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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Forest Scene: Mandarin Ducks Resting on a River Bank

The mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata) have carefully chosen a place to rest. They seems to blend in with the dark background, thus if necessary, they will respond quickly by taking to the waters and thus escape predators. The river is calm, the forest is rich in sounds and smells, and all is well. The reflection of the lovely couple is visible in the calm water. Birds are flying over. 

The duck and drake have just decided to take a rest and have already positioned themselves on the bank. The duck is checking the left, the drake checks the right, if all feels safe they will soon tuck their bills into their wings and take a nap. After that they will look for food again, synchronized as they are. They are life long partners, like swans. In Asia mandarin ducks represent love and loyalty. On the photos of this drawing, you will notice a few wooden ducks. They are used, in Asia, like drawings, prints and paintings, to enhance feelings of love and loyalty in homes and rooms between couples. Seeing bonding ducks, seeing how synchronised they are, makes people long for a deep belonging, a deep bond between lovers.

This is a softly rendered graphite drawing. On my Etsy home page and Instagram you can watch a video of the making of this drawing. I have done many Mandarin duck commissions for homes, weddings, engagements, stationary, or meditation/sleeping rooms. Contact me should you have specific wishes regarding a mandarin duck drawing. Also, have a look at my shop where you will find mandarin duck mini-prints, cards, and full colour drawings. May I advise to have a full colour drawing of mandarin ducks in a monochromatic coloured room and a softly rendered graphite drawing in a colourful room?

Artist information: Derwent graphite H-series pencils on Arches hot press paper 31-41 cm. Winsor & Newton Varnish Spray.

Ornithological information: Although Mandarin ducks are Asian ducks, Dutch park and estate owners buy these ducks to add some bright colours to their duck ponds or castle moats. Mandarin ducks then need nesting facilities because in nature they breed inside tree cavities. They seem to do well in Dutch weather. I am very lucky to have spotted them nearby my home town. One thinks that they stand out splendidly, but I can assure you that even the very colourful drake often seems to blend in its surroundings perfectly.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

@mindfulfdrawing on Instagram (video  link)

Etsy (for video watching scroll down till ‘About Paula Kuitenbrouwer’

Koi Carp, Koikarppi, Cyprinus carpio, Koi fiŝo, Niŝikigoi, 비단잉어, Carpa koi

Koi met Vis Vaas


Koi carp, or more specifically nishikigoi are a group of fish that are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens. Koi carps are mesmerizing. People are willing to pay big money for a pretty carp fish. An ‘Agasi’, the blue koi,  is particularly pretty. I think I know why.

Some time ago I sat next to a large pond that was filled with koi with beautiful colours and patterns. I looked at them and looked at them. I sat and sat and got mesmerized. I asked myself why I was so intensely enjoying sitting next to this pond and looking at the slow and gently moving  fish? I just didn’t want to go home, I couldn’t get enough of it. Suddenly I understood. The pond with koi had become my thinking. Each koi represented one thought, a thought that lighted up against the dark, deep pond. Thought swam in and out of my mind and koi carp swam in and out of my vision. The more the fish got used to me and I to them, the slower they appeared and disappeared. Simultaneously, my thinking process became a flow; it slowed down and became less demanding. I became aware of my thoughts coming and going, like the koi.

Sitting by the pond and looking at the colourful, smooth swimming fish became a spontaneous meditation. Has this meditation helped me to understand the obsession with koi and the willingness to spend a monthly salary on a beautiful Agasi? Yes, I do understand now, but that doesn’t mean I became obsessed because that is a choice. However, I decided to draw a koi-series to capture the meditation experience in coloured pencil drawings. Every time I look at my drawing I want to feel that meditation again. And I hope others feel it too while looking at my drawing. This happened years ago and I’m still drawing ponds with koi. I still must be mesmerized.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer


Koi Carp Notecards are at Paula’s Etsy

Paula at Instagram