When it comes to making art, I have worked in all kinds of spaces! From kitchen tables, to attic bedroom, to the small partitioned work zones we had in college. Six years ago, I wanted to begin making art again, but I didn’t have an space or any idea what kind of art I wanted to make.
The turning point for me was taking over our spare bedroom as a ‘studio’ – which at that time felt like such a wildly daring thing to do! Wouldn’t that be selfish of me, what was I going to do in there anyway, what if I messed up the room, where would the visitors stay…..so many worries! I did it anyway and it changed everything for me!
To find a place in your life for your creative passion, you must first give it a place, however small, in your home. To quote one of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert:
“Embrace creativity and do not care about the results. It’s better to be a beginner until the end of life than waiting forever to be perfect.”
So I hung up the pictures and postcards that I had collected over the years, filled the room with trinkets and books that inspired me and blasted out my favourite music. In the beginning I sat at the desk usually at night, drawing, doodling, playing with paint in a sketchpad (I didn’t have an easel then).
Over time I built up some art materials and tools and did some online art classes. That space became a huge source of happiness in my life and a retreat into my own creative world. You can see how it was a squeeze at times squashed between the window and the door, especially when I started painting big!
The best thing about it was that I could leave my stuff there and come back to it the next time. I found myself wandering into the studio at night and staying… after a while a habit forms and the work invites you back.
If you are feeling that urge to create, my number one tip is to lay claim to a space of your own. Just go for it! Give yourself the permission to convert a nook, a closet, a corner or even a wall. Is there potential in the corner of a bedroom or under the stairs? So what should you think about when setting up an art space?
Here are the main things to consider:
Good light is really important! Most people, myself included, don’t have good working light, especially in the Winter months and if you work at night. I recommend you get a daylight lamp on a tripod that you can move around easily. This is one I bought from the Daylight Company and I love it so much I have two!
In the beginning you might not have much materials to store (which is fine!). In that case an Ikea Raskog trolley is great – it can be tucked under a desk when not in use. I also like their large Flytta trolley which can double as a palette holder on top.
I find picture ledges fantastic – you can see how I use them to hold my paints. I also pin things to the edges. They take up so little room – so if you just have a corner to work in these are perfect. And they look nice too! Ikea have really affordable ones here.
I started with a table and then invested in an easel. Both are great but if you are starting out I would go with a table first. The bigger the better! Add some picture ledges above it and you have an efficient set up. Below you can see my table mid painting session – busy but it works!
If you decide to invest in an easel, there are many options. I went for a middle of the road one – the Mabef Studio easel – which I got on special as a birthday present!
You can see in the photos above how I attach the daylight lamp to my easel and place my trolley to the side. Both the trolley and easel are on wheels which means I can move my set up around to suit the work.
Some other things to consider:
Get an apron to protect your clothes!
Protect the table and the floor with something (I didn’t!)
Make the space your own with a comfy chair, music, books and anything that inspires you!
I hope you feel inspired to set up your own space now – just go for it!