Winter generally finds even the most devoted of plein air painters spending more time in the controlled comfort of their studios. The word studio is derived from the Latin word stadium, meaning “to study.” I was recently reminded of the philosophical importance of studio space in an online conversation between two pastel artist friends. Ed Chesnovitch was thanking Marla Baggetta for sharing the words of American philosopher Joseph Campbell on studios.
Joseph Campbell on a Sacred Creative Space: Being a fan of the writings of Joseph Campbell, I went back through my library and found these thoughts from him:
“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.” (Joseph Campbell)
These thoughts from Mr. Campbell reinforce the importance of the studio as a sacred place beyond a well-appointed area for painting and storage of art supplies. Large elaborate studio spaces might be the dream of many painters and one worth working towards, but the reality is that the humblest of space will suffice if it is designated, utilized and honored. It is a place where the artist retreats from the daily world for the sole purpose of creativity. What is most important is the work produced, not the studio itself.
Depending on the personality of the artist and his or her ability to resist outside intrusions, a space separate from living quarters may be required. If this cannot be justified, effort should be made to demarcate the studio space part from the living space. Set time aside as if you were working away from home and were unable to do daily chores such as laundry, cooking, yard work, correspondence, etc.
The reverence associated to the studio space is akin to places of meditation, prayer, and worship. While most studios are designated physical workspaces, they could be thought of as the places where artists retreat to produce their art. Some may find a quiet corner, take solace in a church, or find nature to be their temple.
A Magical Atelier: The French term for studio is atelier. Besides referring to an artist’s place of study, atelier curiously can have the connotation of housing an alchemist or wizard. So besides being a place for meditation and prayer, the studio/atelier can be the place where you allow yourself to experiment, transform, and produce magic – Voila!
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