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Getting organized doesn’t mean that you have to rid your studio of everything impractical. As minimalism guru Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, explains: “Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy.”
The following are studio staples in the eyes of several artists. They answer the question: What sparks joy in your studio?
I have a small collection of small cream pitchers and tumblers of very colorful Deruta pottery from Italy. I use them to hold brushes that I want near me when I’m painting.
Their wonderful colors and shapes greet me every time I go to my painting board. It’s a cheerful start to the painting process.
My painting apron is my “spark of joy.” It marks a milestone. I received it from Cheap Joe’s as a congratulatory gift when I became a signature member of the American Watercolor Society in 2009.
Just putting on the apron puts me in a frame of mind to paint. I wear it in my studio, at workshops, when I demo and when I’m plein air painting. I’ve also adapted it with kangaroo pockets that hold my value finder, 6-inch ruler, kneaded eraser, hand mirror, iPad, sheets of paper towels and small pieces of watercolor paper to test colors.
I won’t work without music. Having a stereo in the studio to play music definitely helps with my mood and keeps me focused. It’s also important for me to have a soothing cup of green tea right by my easel. Taken together, the music and tea create a relaxing atmosphere that really pushes me forward.
I share a 3,300-square- foot studio space with my artist wife, Stephanie. Studio order begins with our two large taborets that I built for us. We call them our “mother ships,” because we leave them in place near our main easels.
We also use smaller rolling taborets — our “space shuttles” — when working on projects in other parts of the studio. Each taboret has two separate sliding shelves for watermedia and oils, a glass palette on top, a third static shelf for miscellaneous media and wheels in case they ever need to be moved.
Simply put: Not only are they indispensable, they spark so much joy. There’s no way we’d ever consider jettisoning them.
When I’m stuck on a specific subject, nothing is better than a book to change my focus completely. I’ll just grab a book from my library and spend a few quiet minutes looking at paintings that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to accomplish. It’s a sort of mental yoga or meditation.
Stewart also mentioned his dogs. “There’s something particularly peaceful about the last snuffle of a dog before it goes to sleep at your feet,” he says.
Jean Grastorf referenced the joy of having a studio pet as well. “Lilly, my calico cat, is my best helper,” she notes. “She’s always on the drawing table offering her encouragement.”
This article first appeared in Watercolor Artist. You can subscribe to the magazine here.
How do you find joy in your art studio/space? Tell us in the comments!