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 PEETERS’s WRITING 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!
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’s ATELIER
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.
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.
Website at mindfuldrawing.com
Art shop at Etsy & Portfolio at Instagram
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