At Work in the Studio With::Penland Artists

by heatherkp

For quite some time now I’ve been contemplating how to merge my love of art and design and my passion for organization.  While I was away at Penland I found a little seed that’s germinated and has been pushing it’s way slowly to the surface.  In that wonderful nurturing and creative environment I spent a lot of time walking around and observing other artists, their “studio” (albeit temporary for most) spaces and the work being created.  One particular evening we were visiting the Resident artists studio’s and the idea really struck me to start a blog interview series with artists about their sense of or lack of organizational skills and how that affects their work.

Above and Below::Studio space of Jewelry Artist Jeong Ju Lee

Above and Below::Studio space of Daniel Marinelli

Below::Studio space of Textile Artist and Weaver Robin Johnston

Today I’m bringing you the introduction to this new series.  I can’t promise how frequently I will be doing interviews, much of that depends upon who I’ve come across and their willingness to share their organization or lack of.  For many artists and creative types being organized is just not a big priority and often staying organized is a struggle.  Revealing this to the world may not be something many artists are willing to share.   So many people continue to feel embarassed or asshamed about being disorganized but I am here to say that EVERYONE struggles with organization in some area of their life (or has in the past).

Above and Below::Studio space and workshop of Woodworker Tom Shields

Upon speaking with many artists though I’ve come to realize that for all of us there is a cycle to the way we work.  We carve out a space, gather the materials we think we might need to begin and we dig in.  For some creators they need to end each work day (or session) with a bit of re-organizing and tidying up.  Others will continue to work right along side the ever growing piles of detritus, materials, abandoned projects, dishes, tools and whatever else accumulates.   Some artists can go days, weeks or months before they feel the need to stop and tidy up again.  What prompts this action?  Is it the completion of a big project or a feeling of distraction or getting stuck?

Above and Below:: Iron Forging workshop

Above and Below:: Woodworking workshop and workbenches of student artists

I wonder for each of us, how does the order or chaos of our working environment impact the artwork we create?  When you look at someone’s artwork is there any clue as to their working methods?  Could you venture to guess if they are organized or dis-organized?  How does our environment help or hinder our creations as artists?  These are all questions I am interested in exploring further as we meet other artists and discuss their working methods, see behind the scenes into their working spaces and perhaps learn some organizing tips from some of them.

Above and Below:: Metal Casting studio workbenches of student artists and the instructor

Above and Below::Studio workspace of Bookmaking student artists

Above and Below::Studio work spaces of Letterpress student artists

Above and Below:: Studio work spaces of Encaustic student artists and instructor

As I wandered from studio to studio observing and speaking with artists about how they work and taking photographs I found that most of the time people tried to tidy up when I asked if I could photograph them and or their spaces.  “No” I said, I want to capture you the way you really work.  I really appreciate the willingness of all these artist to allow me to share their working spaces with you here.

Above:: studio workspace of fellow surface design artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis

Call to action::If you are an artist and feel you are particularly organized or dis-organized and want to share your working practices and space I’d love you to comment here or email me.

Above:: studio work space of my instructor Jason Pollen;>)

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4 Comments to “At Work in the Studio With::Penland Artists”

  1. Hi Heather,
    I like your recollections…
    I have a URL for Tom Shield’s Website: http://www.tomshieldsart.com
    It has lots of nice pictures of his crazy chairs.
    xoxo Laura

  2. Love this idea! Sharing artist’s studios was one thing hoped to create one day on my blog but never had the time to follow through. I love your idea of being authentic in sharing how artists really work! I have very specific ways of organizing that I’d love to share.

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