An artist’s studio is fascinating. It shows the inner workings of an artist and expresses something about their personality to the viewer. Some artists may have each tool or brush in order and an organized space with a place for everything; while other artists may choose a freestyle space where nothing has a particular place but all lands happily on the studio table and will eventually find its way to become a new work of art.
The other day a friend posted a photo of her studio and I found it so intriguing. Tools were lined up perfectly and with meaning and a single ceramic turtle posed naturally at the edge of the table as if it was always meant to be there. A day after I saw that photo another friend posted a new group on her web site about artist’s studios and asked all group members to take pictures of their work space and to share with other members. What will these studios look like? What so they say about each person? Is the person with a neat studio more of an artist or is it neat because their creations demand a sense of organization. Is the person with the freestyle studio more eclectic or strong willed or simply less organized? Does their studio reflect their individual art style? This week, take a photo of your studio and share it with others then ask the viewer what they thought the studio represented. Don’t tell them it is your studio – just allow the viewer to make a perception without biases.
I browsed through images on Flickr and discovered an array of photographs that depict artists’ studios. This one by Bea767 shows a studio well lit by filtered sunlight and bins with organized jars of paints and brushes. A table sits somewhat out of context beneath a window and instead of having artist’s supplies; this table is covered only with a vase and a candle. This studio feels professional, timeless and powerfully intimate.
Photographer Chris Schmidt captures the studio of Dalhart Windberg in this piece that brings the viewer into a powerhouse of organization with an abundance of supplies all placed just so. Jars of brushes stand at attention on a stack of file drawers and plastic bins are placed in perfect order on a set of shelves. The overall shot has a brown tone giving off an antique impression.
Abby Lanes took this black and white photo of an artist’s studio while on a tour in Santa Monica. This shot is taken up close with the focus on the table that features a set of brushes in a ceramic jar, a pile of paints in a basket and jars of supplies placed haphazardly on the table. This photo casts a different mood from the other two and is more of a still life than anything. This impression is more about the placement and the photograph. Think about a shot you would take–would it be up close with a focus on a particular item or pulled back to capture the whole space?
If you are less interested in your studio and more in others, consider some literary inspiration from other artists in books that are available on Amazon. Take a look at Artists at Work: Inside the Studios of Today’s Celebrated Artists by David Seidner and Diana Edkins. This book takes readers through a rare glimpse into the working studios of twenty of today’s most important artists. Read about their work spaces, see works in progress and enjoy the abundance of color photographs.
For a truly personal artist’s studio experience simply visit one. We live in a culturally vital community with easy access to the arts. Benicia hosts Artists Open Studios twice a year and Pro Arts of Oakland plays a huge role in open studio programs throughout Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. When you visit, bring your camera and ask the artist if you can photograph their studio, or take a shot of the outside of the studios. At the Benicia Armory many artists decorate the doors and build assemblages in front of their work space. They are very open to these vignettes being photographed and simply appreciate being noticed as these are subtle expressions in an unexpected place.
Artist’s studios have been around for centuries and in a larger sense little has changed. The studio continues to give us a glimpse into the mind of an artist whether they are Da Vinci, Picasso or a contemporary urban artist. So again I ask: what does your studio say about you?