A Fancy Studio Won’t Make You a Better Artist…

10th Avenue as sketched from the picture window on the Highline

10th Avenue as sketched from the picture window on the Highline

and not having a studio should not prevent you from becoming one!

I recently moved, and one of the first things people ask me is “do you have a studio in the new place?” This is prompted by the fact that for the past 6 years I have been painting in a small, unheated, unelectrified shed during the warmer months (no, I did not LIVE in the shed, I just painted there :)) In winter, I would typically paint in my car, unless it was warm enough to do a quick sketch outside, or I would simply use the studios where I teach when they were not occupied with classes.

Although there is an extra bedroom in our new space, I’ve opted to share it with the rest of the family as a media room. Why? Because where I work doesn’t matter to me, I don’t need a dedicated space, fancy lighting, or a state-of-the-art easel to practice drawing–give me a stick of charcoal and a paper bag, and I am all set!

I don’t care much for working from photos, I prefer to work on location whenever possible doing sketches in watercolor or pastel, or paintings on small panels in oil or acrylic, so having a mobile studio is far more useful than having a dedicated space in my home. Occasionally, I will create large pieces from these studies, and if I have to do those I am fortunate that I can usually find a studio that is not being used for an hour or 2 where I teach at the Visual Arts Center of NJ. My students enjoy seeing these pieces evolve and it also puts a bit of distance between me and my work which helps me to stay objective.

Getting out there and painting is what will take your work to the next level. A state-of-the-art studio is nice to have, but it isn’t necessary, even if you are a professional. Develop your skills and talent, and you can work anywhere!

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