5 Ways to Winterize Your Art Studio for Creativity and Comfort

When I first moved to Boston from the Midwest to go to graduate school, my mom was worried. The big bad city seemed like a very dangerous place to her, a suburban housewife from a small town. So I promised her I wouldn't go anywhere alone after dark.

sonia nast art studio
Sonia Nast's studio is white, light, and bright: perfect
for keeping spirits and energy up in winter.
(Studios magazine, Winter 2011)

Now, to begin with, that was a rather shaky promise, considering I knew almost no one in my new location. But I figured if I was going out on the town at night, it probably would be with new friends or a date.

What I didn't count on was the fact that from late October right through March, it gets dark here at 4:30 p.m. That meant that to fulfill my agreement with my mom, I'd need an escort home from my class that let out at 5 p.m.

Well, what Mom didn't know wouldn't hurt her, and fortunately I managed to live in the city for several years unscathed. But I'm still not used to the early darkness.

So when winter comes, I do everything I can to brighten things up around my home and especially in the studio, where on weeknights I never see daylight. Literally. I put away as much dark décor as I can and pull out my collection of milk glass and crystal bowls to reflect light while on display. I bring in white tulips for their crisp, unfussy freshness and declutter as much as I can, given that I'm a borderline hoarder.

Here are some of my "winterizing" tips you can use to make your studio more welcoming if your part of the world is cold and dark during the winter.

1. Let in the light. Take down any heavy window treatments to take advantage of every bit of daylight and warmth the sun provides. If you need privacy, hang sheer curtains or openwork lace curtains instead. If your room lacks light because of its location or the shorter days, invest in overhead and task lighting, particularly the kind that mimics daylight.

2. Warm it up. Your artwork and supplies probably provide some color, but in the winter you can always use more. Put up some colorful bunting; make window toppers out of bright fabrics; paint your work chair an eye-popping shade of orange, yellow, or pink. Hang some artwork given to you by friends and put up some new inspirational quotes.

jody daily art studio
Jody Daily's paint table area takes advantage
of the light and the warmth of a plant.
(Studios magazine, Winter 2011)

3. Create white space. I actually like some clutter, but all the clothes, blankets, boots, holiday décor, and general stuff winter brings gives me cabin fever. I like to spa-ify my rooms, including my studio, by paring down the knickknacks, lightening up the colors, and clearing the decks of the extra stuff that just doesn't belong. You know, the pile of art supply receipts you need to file (hey, it's tax season anyway), the leftover scraps from your last-minute gift projects, the outdated reminders of art shows gone by on the bulletin board.

4. Take good care. Winter means colds, dry air, and chapped hands (especially for artists who have their hands in water or work with paper a lot). I like to keep hand cream and lip balm next to every sink in the house. Bringing in a plant or two, or fresh flowers, gives the studio life and can improve air quality and dryness. It's also important to keep a refillable bottle of fresh water nearby and/or a thermos of hot tea or cider for hydration. And tissues and hand sanitizer aren't a bad idea, especially if you share a studio or have people coming in and out.

5. Consider moving. Not to California or Hawaii (though that might be nice), but to a different room in the house where there is better light or it's warmer. My studio, in an enclosed but un-insulated porch, has fabulous light and warmth during the day, but the second the sun goes down it's pitch dark and freezing. Consequently, I work in there on the weekends but weeknights I take handwork or small collage projects down to the family room where I can see better and stay warm.

Those are my tips. For more ideas about how to stay bright, warm, and creative through the winter, take a look at the Winter 2011 issue of Studios magazine.

P.S. How do you stay inspired and energetic during the dark days of winter? Share your studio tips below.




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