Category Archives: The Business of Being an Artist

The Color of Real-World Studios

Have you ever gazed at images of perfect studios? You know the ones in magazines that are impossibly beautiful and organized? I often wonder about the palette (wall colors, not painter’s tool…) chosen and whether it fosters creativity or is distracting. Does it compete with the art making and finished art or highlight it?

One of the most viewed blog posts I’ve ever written was on the color of one’s studio and which colors facilitate creativity. I was building my own studio at the time and doing research. In the end, I went with white walls and a neutral floor color. Everything in my studio is white or natural wood, even the curtains are a natural and restful blue. Except that it isn’t. My studio is a cornucopia of texture, color and projects (or a rampant mess, depending on my mood…)  I’ve got photos, artwork, inspiration, supplies, books, stacks, etc. adding color everywhere. I suppose you could say that my studio is actually every colored.

As an extension of the original post, which you’ll find here: While We’re Talking Paint Colors, I asked artists that I know through the Bay Area Book Artists about their studios and colors they’ve chosen, or not, and why. Here, in no particular order, are their replies.

Lilac

My studio is blue based purple tinted out to a lilac color for walls and trim.  Grey based white ceiling to reflect light back down into space, and flooring a light green.  There are accent colors in all of the colors of the spectrum introduced in art work and assemblage pickings.  Surrounding rooms are a saturated grey because it is wonderful to display artwork on.  – Rhonda L.

white walls

1. My studio, as well as my entire living space, has white walls. I respond to emptiness, which white represents for me. The invitation of emptiness allows me to put up drawings, paintings, pieces of ephemera, words, and photographs that provide stimulation for creativity. 2. I feel that my creativity stems from a quiet center, and in order to have that quiet center, I need an interesting visual space. It’s almost as if the first creative act is to take the white walls, and begin a “room collage” of imagery that appeals to me, and once I’m ensconced in the arms of the imagery, my deepest creative place gets activated. This may look like clutter to others, but there is purpose, movement, order and balance to my eyes, and this is how I journey back to my center.  – Karen K.

green

My studio walls are the color of leaves with a cream ceiling. My studio has windows on two walls and looks out on to the garden.  I like the sense of working in the great outdoors, it makes me happy.  That being said, the walls have lots of art, books and stuff on them, so the true sense is a garden that’s gotten outta control.  It keeps me stimulated. (Raesofsun.com) – Rae T.

black and white

My studio currently has white walls and ceilings, with neutral to black surfaces and furnishings. It’s calming and visually quiet environment so that I can both work and play here. It’s not stark, as there are areas of creative clutter, but the overall space is peaceful and inviting for making art. The best moments are when I turn on some music and put my phone on silent. – Karen C.

tiffany

My studio is Tiffany blue with white trim. I work full-time at a hospital, and this color helps me forget my day. I can think better at my studio. When I sit down to create, it usually never takes longer than 10 mins before ideas start to flow. – Linh D.

multicolor

I don’t really have any colors. Behind me is floor to ceiling shelving with supplies. To my left is a huge cabinet with wood doors, though often they are open showing more supplies. Next to that we have the television sitting in a brick fireplace. In front of  me, is mostly my huge iMac honestly can’t see much beyond it. (It’s new. 🙂 yay) and off to the right is an open area that turns into the kitchen area, again mostly wood cabinets  there’s very little wall in the whole room, what we have is the same white as when we moved in. So I’d have to say my studio is “art supply” colored, mostly vintage paper and books. And the matte aluminum of my epson r2400 and  iMac. I wish it were prettier like those spreads you see of people’s studio. I had Kit come help me organize it, but frankly, I work chaotically, and don’t have lots of energy to tidy up after, so everything is a massive pile of paper I’m working with, loosely held in clear plastic tubs. (Kit pointed out that I like to see what I have or I forget I have it, so clear tubs work great).  I was raised by my Gran who liked need and tidy, so I always feel a bit of shame in regards to my work space. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/violentbloom/10355425414/) – Raven E.

tomato red

My interior studio walls are warm white and with tomato red /orange accent walls and maple shelving with views of trees out my windows. My studio is a relaxing environment which sparks my creative energy. – Bernadette C.

ivory

I painted mine an ivory-white. Warm tone supports good vibes. Also good lighting helps. I have sky lighting plus warm light bulbs for night work. Has been great since 1984! ~ Jone M.

gray

How color affects one’s creativity is a good question. I prefer white walls in a studio. I like to use colors and a placing a painting/print etc, against a white surface gives me the best idea of the true color, i.e. there is minimal color interference. I even prefer a white palette and ink rolling surface for that reason. Also white walls reflect light best. If I had my choice I would have one wall be a pale ‘photo’ grey, neither warm, nor cool, again for minimal interference with true color in a painting, print etc. BUT the best psychological stimulus to my creativity is having plenty of Northern light. Artificial light is a downer for me. – Conni R.

