“An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.” – Leonardo da Vinci.
For this week’s post I thought I’d do something a little different and show the place where the magic happens, my Sanctum of Study. All of my artwork is carried out in this room; formerly a spare bedroom containing a bed and pink walls. Once I started becoming serious about becoming an artist towards the end of 2013 I started making changes, got rid of the bed and put a small desk in there; a humble space where I spent a couple of hours a week drawing.
As I began to spend more time drawing and started painting, I realised that I needed the space to be more appropriate for what I wanted and then the work began. I painted the room, white walls rather than pink which is much more appropriate and I began collecting art materials which gradually built up over the course of time. I’ve also collected art prints and ornaments from Paris, Rome and various art galleries. My wife then bought me a unit; purpose-built to house a computer but adapted to house my art materials and books. The great thing about this unit is that once everything is finished with and put in it’s place, I close the unit and the studio no longer looks like a bombsite.
Thus the spare bedroom became a Sanctum – A private retreat from which most people are excluded.
This picture shows the unit once closed and everything’s away where it lives. Cut off on the left are my two desks; I usually use these to draw and paint on as I need a higher chair to reach the desk inside the unit comfortably.
The drawing of the Arc de Triomphe is a print that I bought whilst in Paris, I find it really inspiring to surround myself in artwork and this is the perfect place to do so. Also on the side of the unit, although it may be too dark to make out properly, is a spray painting of the Colosseum that I bought from a street artist in Rome.
This view shows the desks better; excuse the paint marks all over the desk I was going to clean it again but I thought it may add to the atmosphere of this being an art studio. A fellow artist and friend of mine is a very hands on messy painter, a strong believer in a messy studio and would see my particular set up as unused, however I’m sure he’d be proud to see that I left the paint splatter on the desk for the photograph.
Also something to note, the window is North facing and I get good light in this room, something that is certainly taken for granted, had this spare room had a South facing window things would have been very different.
Here’s the workstation open, it holds all of my materials, sketchbooks, art books, canvases and more. I have also stuck up various art prints, photos, maps and a calendar. This is my box of inspiration and a gift from my wife that I’m eternally grateful for. Before having this unit I couldn’t have appreciated the value of such a thing, but since having it I couldn’t be without it; ease of access and tidiness is priceless when it comes to creating art for me; when inspiration hits, the last thing I want to do is spend two hours searching for that number 2 Filbert brush which “I know I left over there somewhere next to the thingy!”.
I should add that this room doesn’t look anything like this when I’m actually working, I have stuff all over the place; several palletes of paint, pencils, charcoal, water, coffee, energy drinks, paper scattered everywhere and paint all over the walls. This is just how the room looks between projects or works. Also if I’m in there reading, I don’t make much mess when I’m doing that.
On the subject of reading, this is my collection of art books that I keep in the workstation, well most of them are art books some are more for reference or have artworks depicted in them. This collection started around January 2014 when a friendly lady at an evening art class gave me the Pre-Raphaelites book after a discussion about the types of artwork I like. I hadn’t heard of the Pre-Raphaelites back then and in the time since then it’s unbelievable to think how much I have learned, not just about that particular group of artists but the art world in general. I have the college course to thank for that, there’s been an awful lot of research to do over the last year and it’s taught me alot.
The Eminem book that is in there is actually not art related as such and is there because it doesn’t fit in my other book case which contains smaller books that are not art related. In fact, I have an obsession with buying new books and need to get a large book case soon, eventually purchasing a lease on a library at the rate I’m going.
This end of the room is a bit messier than the rest at the moment, it shows my other bookcase and various pieces of my artwork and an art print of the Mona Lisa and one of the Eiffel Tower.
Also on top of the bookcase is a replica statue of Michelangelo’s David and a brass Roman soldier. One problem that I have is that I’m a trinket collector, whenever I go somewhere I feel the need to bring a piece of it back with me, usually in the form of art prints or ornaments but it’s a habit that could easily run away with itself if I’m not careful. Still though, it’s probably more acceptable than having a studio full of dead animals and human skulls as I don’t think that would go down too well.
Anyway, that’s it, that’s an insight into my Sanctum of Study, a slight difference to the usual set ups most men like to have like a shed full of tools and a workbench or a garage with a pool table and a bar often referred to as ‘Man Caves’; this is my sanctuary and a place of learning, peacefulness and creativity.
Although slightly cluttered it provides the inspiration needed to carry out my work and never suffer from artist’s block, in fact I’m not at all sure what that feels like I think there’s too many creative options available for it to even be a recognised problem but that’s just my opinion.
As for the quote at the start of this post by Leonardo da Vinci, I find that I agree with it completely, having worked in large studio spaces it’s certainly easier to become distracted, discipline of the mind is vital in this trade and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Featured Image: Gandalf searching the manuscripts of Minas Tirith searching for information about the One Ring – Screenshot from The Fellowship of the Ring directed by Peter Jackson based on the books by JRR Tolkien.