We live in an era of downsizing and doubling-up. For many, studio space is getting squeezed. My next three blog entries will show you how I’ve dealt with creating an efficient painting studio out of a fraction of the space I used to enjoy.
I am fortunate. I have a whole room (a smallish second bedroom sans bed) for office, sewing, and art. Multi-purposing an art studio provides many distractions from creativity. The trick is to make it efficient enough to move from one activity to another with little hassle.
One side of the room contains a high-boy dresser, a large L-shaped secretary’s desk and the fold-out sewing machine cabinet. You don’t need to see photos of those. It is the studio side you want to see.
Cornerstone of the studio wall is the Maybef Lyre easel, a sturdy beechwood tripod that has a small footprint. I wrote an article in my enewsletter, The Palette Keeper, about the easels in my life—you might enjoy it. The easel is flanked by three microwave stands on wheels, which can easily be reconfigured for framing projects. These “taborets” hold a tremendous amount of painting paraphernalia plus a paper cutter and a box of mini-frames. They roll easiest on hard floors or low-pile carpeting with no padding. The Persian rug is very thick wool and provides cushion while standing at the easel.
Beautiful oak bookcases had to be replaced with something more space efficient. We had two vintage 1970’s olive green steel bookcases in a storage room that fit the bill. You can’t get more compact and sturdy—or ugly. We shortened one of them. Together, they contain my much reduced library, as well as framing materials and a compact HEPA filter.
The ceilings are 9’ high. A tall person could make good use of high wall space with cabinets and shelves, but I am short and have retired from climbing ladders and step-stools.
A four-tube flourescent fixture in the center of the ceiling lights the entire room. No auxiliary lamps are needed, saving lots of surface space.
This is not the perfect art studio. Working in a compact setting requires a certain amount of self-discipline: You must keep art supplies limited to those you actually use. I finally had to admit to a downside: By defining myself exclusively as a painter of small works my brushwork and compositions become continually tighter. I need the expressive space of larger panels, once in a while, to maintain looser brushwork in the small paintings. I'll find a way to accomodate the occassional larger paintings and frames, but it does introduce a complication into my tidy studio plan. In designing your studio space, allow yourself to change and improve it as you discover ways in which it constricts you.
Next week: The coup de grace: A drying, sorting and storage rack for oil paintings!