Friday, August 26, 2011

A Work in Progress: Planning the Perfect Studio

Well, that title is probably a little grandiose, as a plan is never perfect nor is a studio. These things are always "works in progress!" 

I am settling into my new studio home, bit by bit. Boxes abound still, and the packing peanuts are, I do believe, actually breeding! But we have a plan, and we are putting it into effect.

Here's the idea: as in my other house, the largest room in the house is the studio. This is generally a room which builders like to call the living room. I like using the living room as a studio, not just because it's big but because it represents one of my personal gripes: builders designing houses that don't work. As in, every house has a living room, but does anyone do anything with said room but put their best furniture in it, vacuum it once in a while, and entertain ... or LIVE ... somewhere else? 

As a studio, this wonderful cathedral-ceiling room will get some real -- daily! -- use. And my easels will not be forgotten in a corner somewhere in a back bedroom, basement... or worse, closet or hall. I've seen artists try to force their creativity into tiny cramped spaces which just make me sad. 

The second largest room is the office. In this case, it's the room the builder called the master bedroom. (Do you see a pattern here?) Believe it or not, my husband actually suggested we use these two rooms for these purposes. I love this guy! How could I be so lucky? 

The office has our two computers, two computer chairs, file space, shelves, an easy chair, a couch and a treadmill. Here is where we watch movies, exercise, veg AND do administrative work. Some modern builders are actually incorporating such a room into their designs, and calling it a Media Room. 

Where, you ask, do we sleep? In the other bedrooms, of course!

The third essential room for a studio is a workroom with a dedicated work table for stretching canvasses and framing art. In this case we are using the garage, which my ever-awesome husband stayed up all night to transform into the most wonderful combination garage/workroom imaginable. 

He's asleep now. In the other bedroom. 

All kidding aside, here are the essentials for these three spaces:

The painting studio has a large wall for the nine-foot long landscape easel. The room has a 5x6-foot window with adjustable blinds, and a chest for still life arrangements diagonal to the window. The free-standing easel is positioned in front of it. There are two tabourets on wheels, an oriental carpet and a Gel-Pro chef's mat on a hardwood floor. On order is a set of stereo cabinets, again with castors, which will store sound components, media and oil sketches. Already we have a good set of speakers and sub woofer. Across from the sound system we have two easy chairs and a set of reading lamps, along with a large hinge-topped storage table low enough to sit on.

The office is equipped with cell phones, land lines, internet, printers, laptop, recharging station and a wireless network. There was a time when I had hoped an artist could do without all that. I have grown up. 

The workroom has the aforementioned dedicated table at one end, and a 12 foot long work counter along one wall. The counter is fitted with undercounter drawers and open cabinets above. Several pegboards will house lots of tools.  This room also houses the car, which is equipped with a plein air easel, Mighty Mite field brush cleaner, panel caddies and rags. Also, and this is important -- sealable metal cans for the used rags. 

The above are what I have found are the essentials for my work. I have, one way or another, found space for these elements wherever I have worked. This is the first time I have been able to pull it all together with enough resources and the experience to know just exactly what it is I really do need, and to do it right. 

You'll notice that I'm bragging here (wow, guys, lookit what I have!) ... but in all honesty I am also trying to share with you the results of years of experimenting and making do. Aside from the long wall easel, I really do think all the elements listed above are necessary in some form -- including a good sound system even if it's a good set of earbuds. Don't compromise. Set up a good studio. Your art will thank you!

Oh... once we get rid of the boxes, I'll post some pics :)