New studio blues
Robert Genn

August 7, 2009

Dear Rodney,

Yesterday, Teressa Bernard of Vancouver, BC, Canada, wrote, "Even though I 
really love my new space, it's taken more time than I thought to get 
acclimatized and to feel like painting. It's almost like I left my creativity 
behind in my old place. Do most painters experience this when they move?"

Thanks, Teressa. Apart from using the changeover as a procrastination tool, 
it's a good idea to get things right in the new location.

Some of us have a greater tolerance for this change. Some plein air wizards 
can get immediately creative in a field of cabbages. Others spend so much 
time setting up and complaining in fine places that sunset happens first. It's 
good training for artists to go to work in a variety of places.

Back in the new studio, lighting, elbow-room, Feng Shui considerations and 
lack of accumulated clutter can annoy the muse and send her packing. Seemingly 
inconsequential changes like the placement of furniture can be blockers as 
well. (I knew a woman who left her husband because he moved their dining-room 
table. To be fair, there was another factor--he was a regular user of tomato 

Easel placement and time-and-motion considerations for palette, equipment, 
etc., are vital. You need to keep moving things around until they feel right. 
Here are a few ideas:

Try not to have your back toward a door.
Move sound-volume controls to close at hand.
Consider increasing the amount of general lighting.
Get a speakerphone. Get comfortable.

You also need to make clear lines in the sand for the new neighbors and your 
habitual drop-ins. It's okay to be peculiar, and it's important to understand 
our own peculiarities. Like "The Princess and the Pea," many of us are HSP 
(Highly Sensitive Persons). We need to find and zap the aggravating peas. 

If all else fails, try squeezing out. Get started. While it's best to get 
things about right, the onset of the creative process can draw you past an 
imperfect environment. Decent work trumps all. 

Best regards,


PS: "As I was sitting in my chair, 
I knew the bottom wasn't there, 
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat, 
Ignoring little things like that." (Hughes Mearns, 1875-1965)

Esoterica: Your studio is a sanctuary, a workshop, a classroom and a throne 
room. Your easel is its central altar and you are its high priest. Like the 
dog who circles before lying down, you need to enter in a circumspect manner, 
take your place as a central character and please yourself. The studio is more 
of a fetish than most artists let on. Get the feeling right and you'll thrive.