I like to think of my studio as my external brain.
A brain that exists in a physical, tangible place outside of my body. I like to fill it up with lots of items that inspire me, or make me feel happy or nostalgic. I have a shelf full of art books that I can flip through, and a comfy couch that I can take breaks on, or that my friends can hang out on if they come over to co-work. One of my walls is filled with art prints that I like, many of which were made by friends of mine. If ever I am out and about and find some thing that I can’t not buy, even though it’s totally impractical, it goes into my studio (within reason). There’s an old typewriter, a mirror that I found at a thrift store that has a beautifully embroidered frame, hanging plants and strings of tiny lights. There are multiple vintage suitcases.
After graduating from university, it took some time to become adapted to working from home, by myself. It took me a full year to find the home studio layout that works for me. My partner Kevin built me this enormous work table out of unfinished wood that is definitely the most essential element. It was made to be the perfect height, so I can either stand or sit on a tall stool while working. I was gifted a beautiful H-frame easel by one of my neighbours so I have that set up near the middle of the room, with my giant table against the wall to the right of it. I have a big piece of tempered glass that I repurposed from one of Kevin’s old computer desks to use as a paint palette. It takes up about a third of the table.
As you can probably tell, my studio has the tendency to become quite cluttered at times but I like to keep it as clean and organized as possible. When I'm feeling stressed, it gives me solace just to know that it exists, and that it's waiting for me to walk in and make something. When it's cluttered with nonessentials, that reflects on my psyche too. The mess takes up a space in my mind.
When working on a project, which can last from a couple of weeks to several months, I will often leave all of the required tools out on my table so that they are quick and easy to access. At the end of a project, I put every thing back in its place so that I can start anew with a fresh workspace. It’s all part of my painting ritual, to sift through my tubes of paint and line up the ones that I think I’ll need when starting a new project. To mix up new medium, to reorganize my brushes.
I feel very lucky to be able to have a whole room to myself, devoted to my interests and my work, in my home. I know a lot of people are contained within a little corner of the family living room. I deeply respect people who find a way to be creative, no matter their resources or lack thereof. I believe that creativity is mental energy that needs to be expressed, and when it becomes pent-up it can lead to the mind turning on itself. For me, it seems that my mind always needs to be coming up with new ideas, or making connections - if I’m not actively doing that in a constructive way, my mind continues to create scenarios, but they tend to be more along the lines of anxiety-producing what-if situations. It’s the same creative mental energy, but when it isn’t focused, it runs rampant.
So thank you to all the artists and makers out there for expressing your energy in constructive ways - I am deeply grateful that you exist.