warm white

My last studio had knotty pine walls, very warm but too dark. I couldn’t bring myself to paint them because they were beautiful wood. I like a lot of light, from windows if possible, with no shadows under my hands. My new studio has slightly warm, white walls, our landlord’s choice. But it’s working well. I like the brightness. I feel most colors on the wall would bounce onto whatever I’m working on and have an effect. Later in a different setting my finished art would not be the color I want. My table tops are a light grey, I prefer my grey cutting mat over the dark green one most of the time, too. I think these simple colors create an environment that makes me feel like it’s a good place to be making things. ( judithhoffman.net) – Judy H.

multi 2

My studio walls are white but you can barely see them. The walls are covered with every color possible of artwork and art supplies. This colorful atmosphere is what charges and inspires me. For me “more is more” in every sense of creativity. (http://lifeasafiveringcircus.blogspot.com/http://www.doritelisha.com) – Dorit E.

navajo white

In my studio I keep pretty neutral with color and have a Navajo white which has some warmth to it and grey. It makes a great backdrop for all colors and does not intrude.  It keeps the space clean without being sterile and helps keep the light level up. The color is in all the inspiration pieces I have around. My artwork, objects that inspire, plants, and fabrics hanging on the walls or on shelves. There are a lot of natural items…rocks, wood, dried leaves and pods that warm up the space without effecting other colors. – Karen R.

What color is your studio? Or what color is your dream studio? Have you changed your studio color over time? If so, why? Please share in the comments!

Thank you again to the artists in Bay Area Book Artists. They are a tremendously generous group and always willing to share their thoughts and ideas.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Community Matters at San Jose City Hall, Reception Friday June 6

CommunityMatters_Announcement

 

I was honored to be invited to participate in the Community Matters show at San Jose City hall. This show features SJSU art department alumni and will be open until October 1., 2014. I know several of the participants and am flattered to be included in such a talented group. These are the art students I would come home and tell Greg about. “They’re going to do something big,” I’d tell him and you’ll see by their work exactly what I meant.

Each of us has our own display area an, in addition to several of my better known artist’s books,  you’ll be able to see a work that isn’t even on my website yet. Tentatively titled Elephants, it is a collection of artist’s books about family secrets. When the curator, Robin Treen, visited my studio she was excited about this piece and asked if I could have it finished in time for the show. “Sure!” I told her. And it was done at 2 a.m. the day of the install.

I hope you can join me on Friday, June 6th, between 4:30-6 p.m. for the reception.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Finding Time for Your Art

Ginger Burrell - Time Machine Color

If only there was a machine that could make more time! Many of us find it a challenge to find time to sleep, let alone find time to make art. Do you have strategies to make time for your art?

This has been an ongoing struggle for me. I am sidetracked frequently not only by the many other responsibilities I have, but also by my own tendency to undermine my own creative work. If it isn’t a household responsibility, a kid that needs transported somewhere, or an appointment that needs kept, it is me dragging my feet because I’m not sure I can make my art fit my vision, or I’ve gotten so far in a project that I’m afraid that I’ll screw it up and have to start over, or I’ll be afraid that my audience won’t love it the way I do (even though I tell myself it doesn’t matter…)

Last year I did a year-long project titled “Picturing Dialogue.” Because I had deadlines and a lot of other artists to answer to, it kept me on task and focused all year. So for me, deadlines and people to answer to are a good start. But here I am on January 13th and I’m finding myself in my old patterns.

In an attempt to create better working habits this year (and eating habits, and exercise habits, and… oh wait, here I am getting sidetracked again…) I did some wandering around the web looking for techniques to set aside time for what is most important – Art. (And besides, I got to wander the web and not feel guilty about it!)

In a blog entry by Bet Borgeson, I found the idea of a TIMECARD – “This may seem a quaint thing, but it works, and it has helped others. Why does it work?  Because it is a big part of the structure that surrounds an art life.  Noting the timebegins to work on you mentally. You are noticing your time.  You might find yourself guessing how much you’ll get done.  You’ll have conversations with yourself about your art time.  As time goes on and you are faithful about keeping a record, you’ll likely begin to compete with prior weeks and months–even years.”

On Empty Easel, in an interview with Rice Freeman-Zachery, I found the idea to QUIT WATCHING TV – Now I know an artist who has pretty much done this and her art output, on top of a full-time “regular” job, is amazing. In quality as well as quantity. In fact, Rae  is an inspiration to everyone who knows her. But I like TV and at the end of a long day it’s often the only thing I have the energy for. Although I’m still cross at the story-line for last night’s Downton Abbey.

Mary Baker’s Art Blog may well hit the nail on the head for me – and for many of us… “LEARN TO SAY NO.” My favorite sentence – “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

In Cathy Johnson’s Tip #33, Making Time for Art, she suggests MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF and keep it, just like any other appointment.

Balzer Design’s 5 Ways to Make Time for Art, has two tips that struck a chord for me:  LET THE CROCKPOT DO THE COOKING and Set Limits for Computer Time. Perhaps I can improve my art making habits and my eating habits with one tip! And I love the computer… I love reading the news, looking for recipes, reading email, blogs, Facebook, watching Henri videos… uh oh, and that’s just a small part of the list. I’m beginning to see a problem here.

Do you have strategies to “make time” for your art? Please share in the comments! I’ll try these out and let you know how they work for me.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com