Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Etiquette of a Studio Visit

Laura Moriarty holding a chunk of wax

Laura Moriarty's new work

Last January (09) I had on my agenda to get myself out of my studio and into other artist's studios. So I slowly began to do some local studio visits. Now, a year later, I am working on a presentation for the Fourth Annual Encaustic Painting Conference in June at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass.
It is called the:

Encaustic Studio
A digital look into artists' studios from around the country. We will be “visiting” artists in their studios and viewing their set up, ventilation, tools, storage, shipping, their creative process and, of course, their work. The next best thing to an actual studio visit!

I have done several studio visits so far with more to come.
In the process, I am learning the etiquette of a studio visit.
It is an interesting dance.

Marybeth Rothman at her thinking desk

MaryBeth Rothman's work on the wall: encaustic /mixed media

My "working" list of Do's and Don'ts:


Talk about yourself, your work,etc. (at least not too much)
If you don't know what to say, be honest and say you will think about the work and respond later.
If you are not in the mood, don't appreciate the person's work, or aren't interested. Don't go in!!
When you walk in to a person's space filled with their art and say nothing; that says everything and it's not pretty.
plan to look and listen.
spend time.
drink tea (or something).
ask questions.
look at everything, the walls, the drawers, the floor, the work: all are clues to the artist's world.
leave yourself at the door and step into the artist's shoes.

Be sure to check out Joanne Mattera's blog for a great studio visit post.

Pam Farrell's studio wall and floor

Pam Farrell new work : oil on canvas


Binnie said...

you must be having so much fun seeing everyone's studio. I love Laura's new work and intend to include it at my conference presentation. Pam's work..and floor look luscious!

lisa said...

HI Binnie,
It is great fun-and learning so much!!

Pamela Farrell said...

Well thanks, Lisa!

I do enjoy our studio visits, and as I have said to you before, "You give good studio."

I appreciate the do's and don'ts of studio visits...I especially like the idea of leaving yourself at the door. (It's what I do in my psychotherapy practice, because the focus is on the client.) But sometimes when going into an artist's studio, the part of my brain that starts firing off ideas gets excited and stimulated by the sight of art, paint, materials, space, etc. It's a good reminder for my ADD brain to leave my "self" at the door.

I'd like to add one other do for visitors...if you're cold, or hot, or thirsty or need a bathroom or whatever, it's a good idea to speak up and attend to needs that if unmet might interfere with the visit and appreciation of the work. At least it's a "DO" in my studio.

lisa said...

Hi Pam,
That is a good addition to the list.

Bring a camera,too!

I love that shot of your wall and floor......all things flow

Nancy Natale said...

A great post, Lisa. I like your list of recommended behaviors. Those shots of Laura's work are great. And I love Pam's studio wall/floor plus the green painting that looks as fresh as an unfurled leaf in spring - so much better than white.

kate miller said...

Great advice, thoughtful and common sense. Good to read and think about. It must be a blast seeing everyone's studio, Id love to do that. Love your pictures too. Read that you are presenting at NEC, congratulations, you deserve it!

Paul Behnke said...

Good advice!

Anonymous said...

You sound like such a good studio visitor. That floor and wall are wonderful huh?

Ann Brauer said...

I loved seeing the different studios. My quilt studio is routinely open to the public in Shelburne Falls. Sometimes I am working hard--sometimes I am not. I do try to be welcoming to all.

The one other point I would add is to feel free to ask questions--I enjoy learning from others what they are thinking about my work.

Anonymous said...

Artists visiting other artists are generally respectful and understand most of the etiquette, but sometimes non-artists do not. I remember doing open studios in a studio building in Oakland (CA) and many of the visitors said nothing about the work and asked about the loft space (granted, it was magnificent space, but still...). It is really insulting to have some Yuppie visualizing their $3,000 designer leather couch in your space or asking you what you pay for utilities. Ugh!


Ann Tracy, Maine's Digital Alchemist & Artist said...

thanks for posting this very good piece... I especially like your advise about saying nothing, you're right it speaks loudly!

Stephanie Clayton said...

Excellent advice. I envy your studio visits! It's hard where I live...few artists, virtually none have a true workspaces.

One thing that interests me is seeing how the work flows, and the evidences left behind after completion- check out Pam Farrell's wall and floor, for example! That speaks volumes about her process. Inspiration boards (and Marybeth Rothman's "thinking desk") say much about creative input and development of ideas.

Nkoli said...

Very nice and well said. Best bit is 'leave yourself at the door and step into the artist's shoes'. Will bear that in mind.