I’ve been meaning to post this for ages, a little guided tour of my home art studio, which I revamped at the start of this year.
In the lead up to last Christmas, our lounge room, which doubles as my art studio, existed in a state of extreme chaos. I’ve always prided myself in keeping my art tools small and simple, working at a modest table and packing up everything as I go. But this became impossible. I had so many orders that I would spend my days working on several pieces simultaneously. While one thing dried, I’d put a layer of paint on another. Each item had to be spread out somewhere to dry, usually the floor. Which has been fine in the past.
But enter Paula, my partner, cutting up huge cardboard boxes for shipping, cutting and sanding pieces of wood for me to paint/plaster onto, wrapping books and zines and paintings to send out into the world, and suddenly my in-progress works weren’t safe on the floor any more. We brought in a trestle table, but even that wasn’t enough. Between the two of us, we could hardly find anything, much less keep my paintings safe!
Time for a new system. I’ve accepted that small is wonderful, but that if I want this to work as a real business, I have to expand a bit. I’ve got a new art bench, complete with shelves underneath it on which to lay out works-in-progress while they are wet. The bench is high, a standing bench, so that I can write and paint without sitting or slouching – so much better for my back. Did you know that sitting is the new smoking? Apparently if we sit less, we live longer.
Because it’s our lounge room, I wanted it to look gorgeous. Inspired by Julie Arkell, Paula and I have made heaps of papier mache boxes covered with old book text to use as shelves and in which to house my supplies. I used my best handwriting to label them.
The top-most box is my favourite, because it has a door on it, onto which I’ve painted a blackboard for myself. I’ve painted a lot of these custom blackboards, with sweet girls that look like their recipient. I was going to paint just any random, far more attractive girl for my own blackboard, but Paula convinced me to do a self-portrait. I’ve got blue hair thanks to magnificent and wonderful experiments by my dear Bethany, I’m wearing a jumper knitted for me by a beloved friend Torhild, I drew on a tutu skirt which I was in the photo Torhild sent me when she’d finished knitting, and I’m wearing Doc Martens which I had as a teenager and still love. It’s nice to reinvent all the best parts of myself, including a few fantasy bits. Anyway, the useful thing about this is it’s a blackboard on which I can write out my daily art tasks.
My most recent journals are all right within reach – because I do reach for them all the time. In my old incarnation of my studio, they were buried at the back of a cupboard and I had to dig out a whole lot of things before fumbling in the dark for them. This is a revolution!
On my workbench I’ve got my most used tools organised in boxes. This means I can reach blindly for everything I need, and it’s a cinch to pack up at the end of the day. I’ve also got some nails on the wall to hang artworks that are waiting to go to their new homes. It’s an ever-changing cast on that wall and I enjoy the variety.
Tucked in by the window I’ve got a box of seedlings that will be our summer vegies, keeping warm inside double glazing. And there’s a hook for me to hang my apron on.
This is a workspace that draws me in and makes me want to create. It’s been a big job to create it all and it took much of my summer, but now it’s done and I’m thrilled with the result.
Where do you work? What storage systems work for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.