Having a space set up for creativity helps tremendously with the making process. Whether this is a table in a corner, a fixed up closet, or a room, having a designated work space for creative endeavors is extremely helpful. If this seems daunting or unthinkable, consider your time, when you have only a short amount to create. You do not want precious moments escaping to set up and take down the space each day. This usually results in no creative process occurring because the prospect is too daunting. I have recently moved into a new studio. Initially, it was a shell of a space and all the decisions about layout, lighting and paint color were mine to make. My studio has not always been this large, but in each place I have lived, I have had some form of studio. If you must pick up your creative space daily, check out Moveable Studio for tips on that (coming soon). I have worked in a movable studio environment too and although it is not ideal, creating in it is possible. I will walk you through the 6 questions I asked myself when designing my studio. I will also show you some of my own solutions. Remember your space evolves with you and the more you are in it, the better it becomes. So, "How do you create this space?" you ask. With careful consideration, time, and a large cup of coffee!
1. Consider what you like to do. Are you a painter, a sewer, a printmaker, a sculptor? Do you focus on one subject or combine multiple medias? The more questions you can answer honestly about your space the more likely you are to end up with a space that works for you.
I know I like having lots of options at my fingertips when working. This means I need storage for multiple items. I would rather have them in my studio than a drive away at a store. This also means I need space!
My studio has four main sections. I have my own large table space where I sit and sew, draw, edit and more. Shelves surround this space and have materials I usually use nearby. Storing fabric by colors in the center of the room adds a visual divider. I like the way it looks and it allows me to see my stuff without feeling claustrophobic. I use the space under the table for a variety of things. There are flat files that hold paper for teaching. The garbage bin for material as well as a set of drawers on wheels. My teaching area has a large table that allows 6 people to sit or stand comfortably and create. This area has a closet with art supplies that are for the students. It also has a bookshelf with resource books for students to look through. Students have a free range in this section. The sinks are centrally located between each space so everyone has access. My painting area is where I create while standing and sometimes sitting. I have a large easel which accommodates work in all sizes. My painting supplies are here. I use both oils and acrylics in my work and have a flammable resistant garbage can for rags that have oils on them as well as a safety bin for my old paint thinner. My latex gloves are here too.
2. Will your studio need a sink? How are you planning on using it? Do you need to find a plumber? Are you planning on using the kitchen or bathroom sink in your house? Will you use a temporary solution? What about a sink trap? Check out my post on Sink Solutions (coming soon) and Sink Traps (coming soon) for more information.
I know I need water in my studio. I need it to soak paper for printing and painting on. I need it for rinsing out hand dyed materials. I also need it to wash my brushes and clean up from art lessons. I put two sinks in this studio. One that is a regular two basin kitchen sink, for washing hands and cleaning out rags. It also works as an overflow sink in class so cleanup goes faster. The other is a laundry sink. Very large, durable and deep, this sink does everything! I had a trap attached to it as well so should anything go down the sink that shouldn't, I have a higher chance of not needing a plumber.
My studio also has a bathroom with a shower and a hand washing only sink. If I need to soak large paper, that does not fit in the laundry sink, I can always use the shower.
3. How will you light your space? Do you need more electrical outlets? Will you need a larger circuit? Consider what you need for task lighting as well as overall room lighting!
These are important questions to ponder. Should you be able to use a lighting specialist, do it! You will greatly appreciate having someone walk you through lighting solutions for your space. In my studio, I essentially use four types of lighting: natural, track lighting, task lights, and overhead lighting. I look forward to using a lighting specialist later when my budget allows!
Natural lighting comes through two windows and the large double doors. It pours light into the studio. The studio faces South West so I do not get the coveted northern light that so many artists talk about, but I love it nonetheless! I can affect the amount of natural light the comes into the space through blinds.
Track lighting placed in my painting area allows me to bounce light off the ceiling and the walls. The ceiling lights are LED and as close to daylight as possible. This showers my space with light at night when I want to see details well. Many of the classes I teach are at night and I need good lighting. I can turn them off and only use the track lighting or the task lights for still lives when necessary.
There are many great blogs, books and magazine articles out there with lighting references and resources, check them out. Just remember the CRI (color rendering index) on light bulbs ranges from 1 to 100. 100 being as close to sunlight as possible. You will want your light bulbs 75 CRI or above. Another way to measure light bulbs is through color temperature in Kelvin (K). The higher the number the closer to daylight. For task lighting you want something in the 3500- 5000K range. Natural sunshine is roughly 5000 K.
4. What about storage of your work? Where are these going to go? How will you store them? Are you considering archival quality storage solutions? Is your work large? Can your pets or children damage them?
I work in multiple sizes and on a variety of materials. Most of my work is two-dimensional. I built an art rack that is 3 feet deep and 7 feet wide. It has 12 cubbies that range in size for large and small pieces. Above the rack I can store rolled canvases and work as well. This has been a fantastic solution for me. The art rack is in a dark room in the studio. It is off the ground by 4 inches in case of water damage in the space.
My flat unframed items are in my flat files for storage, again out of natural sunlight.
Remember that light can seriously damage your art work. You can buy archival quality boxes to store all sizes and types of work in if needed. This is a great way to store photographs, prints and more.
If space is seriously limited and you like to work large, consider renting a storage space, preferably in a temperature controlled warehouse. Remember to insure your work.
5. Consider the wall colors of your space. This is where you go for being creative. Do you want the space neutral, wild, or something in between?
I love color. My artwork has lots of color in it. Therefore I wanted my studio walls as plain as possible. I also wanted my studio bright and cheery. I chose white for my space, Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. I love it. It is bright and cheerful. It allows for my mind to empty which lets the ideas walk toward me.
If you tend to work realistic from models, you might prefer a gray or a greenish gray as this will enhance the skin color of the person or people being painted. I can pull curtains in front of my still lives and models to add excitement and pop color off of the items being created when drawing/ painting from life. At the moment I prefer using the fabric to a painted wall. This might change though as time goes on!
6. Budget, budget, budget: think about your budget!
There is no need to break the bank for your studio space. Use what you have. Let people know what you are looking for. Freecycle and Craigslist are great sources for studio needs. I also like the as is section in Ikea. Near me, there is a discount warehouse of Herman Miller goods- I love it! The people there will also help you set up your space if needed. Save the money for the items you really need and want like awesome lights, an amazing easel, or incredible art supplies.
Take time to create your space and remember it is ever evolving. I look forward to hearing about your studio space!