Monday, November 10, 2008

Studio Tip for November

November is the month for "In with the new, out with the old" and my studio is no exception. I spent several days giving my workspace a makeover, due in part to the photographer who would be coming to photograph the artist in her native environment. When the "native environment" looks more like a pack rat's nest than a working studio, well, some serious work needed to be done.

I generally prefer to work and live in an orderly and esthetically pleasing environment. Chaos leaves me feeling unsettled, but often things get away from me and I am legendary for my "stacking" abilities. Does this happen to you, too? It was a lot of work, but I put in place several ideas to keep me organized and I wanted to share the best ones here.

  • Remove everything that you don't use regularly. For me, this included watercolor and acrylic supplies, books, my hand tools (sander and drill), photo lights, and other odds and ends. Find some other place to store these items: shelves in the garage, donations, etc.
  • I found some decorative boxes which I filled with the small items that always get lost, and stacked them on my shelf unit. I labeled the sides so I could find things easily, but the labels would not detract from the "pretty boxes" which I enjoy.
  • I bought old fashioned, heavy bookends and organized my books on several shelves according to their topics: general information, specific techniques, etc. This keeps each section manageable so that I'm not hunting for an extra 30 minutes for that one specific book.
  • I brought in an pretty patterned area rug and threw it down on top of the "ugly utility rugs" I was using.
  • I rediscovered the wire shoe racks I'd used when I had my larger studio. I'd left them in the garage when I moved everything home. I had been using these wire racks on edge as a drying rack for wet canvas and really missed the convenience. I realized after cleaning out the stacks of stuff beneath my watercolor tables that these racks would fit perfectly.
I store not only wet canvases here, but also the empty panels under the table, and I use another set as a two tiered flat drying rack on top of the table - easy to remove if I need the working space. For the racks set on edge, the wire "ends" keep your wet canvas off the floor (or rug). This is an inexpensive and easy solution to those storage issues in the small home studio.

But the best thing about cleaning my studio was that it gave me a renewed sense of optimism, of starting fresh again and knowing so much more than I did before. It was as if I had swept all the negativity about the economy and the future of the art world out with the old magazines and dried up paints.

If you have tips of your own, please share them in the comments section.


Chris said...

What great suggestions! I begin each painting session clearing my space, dusting the table off to get me in the right frame of mind.

My studio is just for painting. I don't do other work there, so I'm "trained", as it were, to be in a painting mode when I'm there.

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