A few years ago we moved so I could have a studio.
Technically, in our old house I had four. Painting was done in the garage (studio) with no heat in the winter, no central air in the summer, no running water, no bathroom, and the portable CD player I plugged in sounded like crap because the sound coming from the small little speakers just bounced off the unadorned walls, the concrete floor, and objects like the lawn mower. Oh, and if it rained or snowed (or if hail started pinging our domicile) I had to move my easels to one side of the garage so we could park the truck between the lawn tools and my artistic creations. Cutting, of paper or stencils or mats, was done on the Formica-topped kitchen table (studio 2) with tools drug from wherever I had found to store them. My drawing desk, and it’s myriad of accessories, was in the living room next to a small drawer system with wheels that served as a taboret although the carpet prevented any true mobility. The music in the living and kitchen areas sounded better than the music in the garage as it came from the TV speaker but I had fewer choices because I could only pick genres that were beamed to me by my cable provider. The temperature control factor made the living room seem like Shangri La for approximately 9 months out of the year when compared to either Siberia (the garage in winter) or the magma chamber of Kilauea (the garage in summer.) My fourth studio was in an extra bedroom at the back of the house where my computer with different art software programs and USB hubs for the camera and my Wacom tablet lived. Conveniently, it was also where my CD collection lived so the music was exactly how I wanted it. Inconveniently, it was as far from the garage as it could be.
As I said we moved to accommodate my burning desire to not risk heatstroke or hypothermia in order to paint. I wanted all of my art supplies to live together in peace and cluttered harmony. I also wanted to see my wife in the evenings – not just be in the same building. Our present house has a 300 sq. foot room that, once upon some other homeowners’ time, was a small living room, a long hallway, and a tiny bedroom. My wife, who is a bit of a computer game addict, sits and plays computer games while I paint or draw or loaf around or write blog posts. And while the amount of stuff in that room that is hers could be strapped to her back with some power cords she calls it our living room because it is the room we live in. But it is my one and only studio. It has two large eastern facing windows that look out over a delightful covered back patio and a pool. My artist’s mannequin and model hand sit on one windowsill with some plants. The room is large enough to contain: a huge 6’ long desk (which holds 2 monitors, 2 computers, a telephone, and necessary networking gear), two small computer stands for a printer and a scanner, the drawing desk, the taboret (which now rolls), 2 sets of shelves to hold paint and other supplies, 2 standard easels, 1 portable easel, 2 wall mounted easels, a small folding table, 2 rolling desk chairs, 1 tractor rolling chair, and various assorted other items. I can also set up a 5 x 3 ft piece of wood on a pair of sawhorses in the middle of all this other stuff if I so choose. Plus I get central air, easy access to running water, awesome music, and lighting that doesn’t involve extension cords. The only artwork on the walls that isn’t mine is a large framed print of an oil painting created by Salvador Dali in 1948 called The Elephants that hangs over the computer desk.
If I want to spray paint I have to go behind the shed, the spare bedroom is for all intents and purposes a gallery, and my wife prefers I not use the compound miter saw in the house but otherwise everything is in one room and I couldn’t be happier. I think it’s a good room although I also think without my wife using the room as well it could become overwhelming. According to eyewitness accounts Man Ray’s studio contained little bits of everything and a visitor could get lost sorting through objects and old work. Photographs of Piet Mondrian’s studio seem to show a precise environment – very geometric in layout – to the point that even the sketches on the walls seem lined up. Cezanne’s studio looks fairly orderly although he did have odd objects here and there, and Chagall’s looks like it doubled as a library. I think mine is most like Chagall’s actually. A bit messy but organized in a way I understand. Artist studios might be an amusing thing to catalog. For fun Google ‘artist’s studios’ – they are as varied and unique as the artists they house.