Art, the Muse, and a Room

I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces lately. Like what goes into them and what we do with them. Sacred spaces, places that hold a special meaning to ourselves. Spaces like my studio. And my home. When I moved into my home 6 years ago, I gave my house a name: The Perch. It’s my sanctuary. I converted one room over to my artistic studio. My computer desk sits in one corner; Smudge, my Apple powerbook rests on top of it along with a few candles. My workbench is on the opposite wall, where the closet used to be. It's pretty chaotic at the moment. Bottles of Luminere paints and paper and stamps and pens litter the surface. I'm an artist and writer and when I want to be creative, I head into this room. However, I'm also very spiritual. For me, there is no separation between my daily activities and my spiritual life. The two intertwine. And that holds especially true when applied to my art.

Because I see a connection between making art and spirituality, this room transforms from just an ordinary room to something special. It's my altar where my pens and brushes and ideas in my mind mix and merge to form something tangible. The Studio is my sacred space. Like I said, sacred space is a physical or mental place that holds a special meaning or has a specific purpose to you. Mostly what's considered sacred is a feeling we get when we enter a spot that holds great importance to us. And that’s exactly what my studio’s purpose is... a special place where I can write, make art and express myself.

Defining a special space for my art achieves two things. First, it helps me to organize my art. Before I defined the room's purpose and what things I wanted in the room to help my creative endeavors, my art felt disjointed and rushed. I didn't want to ruin the kitchen counter or desk with paint or stamp ink and Exacto knife scratches. Once I converted that room from just another room in my home into a special place that represents my perception of my art I felt free to make the messes that comes with creating art. The closet got ripped out and converted into a dual bookcase and workbench. Inspiring books and magazines now line its shelves. The workbench is a whirlwind mess of half-finished projects, brushes, pens and glue sticks. Dividing the room up into different mini-areas or self contained art focuses, helps me organize where I keep my supplies as well as where each creation takes place.

Second, it prepares my mind to play and be creative. The world, all my worries and the noise inside my head get pushed away. The space brings my focus to the here and now and grants me the right to make mistakes and be childish. The moment I walk into the room my mind enters design mode. Ideas creep out of its corners and my energy levels rise. I light candles and stream music from my iPod. But, once I enter this room, nothing else matters. I give myself permission to create, to make mistakes and to have fun. Schedules and restraints do not exist in the Studio. It's the one place I am free to express and create things for me rather than for others. I may work on a new project for a few minutes only to switch to something else; or I may work on one project for the rest of the night only to have my husband drag me out of the room kicking and screaming.

Every artist needs a room of their own to create his or her works. Some have a small table tucked away in a corner of their apartment while others are fortunate enough to have an entire room rented for devoted for their work. No matter how big or small that place is, everyone seems to agree that their space is personal and sometimes represents an extension of their personality and their beliefs.

Anyone can create his or her own creative sacred studio space. You do not need to be particularly spiritual, per se. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can transform any area into an creative retreat in no time.

Identify what space you have at home or access to. Look at your creative projects, usually they determine exactly how much room you need to effectively create art. Make a list of qualities and items you identify with creativity. Involve your journal in this process by sketching your ideal space in your journal. You do not need to go out to the store (unless you want to) and buy anything new. Look around you and see what things from the list you already own.

I may not need a whole room to stamp and create altered books, but the things I want to surround myself with take up space as well. When you are done planning your space, take the plunge and turn those ideas and sketches into practice. Take time to admire your new space, but make sure you've created a usable space. You WANT to use this space to get dirty.

Creating a sacred artist’s space is fun to do and you don’t need to spend money to make your space. The following is a list of items that you may find helpful when you put together a room of your own. I find adding books and inspiring posters or other items near me helps to focus my mind and get me generating energy and ideas for creating art.

