Quite a few of the studios, on top of being enviable workplaces, were works of art—beautifully designed, every detail and colour, texture and nuance revealing much about the artist they home.
Other studios, no less wonderful and inspiring, were more about the pure work of creating: no surface or wall or floor too special for accidental paint spatter or clay dust. Mess, glorious mess, abounded in some (to my huge comfort as I like to work in a clutter, too).
Still others were more impromptu—one amazing painter worked in a makeshift aquarium for lack of a better word, a table in the middle of a parking lot downtown with a plastic “cage” around it, so the spray paint he works with wouldn’t go awry.
In all, the evidence, thrill and reward of labour was everywhere.
I came away from the two days inspired to work, work, work, more in love with (and grateful for) my own little office than ever, and struck by an intriguing (to me) contrast between the artist spaces I visited and my own writing haven.
Almost without exception the artist studios were filled with light. Huge windows let the world in, bringing what the outside closer to view, closer in. One studio (Noreen Spence’s!) is shaped like a hexagon and juts from the side of her home like a turret. It is floor to ceiling windows on four or five sides; being in it is like being suspended in air or sitting in a tree watching the world around you.
My writing space is a nook in the heart of my house, built intentionally into a corner, with no windows to distract me as I work at bringing what is deeply inside out. If Noreen’s space is an open-branched tree, mine is a small, brightly lit cave. Both are lovely, if very different in the head space they suggest for our individual creative processes—and those differences fascinated me.
If you get a chance to visit local artists’ workplaces, I really recommend it—great fun, but also affirming and encouraging.