Thinking about how space impacts our art practices
This is a topic that often comes up in art groups or art classes. Some have a separate studio space, while others use any odd corner in their house, even the dining room table. I recently was at an artist’s studio where she has a lovely outdoor setting and fellow artists can create on a picnic table outside under beautiful old trees on preserved farm land (weather permitting, of course.) That was a great way to connect with nature while creating. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to create by any means.
As mentioned before, I am NOT throwing shade on where you can create. Believe me, the dining room table can be an oasis from everything else, if that’s where you can make some art.
I have the blessing of a spacious studio that is outside of my house. That studio is often used for painting, printmaking, other art exploration, both messy and administrative work, and even Zoom meetings (more on that later.) I also have a small room in my home dedicated to art, which includes lots of supplies and a modest amount of room to create.
I used to think “Oh, I can create anywhere! Just give me a pencil, paper and work surface and I can make a drawing.” That perspective is changing for me as I see the inherent special quality of a studio space that is “set apart.”
Sanctuary or sacred space
Creating is about thinking and problem solving. So, while it may seem haphazard or random, it’s not at all. It takes concentration and thought. The ability to be set away from daily life – cell phones, household chores, children/teens, even pets – has become more important in my personal art practice.
There is a concept of “sanctuary”… I have been thinking about how that it is needed to unleash our most creative selves into the world. Safety. Scared Space – these concepts relate to being free from pressures of life, family, obligations, the 24-hour news cycle. In another way, we need a cocoon. A cocoon that protects while the tender soul is changing inside. The meaning of sanctuary that I am presenting is the one of complete safety where the troubles of the world are not able to touch you.
On a podcast about the act of art practice and the brain science behind it, the scientist guest and the host discussed how one’s brain is activated in a different area by creativity, performance (like music or sports), etc. This flow state is how one’s brain behaves while in engaging more deeply in the creative process. The podcast guest recommended meditating before making art to sort of “clear the decks” for creation. This is amazing that our brains are “wired” to create and perform!
So, do something creative, by all means! And I challenge you to think about how the act of creation requires a different mental state.
What is intriguing me is: How can I optimize my environment to increase that mental state? And the Zoom meetings mentioned earlier are a bit of an issue. Of course, my studio had Internet service and I bring my laptop there to work on administrative tasks, such as running my website or posting photos on social media. It’s been very convenient to do live and recorded art courses in my studio. Over time, I have also jumped on Zoom meetings for various projects or volunteer organizations I am in, not necessarily art-related. Sometimes, as with all meetings, one is left with stress, or a head-full of “to dos” and follow-ups. My head is swimming!
The solution might be not doing Zoom meetings at the studio and trying to arrange my schedule to do those meetings at home. I feel that would preserve the atmosphere of “sanctuary” in the space. The specialness of the environment needs to be protected, so to speak.
An interesting concept, right? I will tell you how it works out!
Where do you create? How do you make your creating space a special environment. Tell me in the comments below.