Studio Tour: John Salminen

Like many artists, I work in a studio that isn’t the result of an architectural plan,” says watercolor artist John Salminen, “but instead grew in bits and pieces.”

When his son left for college 16 years ago, Salminen turned the 10×14-foot basement bedroom into a studio, which quickly filled up with crates and paintings.

Originally Salminen used a 4x6x3-foot area with homemade compartments for storage, supplemented by the drawers attached to the workbench (where he keeps his Stephen Quiller watercolors and a mix of brushes) plus a file cabinet. In a very short time, however, his workspace was crowded out by large framed work, crates, matboard, foam board, framing supplies and Arches 140-lb cold-pressed bulk paper.

Last year the couple converted their screened-in front porch into a year-round solarium (shown at left), so another option presented itself: They decided to extend their basement to fill the area under the solarium, creating a new 8×34-foot space adjacent to the existing studio. Two connecting doorways allow the old studio and the new storage space to merge into one very workable arrangement.

Now having an additional area dedicated to his correspondence and recordkeeping allows Salminen to better organize business materials so that less time is taken from his painting.

This area now houses organized storage (found at garage sales) for lithography prints, framed and unframed paintings, and art materials and supplies.

A new egress window—added for outside light and in case the room ever becomes a bedroom—makes this end of the new space a great choice for mounting, matting and framing.

Having won awards in national and international exhibitions, including the American Watercolor Society Gold Medal and the National Watercolor Society Silver Star Award, John Salminen often serves as a juror for prestigious contests such as our own Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Competition. His paintings have been showcased in more than 60 magazine and book articles, as well. To learn of upcoming exhibitions and to see his workshop schedule, visit his website at


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