Inspiring Artist Studios II

After publishing Inspiring Artist Studios my idea about artist studios expanded after reading ‘Your Brain on Art‘. Let me explain….

‘Your Brain on Art’ connects art and science, and states that art-making is good for your brain and for your well being. In chapter Creating Community, Maria Rosario Jackson focuses on historically marginalized communities. Maria sets up ‘kitchens’ for revitalizing communities and their culture. ‘What we need are places where people can repair and make whole again their cultural roots, as well as create new traditions. A place where they can figure out how they want to show up both individually and collectively, and also have a chance to imagine their future’. (pg. 213, Your Brain on Art, Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, Canongate, ISBN9781§805301202). Of course, ‘kitchen’ here is a metaphor but a good one as a kitchen is a place where people sit down, eat, and talk. It is often the heart of a home. ‘The work here (at the Cultural Kitchens) is about repair, nourishment and evolution, about making the mix. (…) Cultural kitchens can take many forms, but they all ask well, who am I who are we in this evolving context what do I/we bring? What does it mean to be bringing my/our voice or contributions forward?

I can picture these kitchens and value these places. Some time back, we rented a cottage in a small village in Wales. It was interesting to observe how important the community centre was to the village and the farms in its vicinity. If stress out women come together to knit or weave, children to join a theater play, men to repair stuff or play chess, it connects them, it eases loneliness, and adds strength to creative processes and a feeling of belonging to a community.

An artist’s studio is often an individual place whereas cultural kitchens are communal just like that arts & crafts classrooms. Artist studios, whether they are individual or communal, are places where we relax and focus. More significantly, studios (kitchens or art classroom) are places where culture is born or revived.

How many studios did it take to establish (what was later called) the Dutch Golden Age? Twenty or perhaps fourty only? Or take French Impressionists? How many where there? Not that much if you project that number of studio against the hundreds of museum galleries that have Golden Age or Impressionist art on display. Studios are cultural kitchens where art and art-movements are born. These places are almost sacred because of the artworks, books, crafts works they incubate. These are places where artists materialize inspiration, which to some is divinely given. No wonder we like to visit these places (even as replicas). We like to see birth-houses of famous artists; once inside, we are very eager to see their studio, desk, or workplace.

Let us look at two more places where two creative minds are at work, the desk of writer Maricelle Peeters and art studio of Sybille Tezzele Kramer. Both places are so aesthetically pleasing, not only for Maricelle and Sybille, but also for visitors. Looking at their studios alone fills us with a longing to be creative.


Maricelle Peeter’s Writer’s Desk
Maricelle Peeters lives and works in South Africa. In a land that is celebrated for its natural wildlife and its abundance in hues, it is not surprising to find a writer -like Maricelle- carefully paying attention to the colour palette of her desk.

I think what “makes” an artist’s studio is its practicality combined with its aesthetic. A good workplace caters to our creative needs; a balance between stimulating but not distracting, organised for work but not boring. It’s the aesthetic that makes the studio the artist’s own.

It should be a place that reflects the artist’s heart; where we can feel at home and familiar, yet encouraged and challenged to grow, learn, and push beyond our limits. For me, this looks like a combination of space and colour, always prioritizing practicality over pretty. I need enough practical workspace, or I feel cramped, but I must be surrounded by some decorations to make it cozy, or I feel lost and uncomfortable. My space must feel tidy, be handy, and look pleasant.

I have a dedicated space for writing, big enough for a notebook or laptop, which I keep clear. This way I can always write at once in a strike of inspiration. I also have allowance areas for clutter – a necessity that prevents my dedicated workspace from becoming a mess. I always have multiple projects I’m working on, and having a dedicated area to shelf them has been a lifesaver to my sanity. The less clutter, the clearer my mind.

My tools I store on my desk – easily accessible – using a makeshift stationary organiser. Inside I’ve ordered the materials according to purpose and frequency of use. I’d love to have a practical set-up for the collections of loose papers and notes lingering around. I want to put them in folders and line them up a shelf; for now they’re stashed beneath my desk, out of sight but close at hand.

As a visually oriented person, I enjoy having an order of colours, posters, and nick-nacks decorating my space. Not too much, or it feels cluttered and becomes distracting, nor too little or it feels naked. All decorations must serve the aesthetic and purpose. Motivating quotes, reminders of goals and dreams, paintings, mantras, all earned a home on my wall. Some small, random decorations (pebble, candle, tiny vials) fit well in on my desk, too. My colour palette I’ve tuned to a soft but stimulating, calming collection of earth tones: creams, white, some browns, and accents of peachy salmon (the colour’s name is a topic for debate). When I seek a fresh theme I simply replace the accent colours. This way my workplace is always changing – stimulating and challenging – yet familiar enough to keep me motivated for growth!

Maricelle Peeter’s inspiring desk with good light, visual inspiration, and a fish bowl.

