Carl Larsson’s and Karin Bergoo’s studios & Inspiring Artist’s Workplaces

What makes an artist’s studio?

This blog post starts with famous pastel paintings of Carl Larsson’s home studios of him and his wife Karin Bergöö. Such paintings make us long for more, but why? Is it because we want to nail what makes an artist’s studio? We will find out by asking different artists what makes their work place functional and special to them.

Carl Larsson’s Artist Studio ‘One half of my studio’, 1890-1899.

Carl Larssson & Karin Bergöö Studios

Aren’t Carl Larssson and Karin Bergöö’s studios inspiring? For me they are but that is because I can relate to artists’ studios. Whether it is the inevitable messiness or chaos that comes with creating art, or the opposite, the neatness and organization, artist’s studios are fascinating.

Painter, illustrator, and artist Carl Larsson (1853-1919) was a representative of the Arts and Crafts Movement and is best known for his idyllic paintings of family life. He married artist Karin Bergöö (1859-1928) with whom he had eight children. With so many children there was no shortage of models for his family life paintings. Larsson and Bergöö’s creative marriage must have been helpful in setting up their inspiring studios.

Here is the other half with a large canvas. ‘The Studio’, Carl Larsson c.1895; Sweden

Carl Larsson’s studio looks so inviting because of its soft pastel tones that add to a friendly atmosphere. Larsson’s studio juxtaposes Rembrandt’s dark, baroque atelier which makes us want to switch on a light. Larsson’s desk with an ink-pot for sketching, a tool rack for preparing canvases, and a painter’s easel for painting are the eye-catching pieces of his room. On his desk lie various sketches and, in the corner several paintings in process. Larsson might walk in, sit down, and continue with whatever project he has in his mind. There is nice light emanating from the window and the pillows show Swedish folk-art designs, undoubtedly designed by his wife and textile designer Karin Bergöö.

More about Carl Larsson is here.

Here we see Carl and Karin ‘After the Children have gone to bed’ (1901). We see Karin working on her textile art but unluckily we cannot see what she is doing exactly, perhaps embroidery, mending, or upholstery?

There is one painting of Karin inside her textile design room, showing her standing near her loom. Karin, being Carl’s muse and wife, has her work immortalized in many of Carl’s paintings of their home at Sundborn. Their creative and aesthetic partnership was a lucky one and one can tell by how attractive and inviting they proudly show their workplaces.

Let us have a look at some contemporary artists;

Paula Kuitenbrouwer’s Art Room

‘My atelier has a large table in the middle for my workstation, piles of reference books, boxes full coloured pencils, and pots with pencils and brushes. I need to move these things around during the various processes of art-making. There are painter’s easels in my art room for my work-in-progress and for my finished artwork. My art room has large north-east facing windows for overlooking a residential area with trees and some churches. I love my workroom and should I be imprisoned there (we had 3 lock-downs), I would stoically continue with art-making without being too needy for going out.

I allow messiness during the art making process. After I have finished a drawing or painting, I clean and reorganize my room. I pay attention to my room being artistically pleasing. I have never walked into my art room without feeling eagerness to sit down and make art. A place where an artistic mind opens itself to the mysteries of life, like inspiration, fills itself with a special atmosphere. My room nourished my soul even without me drawing or painting’.

Maryse Kluck, aspiring writer

‘My desk must be colourful but not obnoxiously so. It must not be messy but have an absence of an absence; it must have pictures referring to a story that sits in my mind. Pictures of a place, a painting, and books that are like my friends. I need these aesthetics because I need something to produce something. I consider literature as a work of art and art leads to art. Spiritual things are necessary for me too because I regard inspiration coming from God.

An element of ancestral worship is important to me too, but it is not a blood relation that I need. I need pictures and books from the Brontës or Mary Shelley, or William Holman Hunt, because it shows respect to those from whom you draw inspiration from. We aren’t unique, we are part of a tradition, we are always in a way plagiarizing, standing on the shoulders of those before us and therefore we need to venerate and credit them. If Emily Brontë does not inspire anymore, that is the moment that she really is dead. Thus, my work desk is rather busy, yet organized’.

Two articles by Maryse Kluck are here and here. Maryse is one of the two Literary Ladies who published the Gothic Literature Magazine. It is available here.

Ancient Sage Designs at Shazeeda’s Atelier

‘There is no “must look like” in an artist’s studio. An artist’s studio needs to be a place that serves the artist’s creativity. For me, that space must allow me to focus. It needs to be quiet so I can read and write about the ancient art that inspires my embroidery patterns. I need a space where I can be alone. The only time I enjoy someone’s company during my creative process is when I am stitching a new pattern.

I also need adequate light. I live in the northern hemisphere and the room that I use to make my art is in the northwest corner of the building. The room has a west window and a north window, but not enough light comes through these windows. The natural light in the room doesn’t allow me to see the holes in the evenweave fabric that I use to embroider. So, I have adapted to using a task lamp while I stitch. When selecting my colour palette, I don’t choose my thread colours in this room. Instead, I go where there is natural light so I can see the true colours that I am working with.

When I am away from my studio, my favourite places to stitch are wherever I find lots of natural light streaming through a  window or where I can sit outside in the shade. It is my dream to one day have a studio with lots of natural light’.

