9 Tips to Help Get Your Studio Sorted


I am not sure if you are like me but I really struggle to keep my studio tidy.  I seem to sometimes work in a crazy frenzy of creativity and throw paint and materials all over the place.  At the end of the day the area looks like a disaster zone!  So in an attempt to improve slovenly habits which may creep in, I share a few tips with you.

Firstly, and to get into the vibe of it all, we need to know that a true professional keeps his studio tidy.  A messy studio indicates a messy mind, despite what you have read about other artists (some of them famous.)

  • Simplify your possessions and keep only what is necessary.   Go through your old brushes, used tubes of paint and paper, getting rid of what is not needed.  A clear mind is a creative mind.  
  • Do all your tasks slowly and deliberately in true Zen like fashion.  Rushing around doing random things will only dissatisfy and distract you.  Multi-tasking is out, one task at a time is best; this keeps you in creative mode.
  • Designate a daily time and place for creating.  That way, other daily tasks fit in with your creative time.  If a task is important enough to do regularly, it is important enough to lock in a time for it.
  • Leave a space of time between your daily tasks, that way, you can relax if one task takes longer than you imagined.  The whole idea is to free up stress for creating!
  • Make it a ritual that you clean up and prepare your studio for the next day.  A studio in chaos is quite disheartening the next day and can put your creative time in question. We all have experienced the dilemma of whether to get started or give in to something else that is tempting us.
  • When he is finished for the day, a true professional  lays his tools of trade neatly out ready to start the next day, the floor is swept, brushes cleaned and everything put back in its place.
  • He would lay out tubes of paint, brushes, rags, mediums etc.   With a new work, the canvas would be primed ready and the concept confirmed in his journal with sketches and ideas noted over time. All is ready to inspire him to start keenly the next day.
  • In the case of a half completed work, preparation for the next day ideally would also include journal work.  That means writing thoughts of your progress in your journal with some sketches to inspire you.
  • It is also helpful to write ideas about your intentions for the next day.  What do you hope to achieve?  Where are you at with this work?  Are you happy with your progress?  What would you like to do differently?  This helps so much the next time you working.

If you are a hobby artist just wanting to have fun, a tidy work space would still apply and the journal work would be not be necessary.

This all sounds a big harsh, I know, but the difference in your creativity will amaze you!

Here is a picture of a messy studio, how could anybody work there?

Artist's Studio

Thank you to David Eastwood for the following photograph:
Casa Morandi, 2012
paper, cardboard, foam core, wood, plastic, wire, glue, ink and paint
25 × 32.2 × 36.8 cm
Photograph by David Eastwood

Artist's Studio2

Courtesy the artist and Robin Gibson Gallery

This picture shows a studio which is just begging you to get started!  I know it is not possible to always store your things out of the way and have a minimalist work space like this, yet  I believe these  two pictures show how we can be motivated and keen to get started or otherwise.

Look out  for Tutorial 2 in our Master class Series, coming soon!


Quotes for Artists

Ice Man Skeleton

“After moments of real creation, when you give a great deal, you will become empty for a little while and feel despair.  You will feel you have failed.  You will not be satisfied – but the purgatory of struggle has to be loved. With me, I love the process of making the part, but after opening night, I am invariably in despair.”  Richard Boleslavsky


Are You on the Lookout for What You Have Never Really Seen? Investigating Rene Magritte

Mar 2013 3 031

One of my favourite artists is Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte (1898-1967.)

Magritte was a member of the Surrealist movement active in
Europe from the early 1920s.

I am continuously inspired by his challenging works.  He questions what we have been socialized to believe and what we see as reality on a daily basis. When you go about your daily grind, do you really see?  Do you look at details where there are things you have never really seen?  These images challenge the status quo on a visual level.  Sometimes being jolted out of mediocrity is a refreshing reminder of our malaise.

I recently walked past this defibrillator Inside a cupboard on my way to the library and stopped to ponder it.  It suddenly raised many questions.  Had it ever been used?  Why was it placed in a dark corner with a rubbish bin beneath?  Since it was locked with a key, would the sick person be dead before the key man was found?  How long had it been there?  How many people knew how to use it?  Were these people readily available? etc. etc.  These ponderings are common to artists such as Magritte.


Here are some of Rene Margritte’s amazing works and above a piece I was inspired to do from them. These are all the result of stopping to ponder everyday objects, asking yourself questions and recognizing the relationship these have with other disparate objects.

17-Rene-Magritte-Baucis-Landscape-1966 The Pilgrim tumblr_lezicyKSSK1qah3abo1_400

You can read more about Rene Margritte at the Art Story site.


Quotes for Artists


The Age of Innocence

“The path of humility requires the strength to let go of our need to control ourselves and our world and to recognize that indeed we are not the most powerful; there is something larger than us, and we must simply learn how to connect with this in order to find our true answers.” Brenda Shoshanna


Two Nudes, Two Drawings, Two Outcomes

Nudes and Portraits 001 Nudes and Portraits 003

These two drawing are of the same subject in reverse.  You may think the top drawing is the best one but it is not.  The second drawing was done in a state of purposelessness and came from my heart.  Painting/drawing is not just for the sake of making pictures rather it ideally comes out of the unconscious. This is where the ultimate reality lies.

Why is the lower Zen drawing the better one you ask?  It is because at first glance, the image is unrecognizable.  Success! I have exploited the time between your first sight and your recognition of a human form.

I have also captured your attention for a short time.  Success!  I have confused you – this is the hallmark of a good drawing or painting.

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


“Don’t think of what you have to do, don’t consider how to carry it out. The art will only go smoothly when it takes the artist himself by surprise.”  Eugen Herrigel



Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


“Sunk ‘without purpose’ in what he is doing, the artist is brought face to face with that moment when the work, hovering before him in ideal lines, realizes itself as if of its own accord.” Eugen Herrigel