Here is Maricelle’s work & Maricelle at Literal. Subscribe to Maricelle’s newsletter & blog here. Maricelle’s Instagram is here.

Maricelle Peeters is one of the two Literary Ladies who published the Gothic Literature Magazine. Literary Magazine on Gothic Literature is available here.


Sybille Tezzele Kramer at work in her art room
Sybille Tezzele Kramer is a bilingual artist living and working in Sud-Tirol. Her room hardly can’t be more inspirational; there is 360 degrees artwork and art in progress. Sybille’s artwork records and celebrates her South Tyrol’s landscape, woodlands, hills, lakes, and typical mountainous houses or farms. No wonder, with so much nature around her, Sybille’s studio feels like a source that oozes a steady flow of colourful, locally inspired art.

In 2013, I retired as a homeschool mum, and it was then that I transformed our ‘class’ room into my design and art studio. Half of my workroom is devoted to designing learning projects for teachers and homeschooling families. Small slips of paper with work orders or planned projects decorate the walls so as not to lose track of things. The other part is for freehand drawing, and a third area is for fabric design and embroidery. I like bird watching and I always rush out onto the balcony not to miss anything when I hear a special song or call, so I have these binoculars at hand.

As you can see in the photos, my room has a high ceiling and a large west-facing window which offers good light conditions. This is very important to me so that I can see the colors as they really are when I am drawing.

My design-art room is the heart of our apartment; it connects all other living areas. As soon as you open the apartment door, you are visiting my working place, and from here you can go to the kitchen and the other rooms. This allows me to perfectly combine everyday life and work: the smell of bread coming out of the oven comes from the kitchen, and I can hear the rumbling of the washing machine in the corridor. However, there are moments when I wish for my own room, more isolated, because the disadvantage of this arrangement is that everyone who comes in sees my work immediately and I don’t like that all the time. That’s why I often clear away my projects when I expect visitors, which is a bit disruptive and stressful. My sketches, notes, recordings and even my work in progress are not for everyone to see and comment on. Of course, this does not apply to my family members!

As you can see, the cupboards are mainly used for work utensils, because I like having everything within reach. There are boxes for pencils and paper, as well as stacks of lapbooks and notebooks for the learning projects. There are also map prints, threads for sewing, embroidering for my fabric prints, as well as other sewing utensils, and cutting or folding devices.

The furniture here is well used or second-hand, which I think is great because I don’t have to be too careful about being neat and it allows decoration. This supports a relaxed way of working. I think this easy-going working atmosphere is also transferred to children or teachers, whom I sometimes welcome here for individual or group workshops. My workplace is important to me because it is full of inspiration! All walls function as inspiration boards. Some of my framed drawings and fabric prints, art cards, and works by artist friends are on display in my room. I collect feathers, stones, shells, etc. From time to time, I change the arrangement of things, because it is good to welcome a bit of modification. The dangling mushrooms are a constant reminder of my almost spiritual connection to the forest.

Sybille Tezzele Kramer’s Dangling Mushrooms that are her spiritual connection with her regional woodlands.


May you have enjoyed this second article on the artist studio. For the first, click here. It has been such joy to write Inspiring Artist’s Studios I and Inspiring Artist’s Studios II. I hope to receive more enthusiastic contributions that enable me to write another article on inspiring artist ateliers.

Feel free to contact me via the contact form.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Drs. M.A.

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Mandarin ducks by Paula Kuitenbrouwer on Etsy.

Elderly People can Make Disastrous Mistakes

Word is out that the Dalai Lama did the most horrific thing a world leader of Buddhism could do; asking a young boy to suck his tongue. President Bush senior butt-touched a female nurse, and my father turned against me. What is this and why does this happen? Why do some geriatric people grow mellow and sweet whilst others become combative, rude, or sexual?

Growing old, becoming ill, and undergoing medical procedures, a pandemic, vaccines, or taking pills are not good for the brain. It fast-tracks ageing and ageing often means becoming childish. Childish not as in behaving like a child but leaning on behavioral patterns and memories learned at the time of childhood and adolescence. In the case of the Dalai Lama this must have been his monastic training and living among young boys, being playful with young boys. Others -for instance- become shamelessly misogynistic or rude.

The deep adolescence-brain, young-adult patterns of behavior emerge ones more in full force around the time an elderly is diagnosed with dementia. Often there is still enough skill and smartness to hide the onset of cognitive decline which causes some to spot the onset of dementia earlier than others. ‘It started in 2019’. ‘No, it didn’t, it started in 2022’.

‘Dementia ripping families apart’ results in 3.740.000 links on Google.

Not many families are unified in dealing with dementia because some see dementia, whilst others see playfulness, naughtiness, character, upbringing, or culture. Despite all these excuses make a bit sense, essentially it is about a gradual loss of control that preludes dementia. Therefore one must listen to those who notice behavioral changes and not let these first ‘observers’ feel like they suffer from Cassandra Syndrome. Because the price for not believing them is high. Not only is a young boy needlessly shocked by the behavior of a world famous and loved religious leader, also the Dalai Lama has done great harm to his life work.

