Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Studio

I work hard at my job yet wonder what tomorrow will bring. My house is great too but nothing I can count on forever. This all feels rather insecure for my time of life, but no doubt I’m not alone. The thing that feels the most secure is the fact of art in my life, which blows my mind.

Earlier I mentioned an artists-night-out every Monday. Lately we’ve been meeting at the Basement Pub. The subject of The Studio came up as I am rather tentatively looking for one. As you can imagine, it’s not just a room for many of us. It’s not just a place to work. The very words generate all kinds of associations and attachments. Having said this, that’s all it has ever really been for me.

Well, does your studio define you as an artist? I used to get the “Where is your studio?” question all the time in New York. For years I didn’t get just what this meant - and it was of course a test I failed, as I lived and worked in Midtown, a supposed no man’s land for artists. But I made a lot of work in Midtown- admittedly some never shown, but the work I made in that flat is directly related to what I am doing now.

But the where, what and how of The Studio defines many in the art game and it is, as much as anything, a measure of their stature. It tells the world that they are serious, committed. That’s what they think anyway.

Some have said “Eva, you can’t paint in a basement” but newsflash: I’ve been doing it for seven years now. Much of Vive Chrome and all of Take Off and The Richter Scale were made down there. Sorry, but the studio is not the place where I conceive miracles. It’s the place where I execute, where I work. The miracles and Romantic part happen in my head, not in a specific room with a view.


Erika Lee Sears said...


I couldn't agree more with you. I am in the same boat where I converted a room in my home for my studio, and I often think about getting a real studio in a separate space.

A studio is whatever you make it, like a home is whatever you make it. :)


Eclectic Artista said...

great topic, Eva! I have been hung up on having a studio (sort of) but only because I think having a bright, warm, quiet place (not in my house) would help me concentrate. But of course it's mostly in my head....I have painted outdoors, drawn in the car (while someone else was driving!) and many other places..so it's all a state of mind I guess....I still long to transform my garage into my "ideal" studio" ...I know better than wait for that to happen!

Stephilius said...

Yessss, thanks for saying this. I've never had a "studio" that wasn't some room in my apartment or house, sometimes just a corner of a room. I've always felt like that was supposed to be a bad thing; if I was a serious artist, properly committed to making art, I'd go somewhere else to make it. "That's what artists do." There's actually a bit of shame attached to the topic.

But, dammit, I want to go do some artwork in my PJs. I want to go raid the fridge, stuff something in my face, and go back and continue painting. I want all my books around me, all my music; I can't do art without all that. And it's too difficult to find a way to duplicate all that in a separate space. Studio, schmudio!

(All of this said, as my career appears to be taking a healthy forward leap, and I've finally had to buy a serious - big - easel, and now have to find a way to totally rearrange my "studio" to make it all fit - seriously don't know if it'll work....)

Thanks, Eva!

CAP said...

Most collectors and dealers seem to be impressed when you have a studio, that is not part of your home.

My studio spaces have always been spartan, sub-industrial spaces though, which I never really tried to make cosy for visitors, because I was too busy just trying to do the work. Then when I could entice dealers/collectors to visit, friends would always say "Jeez didn't you fix the place up a bit - offer them drinks and stuff?" And I must admit it never even occurred to me. I might replace lights, and clear away debris on the floor, but a studio for me was always just a workshop, not a shop front. I didn't want it to become too cosy. It was a work place.

Now I can't afford one and miss having the remove from home, the sense of dedication and purpose. True, all the bright stuff happens in your head - but alot of the exciting stuff also happens when you're just reacting to what you've just done, or the way things suddenly look in a picture. Having a place where I don't get interrupted for that was a huge advantage.

Eva said...

You're right, CAP, most collectors and dealers want to see the right kind of studio set-up. When I had a separate place, I did invite more dealers and curators for sure. I remember drinking a bottle of wine with one in particular. The whole thing was good. But we most certainly didn't talk about the paintings any more than when I moved to the basement (he's seen my work since).

It's good to have a separate place for oil paint, if that's what you're doing. More and more I have developed an intolerance for the fumes; I dive in, total immersion and then get the hell out.

There was however one negative thing about the separate studio space. Once people knew I was there, they would sometimes try to visit. You know, just stop by. This doesn't happen in my home. And I did not like it. The owner of the building had one in Seattle too. She said the artists in Seattle had their doors open and it was much more communal. But that's the last thing I want.

Eva said...

There's something else I wanted to add. While I like to paint elsewhere, I collage at home and would want it no other way. It's like I need to live with the materials, be able to read them when I want, stumble across things. And I don't think my collage practice would have survived at all if I thought a separate studio was the way to go. All those studio-less years in NY, at least I could cut up paper.

Even the themes I chose, it's a bedroom art. Having said that, I've got a huge bedroom these days.

CAP said...

I should also add I needed a studio because I wanted to paint large and messy (spraying, pouring, gesture, etc - in acrylics). Things you don't want to even try in the spare room at home.

And once at safe remove, it definitely influenced me to be bolder, more ruthless. I was in a bleak place, literally and metaphorically, and I think the work reflected that, although I couldn't see it at the time.

I know what you mean about uninvited visitors - this was always a problem for me at art school as well - people stopping by innocently and even briefly, would throw me off my track for hours...

Let's face it I have the attention span of a hamster on speed and so some seclusion is the only way I can force myself to concentrate.

rachel said...

I love having my studio close.
I have always worked in a basement or garage space and it always feels like an escape as it is where you create. I also love the freedom to work immediately at any hour.

Presenting work to curators and collectors can be a bit tricky as I feel I have to tidy the house and the studio and then there is the muscle car taking up half the garage...

Cojo said...

I used to have a separate studio in a neighbor's basement. It didn't work out very long.

My new place works much better for me, I have a railroad style apartment where the front half is studio / kitchen / bathroom, there is a door that leads out, and another door that leads down a hallway to my living room and bedroom. Close the door and the place is just a studio. Open it for a larger party.