Deep Thought Thursday: Circumstances and location

How much affect do circumstances and location have on the type of art you make and they way in which you make it?

For instance, your circumstances . . .

No studio? Do you have to make work smaller?

No bank account? Can't afford bronze casting?

And what about location? Does where you live influence the type of art you make or subject matter you use? To what extent?

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17 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: Circumstances and location”

  1. Michael Lynn Adams

    I love this quote by artist and odd fellow, Albert Pinkham Ryder (American 1847-1917): “The artist needs but a roof, a crust of bread, and his easel, and all the rest God gives him in abundance.” It is a beautifully romantic idea. I need a bit more than a roof and a crust of bread, though. A real surprise happened to me when, in 2001, we moved into an new home. Oddly enough, my work was transformed by our new kitchen. I had never thought of myself as a still life or floral painter until I moved into this house with a great kitchen. It has tall ceilings and a spot light over an island topped with black granite. That light was a revelation. The drama of the light and the color of food, wine and flowers under it are amazing. I never tire of experimenting with new objects under that light. My kitchen is also my alternate studio. My real studio is in a corner of my garage. Maybe I am closer in spirit to Albert Ryder than I thought. – There is more about my studio and kitchen on my Web site.

  2. my work is massively affected by my circumstances, time of day or night, my mood, even the music I play has a part in shaping my painting, but the biggest circumstance I have is working around my disability. my techniques have been changed for fast ones that allow me to work in short bursts, the size of the piece is affected my how bad I am feeling and my range of motion, things of that nature. since getting my own studio space my work has improved so much, being able to focus in a space that’s all mine with wonderful light, set out just right for my needs is just wonderful. it’s only a room in my house but it’s my lifeline.

  3. I used to have a huge beautiful studio. The effect of which were big works. “OoH’s and Aah’s” when peple walked and sales> when i moved to a smaller studio, I made smaller work, made smaller impact and got less sales. What I plan to do now is to make big work in my small studio, and ship it to the gallery one at the time, and have a show to get the ooh’s and aahs… the point: create the circumstance.

  4. I live in an environment where birds, boats and barns were the only art around (and water colors – lots and lots of water colors) when I got here. Am happy to say we’ve diversified and I’ve had a big hand in that. And must admit that I dash off a quick blue heron when I need some extra cash. It’s a joke with my artist friends!

  5. I have had both large and small studio spaces. Never a room actually built as a studio, but one I have reserved as “my space” for creating. Right now “my space” has spread to the entire house much to my husband’s dismay and need for order. So I would have to say that my studio is wherever I am at the moment with art supplies and ideas on hand. What affects me more is my mood and energy levels which unfortunately swing from one extreme to the other at times. I have been reading a lot lately about how clutter and disorganization affect you so maybe getting a studio large enough and dedicating it to my work would make be produce more often. (Another big challenge as I still have to have a alternate job to pay the bills, which is probably another obstacle since it is also a creative job and drains my brain every day, but that is another story.) Environment does play a part in creativity mainly because of the local market. But I try not to get wrapped up in making art for someone else since that is what I do to earn money (graphic design) while I am trying to transition to my real job (painting & mixed media). And of course, money always plays a part. Having become accustomed to a rather nice lifestyle, letting go of the perks is really quite frightening. It is a huge catch 22. And very frustrating, as all I really want to do is paint, read and just enjoy the beautiful world around me.

  6. Those are great questions. For myself I would have to say that where I am does influence my painting. I moved from the coast of Nova Scotia to Alabama and am still trying to adjust. I get back to Nova Scotia a couple times a year and do alot of sketching and photography there, which gives me material for my painting down here. My studio is a small bedroom in the house, which at times is claustraphobic. It’s my painting and writing space. I’ve had one solo show down here and was impressed by people’s positive response to my Nova Scotia paintings. I guess here in Alabama I feel a bit like an exile and haven’t got into painting anything around here. I don’t know if that will ever change. But I keep painting.

  7. Sue Favinger Smith

    I think we do have to pay attention to certain external circumstances. For instance, new houses in our area feature huge windows and narrow wall spaces, which limits the size of art a homeowner can display. So consequently I have started to paint smaller. A friend of mine just came back from the southwest, where she said the walls were huge and the windows small, requiring larger format artwork, and that was what primarily dominated in the galleries. I am also influenced by what a gallery owner is willing to take and what buyers they are attracting. If it’s tourists — small, affordable landscapes. New “loft” and transplanted “urban” buyers want small, contemporary work. But I think the biggest “circumstance” I’ve had to deal with is understanding the real art world and not my “fantasy” art world.

