Back in the days of being a kid, I used to paint more spontaneously. I had a clearer connection to something subconscious that filled the brain with images, vivid and ready to paint. As an adult, not so much and I look for ways to reconnect with this organic process. I’m reading a fun book and I would actually like to recommend it. It’s about writing, however I think it really applies to any creative profession because the creative process generally follows a similar mental path, similar downfalls and similar anxieties. The pleasant writing feels like I am listening to the author reminisce while sitting in a sunny room on a lounge chair with tea. She has a wonderful, eloquent way of making points through prose. Her perspective is highly empathetic to the hurdles of creating meanwhile being an average person stumbling through life. The book is Still Writing by Dani Shapiro.
I could pull so many points from her book I think are brilliant. One of the things talked about by the author is how the biggest obstacle of art is life itself. Now, that sounds pretentious, yet it really is true. If you are struggling with maintaining a practice of routinely creating art, it’s just like going to the gym, or quitting smoking, or learning a new language…you have to fit it into your life, you have to create the time for it. Otherwise, what happens is you suddenly have errands to run at the store, clean the bathroom, do laundry, pick up Timmy from his soccer game, or Sharlene wants you to go to her potluck and you got to make a side, or you’re doing a favour for George when it really has no benefit to you in the end and George is kind of a dick that never does anything in return. (Don’t worry, George is fictional and I’m okay.) What it comes down to for me as someone who has made that space in time is also making the space in my head because all the noise that life creates also takes up mental space and crowds out that intuitive energy and pictorial stream of consciousness I am trying to reconnect with.
This is probably why artist’s homes are so weird. Okay, I admit it! To be in that kind of creative, intuitive, voodoo dark energy that an artist has to connect with, you need a certain feng-shui and creamy beige walls, tans, and Live, Love, Laugh deco on the wall doesn’t cut it. Well okay, if that kind of stuff matches your artistic energy, then it makes sense for you to have it up…however, in most cases I find artist’s belongings to be typically eccentric in a way that seems to fit with what they make.
My partner and I have been fantasizing about this a lot: a great creative atmosphere for us seems to involve coloured lights (mainly red), small lights sprinkled throughout (lanterns, string lights), Persian rugs, strong colours for walls, and lots of furniture that is either wood or metal. I’m absolutely in-love with the current trend of live-edge wood tables, and I know a very sunny room is pretty important to my well-being. Here’s kind of a mood board below via various Google images:
[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon CoolPix885 0000/00/00 00:00:00 JPEG (8-bit) Normal Image Size: 2048 x 1536 Color ConverterLens: None Focal Length: 43.2mm Exposure Mode: Programmed Auto Metering Mode: Center-Weighted 1/60.1 sec - f/4.9 Exposure Comp.: 0 EV Sensitivity: Auto White Balance: Auto AF Mode: AF-C Tone Comp: Auto Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain Electric Zoom Ratio: 1.80 Saturation comp: 0 Sharpening: Auto Noise Reduction: OFF [#End of Shooting Data Section]
It becomes very evident in these images what I find comfortable and inspiring is somewhat of a sunny grotto. (Fortunately because I don’t care about trends, I already live kind of in a space like this.) This is partly why I have an extremely hard time creating in a rented artist studio, which is usually clinical with white, slightly grungy walls, dull overhead lighting, old linoleum tile, and absolutely zero character outside of the fact it’s old and gross and probably in a warehouse. Some artists have told me they find this inspiring because the space itself doesn’t suggest anything in itself…however, I disagree since their work kind of looks equally clinical, empty, and with lighting too similar to their space. When I had a studio like this in university, I would go to great effort to mentally block out this environment or waste hours trying to motivate myself, as the reality was I really didn’t like being there. It really applies to everything, doesn’t it? Even in a conventional office, I think employees would do better work if they were allowed to personalize their space, make it a place they want to be.
Recently, I stumbled upon this concept. People who are really into this claim it to be a way of being, a mental state, not just an interior decorating style:
It really depends what sort of atmosphere you enjoy and it’s true I enjoy coziness the most.
I talked to a few other artists about their homes. Dawn Booth Wilson lives in an old farmhouse she is renovated, and took the opportunity to add some of her artistic flair. Her bedroom has matching sheets. I think it works really well; have a look at her work on her site.
Here is another artist who had the opportunity to make her art studio a piece of her home. In her own words, Ryn Hipp says this about converting her attic into her art space:
I chose to paint the room in such a way, as I really love aquariums and marine life. I have a nice window, some plants, and a scent diffuser, which makes for a pleasant situation. I find the environment very relaxing and I love spending time in this space.
So, what do you think? How does your space influence your ability to create?
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