Last week, two of my students were discussing a website which features the studios / offices / workshops and desks of various creative people. I am always fascinated to see other artist’s studios and sketchbooks. It gives me a real feel for their personality, and helps me to understand how they work. More often than not, it also inspires me to try something different – either in my approach to my work, or in the organisation of my space. The website got us thinking about our own workspaces, and what they might reveal about us. Soon enough, we were all sharing photos of our desk tops and discussing what they might say about each of us – chaotic? organised? elegant? a perfectionist? homely? clinical? creative? scatter-brained? daydreamy? methodical?
Our discussion gave me the idea for this blog post.
I have photographed various corners of my studio, and thought it might be an interesting idea to describe what goes on in each area (not that it’s that big!) I’ll leave you all to decide for yourselves what it reveals about me, and how I like to work! Here goes…
So… in the photo above we have my desk and shelves – this is where most of my work takes place. I purposefully bought a desk with quite a long worktop because I’m often working on several projects at the same time. I am currently dividing my working week (often weekends too!) between being a PhD student, teaching art classes and illustrating a children’s book. In one day I can flip between planning lessons and designing worksheets for my students, to working on the cover art for the book that I’m illustrating, to reading and taking notes on Al-Ghazali as part of my PhD research. Having plenty of space just makes it easier to have many things on the go at one time. A lot of my work is very tiny and delicate, so good lighting is important, hence the desk lamp and position by the window. I also have daylight simulation bulbs in my lights – great for these short winter days when it gets dark at 4pm!
I try to keep my desk pretty neat because it helps me to think clearly and be more efficient. However, it can get chaotic at times, but I don’t mind that too much. Usually when that happens it’s because I’m experimenting with lots of different ideas, and that’s a positive thing. I’ll always tidy it again afterwards. As you can probably tell from my palettes, I love colour! I also love my tea… especially when it’s in a pretty cup!
My drawing board is a space for working on larger pieces of artwork. At the moment, it’s home to a geometric painting that I’m working on as part of my PhD research. It’s also by a window so that I can gain from the good light. Behind it is a shelf full of various painting and drawing equipment.
I am planning on writing a blog post about this work-in-progress at a later date. I’ve used hot-pressed watercolour paper (Fabriano, I think?) and I’ve put a tea-stain over the top – see, told you I like my tea! I’ve made several attempts at constructing the geometry until I got more and more accurate. This is a ten-fold pattern, and it’s very tricky! I haven’t decided on a colour palette just yet, but I’m going to enjoy a bit of experimentation as soon as I get the chance. I’ll let you know how it goes.
And finally… this is what you would see when entering my studio. The painting is called “Doorway to Paradise’ and is inspired by a set of ceramic tiles that caught my eye in an Ottoman mosque in Cairo. It’s actually from a “mihrab” (meaning “prayer niche” in Arabic). The “mihrab” is a decorated panel found in the wall of a mosque, which indicates the direction of prayer. Co-incidentally, the way it is aligned in my studio also indicates the direction of prayer (“qibla”). So when I’m praying in my studio, I pray directly in front of it. It is my hope that the peace from my prayer radiates into the artwork I’m creating, bringing some peace and beauty into the lives of others.