A good work space should allow you a certain amount of privacy even though there might be other people or things around as potential distractions. It should not trigger any strong negative emotions from you, such as irritation, frustration, sadness or insecurity.
Although we all hope we have an undisturbed personal studio that can be fully dedicated to arts and crafts, the reality rarely meets such idealism. Most of us have a family to tender to, others have job or school. We go online and look at the average monthly rent of a studio, and we refuse to pay that certain amount for somewhere we might only stay for a couple hours each week.
This determines that most of us who duel identity of an artist and an ordinary person with duties suffer the uncertainty of working at in shared space. Sometimes our neighbors decide to abuse their right of freedom and blow your house with low-frequency beat and vulgar “music”. Sometimes your kid runs around and bumps over your color plate (ouch!)ouch! The other times, the house simply looks too messy for you to sit down and do some creation- you feel the urgency if mop and sweep and fold the clothes, etc…
Therefore, I’d like to share some useful tips that will help you to set up a comfortable and encouraging workspace.
The most important first step, find your spot!!
It does not matter if this spot is your basement, or an empty spot next to the washing machine (though I won’t recommend that), or a small chair next to an infant bed, or simply be a seat you put in the living room. Try to get yourself acquainted to the spot before you make up your mind. A good work spot should be comfortable for both your physics and psych. For example, it is okay to work in a coffee shop. However, you probably don’t want to go paint or write at a bar 11pm at night. You might get hangover the next day instead of a finished piece; You might not want to paint at a daycare: are you sure you can remain concentrated and be responsible to your work when you have 18 kids screaming in the background? (No offense to children. But seriously?)
A good work space should allow you a certain amount of privacy even though there might be other people or things around as potential distractions. It should not trigger any strong negative emotions from you, such as irritation, frustration, sadness or insecurity. (Notice: Insecurity does not equal to your reluctance to painting. If you still feel uncomfortable about the painting process itself, see this post for how to get over your initial fear)
The second step would be to create a barricade.
If you have an independent room to use, that would be the best option. If not, use curtain, books, or other material when you are at home to mark your “territory”. Also, notify your family member or whoever might come talk to you that you’re in your zone, and they shall notify you, with the fundamental courtesy, before stepping into your area.
Next, get a good pair of headphones. Classical music is always a great companion and stimulation for art. From List to Schubert, one could always find the flawless peace in classical music. Also, I find RainyMood a very useful website. The sound of nature is quite soothing especially if one is facing a creator’s block.
Thirdly, carefully arrange your equipment
Not having a private studio means that we don’t have the right to randomly dispose paints, sponges, knives and other equipment around us while we are working. Also, it means we MUST clean everything up immediately after our work is done.
The easiest way of minimizing this tedious and stressful experience would be categorizing your materials and equipment. Canvas can be stored separately in a cupboard or bookshelf, and only taken out when they’re needed; As for paints, I encourage people to try out different media before they make up their mind on specializing in one. Therefore, the best way would be categorizing your paint according to types, and then colors. Artist’s cases sold at supply stores are always a good choice. Get something that is small, portable, and stick to a specific type of case, so you can stack the cases up neatly when you don’t need them.
Do the same thing with colored pencils, pastels, markers etc. I understand that they might originally come in nice packages, however, it is still better to get an actual case for them, especially for pencils and pastel, whose original packages are rarely solid enough to be taken around to your different painting locations all the time.
Forth, a comfortable seat
You would be surprised how much magic a comfortable seat does to your artwork. If you are going to a public library, or coffee shop, bring a nice, small mattress for you. On the other hand, enjoy the luxury of an actual single-person sofa or soft chair when you paint at home. A small, tall stool is also a good choice when you go work at studios on college campus, or are simply doing quick sketches in a museum.
Do notice, pay attention to the lower part of your spine. You don’t want to use a mattress that is overly soft since it causes pain to your lower back if you stay seated for too long. You would like to find something that is healthy for your physical body — something that supports and allows you to stay at the same positions at least for an hour without any significant pain or sore.
Here are all the beginner’s tips for you! I was going to write about whether to use an easel or not, but then I realized that there are so much to talk about regarding this topic, so I decided to save it to another post.
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