  8. Oh my gosh!! I could speak for days on all these issues. First: Studio I have a great LITTLE studio. I love it. However, I feel the limitations. I do make smaller work because I can’t spread out. Also, I have to consider where I would store larger works once finished. I stopped doing 3-D work because I had no place to store them. I feel sad about that. Second: I do have a bank account. I do have art supplies. I don’t have a problem affording to make the art. I do have monetary considerations after the art is made. It costs so much money to be in shows and to ship work. There is a point when you have to ask “Is it worth it?” Third: LOCATION Oh boy…This is a real tricky one for me. I LOVE where I live now (Florida). However, I don’t feel like I fit in (artistically) at all. I have friends up north and they send me videos and news of what is happening up there. Even though I don’t want to believe it or MOVE back home, my sensibility belongs up there, not down here. Even the videos of gallery openings up north make me realize I am in the wrong place. I feel like I am in a foreign country or something. I just don’t know how to resolve these issues except to do the work I can fit in my studio, afford to ship, and attend to showing my work in places it is accepted (northern America?). YIKES!! I feel like am going to hyperventilate! In summary, I just want to be the artist I am regardless. 🙂 Sheree

  9. I have a couple broader ways location did influence me. When I started out selling I made a very difficult decision to stay in London and rent, though I had the opportunity to buy a house outright up in Scotland. But an artist starting out I saw the need to be in London with the studios, networking, juried competitions, art fairs, and just all sort of connections. I don’t think I was wrong and have fortunately hit the point where I can realise I now no longer need to be here – I have working practices, networks, and experience packing and shipping my work now so that I know in my heart I could do it somewhere more remote. But from a practice and experience viewpoint I don’t think I’d be where I am if I’d started my business somewhere else. (Financial is another story, haha!) As for the work itself something said to me, which I didn’t realise at the time, was that my paintings have a very “English” (very blue grey) light to them. So I guess where I am is influencing the work in a more subtle way that I didn’t even realise. 🙂 I think where we live and our cultural backgrounds influence our styles and subject matter in ways we may not realise. I’m aware of ways in which my working and paintings differ from other British abstract and landscape artists because of my American values and perceptions. It’s a bit weird! The financial/small studio issues I think are something I’ve overcome to an extent. Staying in London was and still is the big blow to financial security (highest cost of living city in Europe). Having had an external studio before I liked working bigger so I just make it fit into my tiny room now. 🙂 I’m grateful I have a studio and just make the most of it. I had to give up my studio elsewhere a couple years ago but thanks to the generosity of a friend now have a space at home (because he was willing to share the house unequally and split the rent according to our relative incomes, rather than the space) Never undervalue supportive family and friends!

  10. Being on the coast of Portugal this weekend really inspired me. I came here to be by water, from which I draw inspiration. Not only have I gotten insights into my life and my creativity, spending time alone in a remote village helped me to hash out some new ideas for my novel. I’m traveling for six months (almost five now!) and the plan is to make more visual art. I’m doing that in an illustrated journal and I have to say that these circumstances have given me more inspiration, time and space to create than when I am at home. Thanks for the great question!

  11. There is no question that circumstance (location) affects my work. Even though I do not consider myself a landscape painter (abstract!), I have watched my work go through complete transformations every time my husband and I move to a new location. (Which we have found ourselves doing frequently, in the last 8 years.) The influences of different light, flora and fauna all seem to enter into the work in such an incredible, subconscious way! For other artists who have commented about a new place and feeling like your work (or you) don’t “fit in”, my suggestion is to have patience, as it will take time to adjust to new surroundings and new art communities. This is your chance for a new beginning! Take it from someone who is becoming a pro at new environments! Best wishes and happy creating.

  12. hmm, I’ve been thinking more and more that my location affects things as well. If I were living in America I would have more opportunities for collaboration, artist groups and galleries. I could attend the conferences I get invites for and actually listen to the teleconferences at the time (mp3s work but they aren’t the same). I could open my studio and work and talk with so many of the nice people I meet online. most of my shows are based in the States and I never get to see them. Australia has an excellent art scene but it is either very low end or very high end- and to get to the high end every successful Australian Artist has had to do most of their work overseas.

  13. Before I moved back to PA I was living in an apartment and couldn’t set -up a studio where I would be hammering and using a torch. This forced me to find other means and I ended up auditing at the local community college so that I could use their studio. This gave me the opportunity to be around other metalsmiths and I was able to ease into making my art after college. Then when I moved up here, I didn’t have a studio for a little over a year while I converted our garage. Since then, I’ve really produced a lot and with much more enthusiasm. I feel that having my own studio at home has pushed me to work on my pieces more often and to take the quality of my work to the next level. My work looked better compared to the beginners’ when I was auditing the class, but now I have to compete with myself and other profesional when I am selling my art, so this pushes me a bit more technique-wise.

  14. Leslie Beauregard

    I’m one of those artists who cannot afford a studio yet. I have tried carving out a private place in my house, but it never worked for me. I paint in the corner of my family room, with two small tables and my easel. I’m an illustrator for children’s books, and being around my kids really has helped my work. They are my most joyful and critical audience. I get to be them and paint! A two for one! Not for most, but it works for me.

  15. Leslie Beauregard

    I’m one of those artists who cannot afford a studio yet. I have tried carving out a private place in my house, but it never worked for me. I paint in the corner of my family room, with two small tables and my easel. I’m an illustrator for children’s books, and being around my kids really has helped my work. They are my most joyful and critical audience. I get to be them and paint! A two for one! Not for most, but it works for me.

  16. My husband and I live in our 12 foot trailer (yep – it’s tiny) as camp hosts in a California State Beach park. I paint in oil and when we made this lifestyle choice I was panicked about how I would manage my multiple oil paintings as we have no indoor space, and they take so long to dry, and I like to work in series of 8-10 at a time…I have always preferred to paint pretty large but am now working in a 12×12 format which I store in the woodshed in pizza boxes! It’s weird but I am creating quite a stir whenever I show up at a class or show ingathering with my tall stack of pizza boxes!! It’s worked out pretty well, actually, and everyone knows me and comments when I show up, especially around lunchtime…

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