  • Art books or other inspiring books
  • Pens or other artsy things (stamps, paint, brushes, etc)
  • Music
  • Smudge (my computer, handy for writing and graphic design)
  • Tarot deck (for use in inspiring journal entries or reading)
  • Box of images, clipped from magazines or printed off the internet, that you like or sayings that make you feel certain ways
  • Journals
  • Candles and incense
  • Chairs, beds or other comfy seating
  • Light (or lack of!)
  • Funky or inspiring posters
  • Colorful fabrics or drapes that reflect your favorite colors and style

I believe that every artist needs to have some space, whether it's a corner table in their apartment or the whole warehouse luxury. Having predefined spaces allows us to focus our minds and energies we put into the tasks we're doing and pushes us to get more out of our tasks. It expands our traditional perceptions of creativity and helps to turn it into something deeper and more spiritually fulfilling. Any room or space can be defined as sacred if you want it to be. Even the kitchen. Of course you don't have to limit your ideas of sacred space to just art. The Perch also has a funky L-shaped room that I turned into my spiritual center. I go to this room to meditate, think about my life or journal.

So let your imagination run wild! Go build sacred spaces of your own. Strengthen your connection to your art and your soul. Where do you feel most creative? Do you have a favorite room in your home that you seem to find yourself in all the time? Feel free to post examples of your sacred spaces here.

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Thinking space...

Today I have been thinking about my study. Is it just a psychological work space or does it contain a 'spiritual' element too. The answer surprised me, my study is as spiritual as it is practical. On my shelves books by Rollo May and Wittgenstein jostle with works on cognitive and experimental psychology in a dust jacketed Will-to-Power. Even my choice of wallpaper has its own significance outside of the mere practical. I for one will never again view my office as just another room. Thanks innowen.

Yer welcome

Sard, I'll bet that if you look around your whole home, you'll find that all the rooms have some element of you and your beliefs in them. However, from what I recall and you've said... it seems as if your study is probably the room that best fits you.

Sometimes, I can tell what I need by where I spend most of my time in a room. For example, if I crave socialness... I end up downstairs, mostly in the kitchen. If I want to be cozy and snuggly, I end up in my bedroom.

And it's the room you spend most of your time in, right?


Professor Plum, in the study, with a spanner...

You are right inno, I do spend most of my time in my study. However not being much of a dinner party animal myself, I find the kitchen a great place to socialise. My bedroom I try to avoid at all costs and as such it is the one place that least reflects the real me. Hmmm, I have the idea that may be part of a bigger puzzle. Note to self, reclaim master bedroom tonight...

A question of privacy...

Nice article, something we don't see written about much. I like your habit of naming things, like Smudge, I'll have to give that a try. :)

I have such a room myself, that I refer to as my Study, but I have a life-long internal conflict between left-brain and right-brain thinking that prevents me from calling it a Studio, although I've always wanted a real "painter's" studio with easels and canvases stacked against the wall, etc. But I always tell myself that I should do everything digitally anyway nowadays.

I find it interesting/strange that most of the things in my Study I consider very private. Not things I would really share with others. Do you find that with your Studio also?

Let the psycho-analysis begin... :)

With work it's best to just start.

privacy and space concerns

Thanks for posting. Yes I confess, I'm one of those horrid Mac users who name everything. My computers, my stuffed animals, my car; everything has got to mean something to me.

Of course, you don't have to call your room a studio. I do it because it feels right and it defines that space for me. If the idea of a study works for you, and that's how you utilize it, then be proud of it. Fill it with things that you find studious and artsy. There's no reason why you can't have one room function for both. I have a friend who's special space is her library. And she's got books and masks and maps all over that room. But she's also got her art supplies and dance costumes strewn all over the room too! :)

As for the issue of privacy... since the room also doubles as the spare bedroom, I don't have a lot of items that I'd consider private in there. Those I keep in the bedroom or in my altar room, away from prying eyes. But, as you can see with my articles, I do enjoy sharing my work and methods and books with others... so I encourage others to explore that room. Of course, I usually ask about certain things in rooms when others share their spaces with me. After all, everyone has different opinions when it comes to private.

Hope this helps,

Perception of my art works submitted………..

Perception of my art works submitted………..