In the early years, OS found me cleaning and prepping my space to welcome visitors-adding food, wine and flowers, just like having company at home. I would also dress up a little bit and then sit and wait for people to come. Book in my lap, I tried to look casual and relaxed though I felt a bit nervous. Conversation was usually fairly easy-discussing various paintings but it sometimes felt a little bit awkward. How much can one talk about their work without feeling it’s a one way conversation? In between visitors, it was downright boring to just sit there. With everything so neatly put away, I couldn’t even get any work done.
After awhile I realized that the time would go by more quickly, and would take the pressure off anyone stopping in, if I was working on something. My materials are now front and center on the work table and I spend the evening doing demos. Perhaps it took years of painting to feel confident enough to work in front of people. Questions are more spontaneous and (mostly) easily answered because I feel comfortable with my process. People enjoy seeing how a painting is begun, even if it isn’t carried through to the end. The finished paintings on the walls are evidence that work does, indeed, get finished. The interaction is more balanced and certainly more relaxed.
The studio still gets cleaned once a month but not so very carefully. Visitors like seeing the real deal. In our studio, one can watch my demos using watercolor on yupo as well as experience my studio mates’ encaustic techniques or drawing and oil painting processes. People wander from one corner to another of our 3-person studio and seem to linger a bit longer than they used to. Time flies and a good kind of exhaustion sets in by night’s end.
Now, when I visit an artist in their studio or at a fair, I think about how much richer the experience would be for them and for their visitors if they actively shared how they make their art. Too often, the artist is sitting on a stool in the back of the booth, with the afore mentioned book-which I find a bit unwelcoming, though I know from experience that is not likely the impression they are aiming for. Art should be enjoyed and celebrated! So do come visit. We look forward to showing you our process, right in our (sometimes) messy studio and having some down to earth conversations about art.