With denial of geriatric character changes or dementia comes terrible conflict and great sadness. How many now purge their bookshelves from books by the Dalai Lama? This could have been prevented by isolating the kind old man from those who think high of him. This should have been done. Like nurses of old people’s homes advising family members of demented elderly: ‘Don’t visit…you might get hurt and they don’t even remember your visit’.

An old woman by Théodore Géricault. Does she look angry? Or only vulnerable? Or neglected? What do you see? How many of you spot craziness? That is unkind to spot, isn’t is? I missed it when I first saw this painting. I thought the old woman was neglected, poor, feeling perhaps ill. Dementia is also difficult to see. The title of this artwork is ‘Crazy old woman’.

Abuse is abuse, no matter whether somebody has used alcohol, drugs, medication, or suffers from dementia. It is a slippery slope to set one kind of abuse apart from another. Also, forgiveness paves the way for establishing a repetitive pattern. Yet, we must make a difference between hurt done by a person suffering from the early stages of dementia and hurt inflicted by a healthy mind. How can we do that?

It is highly recommendable to not deny ageing, nor cerebral and behavioral changes. No matter how brilliant someone has been; no matter how utterly harmless and kind, these geriatric changes cause elderly to make tragic and humongous mistakes. Like the Dalai Lama being the world’s most unstoppable promoter of (Buddhist) kindness. Holy and unholy people age and ageing can lead to making devastating mistakes. Like my father setting up siblings against me (and me against them). As a father you spend 50-60 years as a peace broker, keeping your children together, only to do the absolute reverse at the end. Dementia can lead to abusive behaviour, risking undoing all that is so carefully is achieved over a lifetime. Is that tragic or not?

Spanish artist Belette le Pink drew an old mole, blind, and absentminded. His grandson, the cat, insists on going together to the movies. With this artwork Belette shows the absurdity that comes with ignorance or denial of old age limitations.

Belette le Pink: ‘My friend is starting to lose his mind. It puzzled me because only a few months ago he was a clever and sensitive person. Now he is like a child fantasizing and reacting angrily. I stayed with him in silence but it is really difficult to deal with people when you are not trained to take care of geriatric patients; they consume your patience. I second that old people must be reprimanded when they show bad behavior no matter their age. Old people tend to be forgiven for everything, and it is okay to forgive but you must reprimand even if that is unpleasant. When you take care of your parents out of empathy or love, it’s a real nightmare, especially taking care of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. I have friends who went through that experience and it left them depressed because of feelings of guilt. People with dementia or Alzheimer are out of the world and “out of service” and it is you who is here and you will be here in the future, so it is you first. To keep this in mind might be the best surviving strategy which enables you to help old people’.

Maybe abuse and hurt by old people isn’t 100% preventable but at least it should be limited. Abuse by elderly shouldn’t be brushed away because it won’t go away. Hurt will stay if we continue glorifying and respecting unfit old men and women. It is paramount to let them retire. We should keep a very close eye on their behavior, take lead over them, and not fall for their charisma or charms. In age old people can shine brilliantly, like a star that expands before it implodes. Instead, we should provide elderly people with an insignificant place out of the public eye where they can grow old in a relaxed way and prevent shame that comes with failures. At first they might feel mortified, downsized, angry, irrelevant, and consequently they will lash out but that only confirms the need for them to step down.

Our society keeps old people alive years or decades after they are capable of surviving without the help of medication. Modern medicine ignores what we used to say is ‘God’s calling’. In cases in which this leads to a second chance in life, it is great science. In cases it leads to hurtful geriatric behavior, depression, and dementia, one is justified to ask whether a death-defying intervention is a happy one.

Please, help each other preventing elderly people from hurting next generation(s). Stop them, even if that is a Sisyphean task. Reprimand them. Warn each other; console each other. Form a united front. Believe it when somebody waves a red flag. Just because an elderly becomes abusive is so out of sorts and so unbelievable, you better put your trust in unpleasant observations.

Poetically, becoming an abusive elderly is like guardian angels have left the scene and little devils have taken over.

Biologically, empathy diminishes with age. Being kind without empathy takes a huge effort. Gracefully growing very old doesn’t come naturally to all and everyone of us. For some it turns out to be one of the most difficult things in a human’s life.

Spiritually, growing very old is like risking undoing your whole legacy, which is tragic.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Drs. M.A.

Paula holds an MA degree in Philosophy and she is the owner of Her pen and pencils are always fighting for her attention nevertheless they are best friends; Paula likes her art to be brainy and her essays to be artistic.

P.S. A related post ‘When an Elderly Parent Hurts You’ is here.

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