From Dean Dowd on November 11, 2008 in General Remodel
The art studio is a very subjective place. So, for that matter, is art itself. It is one artist’s expression of life, nature, emotion, industry…the entire gamut of human feeling and observation. Just as personal taste and style are evident in each artist’s work, so then should the perfect artist’s retreat reflect that singular aesthetic. That being said, there are plenty of features that most artists would agree provide inspiration and guide those muses of lore that still drive creative expression to this day.
Personally, I am an artist of a different style, with my own ideas of an inspirational environment. Luckily I am spending some time in sunny Palm Springs, CA and have had the pleasure to meet and speak with several visual artists in a short period of time. So I decided to ask them what their perfect artist’s retreat would look like. I just added one stipulation: It has to be in your house. Here is the crux of what they described:
Lighting was incredibly important. Daylighting, or the use of natural lighting, took the cake in that regard. I heard a lot about windows and skylights. The perfect artist’s retreat would be well lit with brightly colored walls to fill the room. Natural light also helps bring out color. If nature is your muse, then let daylight be your intermediary.
I suggested an outdoor room. Although it would have to be temperature-controlled, especially in this desert and other more arid climates, to prevent damage to vital materials. Another solution would be window coverings to deflect sunlight and heat (not to mention energy-efficient windows) at the hottest times of the day and for when the studio was not in use.
Another key advantage to a naturally lit retreat is the view. Perhaps this is why I’ve met so many artists in Palm Springs. This sunny city sits directly at the foot of Mount San Jacinto, towering more than 10,000 feet above the valley. But say you don’t sit on or at the foot of a desert mountain. That’s no reason to close up shop, so to speak. Simply incorporate landscaping into your design. Choose plants that mean something to you personally. That you find beautiful, inspiring.
Of course, knowing artists, I know that not every one feels inspiration from 9-to-5. That’s why some artificial lighting is essential for those 3AM wake-up calls to action. And when I asked about ideal indoor lighting, track lighting was the nearly-universal answer. By that I mean moveable track lighting, enabling control over the light’s focus.
This also gives the advantage of insight into how an art piece would look on a gallery wall – no small ability for the professional artist.
Of course practicality and convenience must plays their part as well. I have seen the myriad of paints, brushes and canvases lying around the studio. Oftentimes they are shoved into corners, piled on shelves or even stored remotely for lack of a convenient place. Therefore, the artists I spoke to cried out for built-in shelving, racks for canvases, and other storage for the many other tools of their trade.
Overall, everyone agrees that only the artist can design the perfect artist’s retreat. Of course, some help is valuable, but again, the artist’s retreat should be primarily an expression of the artist. These are but simple suggestions that most artists I’ve talked to agree on. Yet if you are not a fan of large windows and bright sunlight, then by all means build yourself a low-lit, mood-enhancing studio – whatever best inspires you.
One more thing: for the digital artists out there, you either won’t want the bright lighting or you’ll want to make sure those blinds are blinding enough.
And have a look at this artroom being built from scratch on “Remodeling for Geeks.”
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