Shazeeda Linktree is here and her online shop is here.

Inspiration & Concentration

A studio is a place where inspiration and concentration meet, and to achieve that artists create various conditions and aesthetics. A studio can be a boat, a garden shed, a corner in a room. It may contain common objects like a laptop or magnifying lamp but most likely it is instantly recognizable as a studio, as a special place carrying the idiosyncratic signature of an artist. More about inspiring artist’s studios and also about communal cultural kitchens functioning as artist’s studios one finds in Inspiring Artist’s Studios Part II.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Inspiring Artist’s Studios Part II is here.

More reading on Larsson and on the studios of two famous artists, William Morris and Mariano Fortuny:

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Trellis ‘Ode to William Morris’

Finding William Morris in Nature

One day I was admiring our local herbal garden and found myself in William Morris’ Trellis wallpaper design. To celebrate this moment of seeing artwork by the most famous Arts and Crafts Movement artist being alive right in front of me, I set out making a large watercolour painting. I believe the Arts and Crafts Movement and especially William Morris’ designs strengthened the human-nature connection.

Trellis Design

This watercolour makes a lovely wink to past artisan times. Morris designed a simplified trellis with perfect squares, which I stayed true to. But instead of climbing roses and bluebirds, I have chosen passionflowers as host plants to a hummingbird and a butterfly. I have paid much attention to drawing an Arts and Crafts frame, in dark wood with embellishments.

Work in progress with lots of blues and greens and a live model leaf of our own passionflower.

Morris used different ground colours including blue, dark grey, taupe, and the off-white which I will do too. Blue symbolizing heavens, the ethereal part of life and dark, wood brown representing our earthly life.
I have used some gold and iridescent paint so that light offers an enriching effect on this watercolour painting.

Ode to William Morris with bits of gold and iridescent shine.
Watercolour Painting Copyrighted by Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Size is 46 by 61 cm or 18 by 24 inches. Horizontally oriented. I always use Arches High Quality Art Paper, satin because of its soft satin feel and because, to me, it is simply the best. This artwork will need an off-white or softly coloured passe-partout (mount) and a frame. You will cherish this original artwork for years to come!

‘Trellis with lush Acanthus and Passionflowers, a Hummingbird and a Butterfly.’ (Passionflower is the host plant for hummingbirds and fritillary butterflies).

Should you like artwork that matches your William Morris wallpaper, consider commissioning me. I look forward to work with you.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer


Etsy William Morris Inspired Artwork ‘Trellis

Etsy William Morris Inspired Artwork ‘Bouquet of Flowers’

Etsy William Morris

Abundant Acanthus; A Lovely Gift for a William Morris or Plant Loving Person

Abundant Acanthus

‘Abundant Acanthus’ with plant motifs by William Morris and me. Here are the ‘work in progress’ photos and musings.

I have drawn this large graphite drawing with so much pleasure despite that I became dizzy from all these swirling botanical patterns. But isn’t elegance worth a bit of suffering?

Take care and don’t forget to water your plants during the summer heat.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

At Etsy

At Instagram


New Work in the Making

I am working on the successor of ‘Praising Plants‘, ‘Ode to All Oak Trees‘ and ‘Sophisticated Succulents‘ and returning to William Morris for inspiration.

For years, William Morris didn’t appeal that much to me because I was still under the influence of my study of Dutch Baroque floral painters. They, as no one else, could create depth and a feeling as if you were looking at a real bouquet. These Golden Age masters positioned their composition in such way that a large flower vases, with all seasonal flowers, would stand proudly on show and you could -in your mind- walk around it. You would admire not only the flowers but also water-drops and insect that rested on big and small petals. But, of course, you were looking at an illusion. Dutch floral painters studied flowers, one by one, made sketches on them, and then set up a composition as if all flowers were all in bloom at the exact same time, which is never the case in nature. A wonderful illusion; a much admired illusion.

William Morris looked one dimensional compared to these baroque painters, yet, I learned to see that compared to modern flower designs, Morris’s work certainly isn’t one-dimensional. He may not create as much depth as I would like to see, but he weaves flower stems, creating the feeling as if you are in nature and looking at bushes, trees, and flower beds. Some flowers are near, some further away.

My drawing will have another lovely title using again a two word alliteration. You are invited to guess. However, before doing that, one needs some botanical knowledge and isn’t that not exactly what makes us love William Morris? He educates and inspired us with his design, botanical knowledge, and colourful palette.


William Morris mainly scatters and extends broad leaf foliage, flowers, and sometimes animals for the purpose of creating a repetitive, yet not too repetitive, wall paper design. There is a difference in what we expect from wall-paper, a painting, and from a mural. We expect a mural to trick us like Harry Potter on Platform 9 ¾: we like to run into the world that is suggested by a mural. Wall-paper, on the other hand, aims at supporting the design and décor of a room. Wall-paper must suggest less depth than a mural or painting, but more than a brick wall, by weaving the stems of flowers and using the technique of foreshortening, Morris does exactly that however not overly.

I have yet many white spaces to fill up with my own designs; this way of freehand drawing is enjoyable. 

Here you find more on my William Morris Trellis watercolour painting. (Click here)

Paula Kuitenbrouwer   

My shop is at Etsy & and my portfolio at Instagram

Trellis by Paula Kuitenbrouwer