Welcome once again to "Hacking the Studio," a monthly feature here at Lost Coast Post that opens my studio up to you a wee bit at a time, showing a few of the ways I make my creative space as functional, organized, and inspirational as possible. My studio occupies most of the second floor of my apartment, a long, narrow room with a lofty ceiling and fairly poor natural lighting (the biggest drawback of this space.) It is my studio, living room, library, and bedroom with a sunny balcony at one end and the tiny kitchen at the other. I have made it my sanctuary and it is a place I adore. There are twinkly lights, paper lanterns, mismatched and stacked thrift store furniture, two cats, and lots of stuff. I'm hoping to do a little video tour of my space once summer break starts but for now, let's get into this month's "hacks."
As I mentioned, I am owned by two cats: Tuscany is a shy, temperamental, manipulative, and secretly snuggly calico girl while Marley Bear is a huge marmalade sweetie who is unlike any cat I've ever known. Bear, in particular, loves to be up on my studio table. When he is not snoring contentedly in his favorite Amazon box, he is in my face and in the middle of everything, looking for love. This can be a major problem if I am painting. To help prevent painty paw prints, my paint palettes are those hinged tin boxes that pencil sets come in (any shallow metal tin with a lid will work.) When I need to get up, I just simply close the lid on the wet paint and walk away worry free. I never clean the palette; I just let it dry and pour new paint on top. Sometimes I line it with the glossy, white backing from laminating sheets. Acrylic paints peel right up from this surface and allow me to remove dried paint in large pieces if needed.
I've posted this tip before but it is one that bears repeating. I have several wirebound sketchbooks and in order to identify their contents quickly, I use round, metal-rimmed tags hung from the binding. This means I don't have to pull each book down trying to find the one I need. I also use this technique in my classroom. A student can find his/her own sketchbook immediately on a shelf filled with 30 identical books.
The Inspiration Shel(ves):
This a relatively new feature of my studio; I think I started my inspiration collection about five years ago but it has grown quickly. Next to my studio table, directly to my right, I have gathered all sorts of little figures that make me smile. There are monsters, robots, characters, and critters. Many of them represent favorite images and creatures that occur frequently in my work (otherwise known as my lexicon.) Whenever I require a burst of inspiration, I need only turn my head. If I am feeling stuck, I will rearrange the figures (dusting as I go) and often, the simple process of interacting with these happy-making things will provide the burst of positive thought I need to plow through a creative block.