In the studio . . .


There are studio days that are incredibly productive. Correspondence is answered, artwork is shipped, pieces are finished and at the end of the day the studio is tidy. Then there are days like this past Monday . . . where I take two steps forward and four steps back – little is accomplished, the studio’s in chaos and I bounce around from idea-to-idea, leaving half finished projects in my wake.

I’m often asked “How long did it take you to make this piece?” Frankly, it’s the one question I really hate and giving an accurate answer always stymies me. Funny, huh, since it’s the actual process of “making” that fuels my creative soul. Does the person want to know all the little picky time-consuming details? (How many times I gessoed and sanded a birch panel, how I scraped away images, beeswax and oil pastels ’cause the work just isn’t “getting there”? How I can only feed one sheet at a time of Sumi rice paper into the printer because it’s temperamental and chews up the paper?) I think not. I wonder if the questioner is asking for “time = difficulty of process” or “time = years I’ve been creating art” or last, but usually not least, “time = money per hour” information.

On days like yesterday when asked the “how long” question, I feel like tearing my hair out and yelling “I have absolutely no idea!”


This is my third Portland studio in as many years, and by far the largest and most unusual. I occupy the 2nd floor sunporch of a former 4-plex apartment building,  built in the 1920’s, which also is home to therapists and counselors. No one else was interested in the space and for me it’s perfect.


Even on my least productive days, time spent in this studio is the best! Favorite tools live there, the north light is perfect, my collections clutter the windowsills and books and materials overflow the shelves. I’m close to good coffee and the activity outside my windows gives me visual breaks when moving forward just isn’t happening.

While I strive for good work days, inspiration and a sense of completion; it all comes down to one simple fact: I love my studio – it’s where I’m most at home. I’m fairly certain that most artists feel this way and cherish the time spent making. What’s your studio space like? I’d love to hear about your “creative home.”



Stuff I have / Stuff I create

As I begin to move my studio, I am overwhelmed with all the stuff I’ve collected. Three years here and the shelves are bulging. Some items are overage from various client projects. Often it’s cheaper to purchase 100 boxes wholesale even if I only need 60 . . . and who knows, there might be a future invitation that needs that exact box.

Art materials / media come in so many forms and inspiration arrives from various sources – books, photos, found objects and more. Even the juxtaposition of items on a shelf can trigger a new idea. Books arranged by color and size (courtesy of  my niece Hanna) create interesting visual patterns.

Paper – I LOVE it. It’s truly amazing what artisans worldwide are creating. The dotted magenta paper’s waxy smell reminds me of Indonesian batik fabric.

My daughter’s hand imprint is stitched on a pin cushion. This late 19th century Japanese sewing box is a new treasure and knowing that another woman used it for her supplies makes me feel connected to the past.

Tape guns, e-xacto knives, calculators, colored pencils, ink jet printers and scissors – couldn’t do my work without them!

Another addiction – ribbon – used in custom jobs and my own artwork.

Natural elements, papers, ribbons and studio ephemera come together in finished gifts for a client’s party.

These paper prayer flags were created using leftovers from several jobs. The calligraphy scraps were salvaged from a friend’s trash! Once again the prompt from 52 photos project – Elements – is the inspiration for this post.

P.S.  I will be having a studio sale in mid September . . . my trash can become your treasure! Stay tuned . . .