I got a Nice New Art Studio!

This summer’s big change: I finally have a new art studio! What I would call my art studio before was a corner of my apartment barely larger than desk that was dedicated to the mess of making art, and this was the best we could do for the longest time. It’s probably the best most artists can do, so I am grateful for the change. I remember when that itself was an upgrade, because prior I just worked at the dining table or stacked boards on my bed or taped art right to my wall.

Setting up the Art Studio

karolina szablewska's new mabef easel
Brand new easel! Well, not new but a few paint splats are nothing to fuss about. Already love it!

Now, I have a reasonable size room with closing doors and enough space to twirl around. I scored an amazing Mabef easel off Kijiji — it really was like the universe was looking out for me because not everyday do you find a thousand dollar easel for a deal, in near perfect condition, and the person is even willing to deliver it just in time to roll it into a perfect birthday present from Mom2. To protect my floor, I bought an oversized, inexpensive rug from Wayfair that will likely one day be speckled with dried oil paint. I have a sitting area for any guests or just to relax myself. I bought metal storage racks from Home Depot and zip-tied them together to form a large storage shelf for artwork so now all my artwork and fresh canvases are properly stored. The art studio has proper lighting with plenty of natural light and ventilation. Finally, I have a utility sink in the back of the unit to clean brushes and store turpentine so I am not breathing it in all day or ruining a bathroom sink. Actually for a final cherry on top, one of my new neighbours was throwing out their DIY woodworking project which ended up being a perfect set of wood canvases.

new painting in new art studio by karolina szablewska
New painting on the new easel on my lucky find of wood canvases.

New Art Studio vs. Old : How I Feel About It

I am incredibly grateful and overwhelmed; this is a huge shift for me. The importance of a proper workspace is understated. I’m sure lots of people learned that this past year with the pandemic work-from-home shift and people realizing you can’t just set up your office on your kitchen table. It is distracting, it is unmotivating, it wastes your time just because of the time spent setting up and settling in, and the separation from home and work is gone. I did not have that separation for over 8 years now, since my entire small business is run from home. I had a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, and then shipping & receiving with cables running all over the floor and boxes of product spilling into every crevice of the apartment.

Every time I wanted to start a new painting, I had to put everything away and wash the entire small space. Every time I wanted to art stream, it took a hour to set up. Already, the immediate benefit is I can rotate between several paintings at once. This is a big deal because sometimes I can only work on a piece for 2-3 hours, then I have to stop so it dries or settles or whatever. This is why I started doing some digital art last year. It is necessary to continually practice art, and as someone who does this for a career, 2-3 hours is not good enough. It greatly limits my ideas as well, because it means I have to carefully pick which idea I dedicate the time and space.

It’s been a couple months and I am having a hard time dealing with this change emotionally. It seems a bit silly since it’s what I longed for. The truth is stagnating in one part of life gives you excuses to be a lesser version of yourself. I feel a tremendous pressure to suddenly perform and mend everything I left sloppy. If I didn’t make art before, it was okay because I could blame my art studio or feeling unmotivated. If I didn’t get much work done, it was okay because there were 10 other errands to do and art looks so insignificant stuffed in the corner. Suddenly, years go by and the ambitious oil paintings I wanted to do have faded from memory and I’m at square one now. The first couple weeks I was in the art studio, I couldn’t deal with it and couldn’t be in this room for too long without the inner critic visiting or feeling really sad.

I really appreciate those of you trying to reassure me that what I do is enough and I am very productive, however I got extremely high standards for myself. I’ll post some new work I already finished in this art studio, my goals, whatever, soon, but for now I’m having a whiskey with my inner critic.

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