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IMG_0468There are many ways to build the perfect space for your creativity. You can be as outrageous and expensive or low-key and free as you want to be. Now, I would absolutely love to have a window filled loft in a beautiful historical building where I could people watch from multiple stories above the streets while processing my inspirations and the plans for the evenings open studio party….. Alas, we can’t all have that. But we can have a space surrounded by the well used objects of our trade and the works that inspire us to create with our favorite background music playing as loud or soft as the mood calls for, maybe a beloved pet snoozing in approval as we put the finishing touches on our latest masterpiece.

I have a list of requirements for my studio (currently a small bedroom recently vacated by an adult child) that I can not live without. I find that as long as I can maintain these 5 things I can manage without the unbelievable loft. 

1. Surround yourself with inspiration.

Obsession (2)
Sticks & Stones “Obsession” original artwork by Julie Coats

You may be working at the kitchen table or in the corner of your living room. Or you may have the luxury of a dedicated space. Whatever the case may be, keep your inspiration near.

There was a time when one of my children moved back home with an uncertain future. Of course I gave up my studio space so that she could have some privacy and a room of her own. Which relegated me to the dining room. At the time I was working on a series of paintings for the City Hall Gallery and needed to maintain my creative pace. The series was “Sticks & Stones”, watercolors representing my and my husbands love for rock hounding and some of the beautiful rocks we had found. So when I moved my works and supplies to the dining room I also brought a jar of some of those agates we had found and polished to keep me company and remind me of what I was working towards.


2. Stay organized.

If you are anything like me you have multiple projects going at the same time. Mine are usually different media as well. I may be working on a series of oil paintings while designing silk scarves, writing crochet patterns, painting watercolor greeting cards and an acrylic painting for a relative or friends upcoming birthday. Before I begin work on a different project I put away everything pertaining to the previous work. Brushes are cleaned and conditioned; palettes wrapped and put away; paints, inks, pens, pencils, etc. all put in the appropriate place.

Believe me, you do not want to get sidetracked when you have a deadline to meet. Do yourself a favor and set up a method for keeping the tools you are not using and the projects you are not working on put away. Out of site, out of mind. I use rolling carts with drawers to store all of my different types of paints and only pull that drawer out when that is what I’m using. I also store all other tools in labeled photo boxes in the closet. Easy to get to when I need them but not cluttering up my workspace.

pexels-photo-3130933. Set the mood.

I like to listen to music while I paint. Frequently that is classical music played at a high volume. Or Ed Sheeran. Or Nick Cave and the Badseeds. Or…. Well you get the idea. It could be anything that I feel like hearing. When I had to share the dining room I would just pop in some ear buds so that I wouldn’t drown out the television viewers in the next room. (Though that didn’t stop me from singing along and causing gales of laughter from the other room) I also enjoy aromatherapy. You can use your Scentsy burner, incense, candles, stimulate your senses to tune your creativity.

4. Do not disturb.

I love having my dogs hang out with me when I paint. They bring an added level of joy and happiness to my creative space. But there are times when playtime was not enough and they can’t settle down. When I’ve made sure that all of their needs have been met and they are still as rambunctious as ever there comes a time when I just have to close the door and let my husband keep them company. There are also times when I enjoy visitors while I’m working and the conversation is constructive and enlightening, but there are times when I just need to be left to my own devices to do what I will and stop when I may.

Don’t be afraid to claim your workspace as your own. Ear buds in, candles burning, and a t-shirt that says “leave me alone” can be just as effective as a closed door.

5. Tools of the trade.

I have a confession to make. I have a paint brush fetish and even when they are hardly usable any longer I just can’t bear to part with them. I learn from each one of them as we age together, we build a partnership over time and I know exactly what to expect. Each beloved brush stays with me. I have jars and vases and mugs filled with all of my favorites. I keep a vase (given to me years ago filled with flowers by one of the children for mother’s day) that I put the brushes I am currently working with in. All of the others are in containers labeled for the paint they will be used with. Those brush receptacles are everywhere! If I tried to narrow down the collection my space would feel empty and I would be lonely.


Your list may be shorter, or maybe longer than mine. Maybe your list includes that fabulous warehouse loft. As long as I have the things listed above and an idea I think I’ll manage. Please share your workspace in the comments, I would love to see how you master your creative spaces.


Your comments and feedback are appreciated!

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