STUDIOS, THITHER AND YON
Over the years I have lived and worked in a variety of places, including a house overlooking the walking rocks on the Northern California coast, a basement built into a hillside of Topanga Canyon, a dim apartment in Florence, Italy, a bright studio on the coast of Liguria, and a big, sunny home studio in Taos, New Mexico.
While the locations and environments have been stunningly beautiful and the studios have ranged from spacious and luminous to what felt like a dark hovel built into a hill, I have done some good work in the least desirable of situations.
The most important element of a studio for me is light: natural light; at least full spectrum light. Florescent and LED lighting makes it very difficult for me to discern color, especially with subtle shades of blue and aqua.
Over the past several years I been spending months at a time in places I love in Europe. I've adapted my work to the studio conditions. Some of the studios were mine alone, others were shared spaces.
I found that the environment had a huge impact on my work. Adapting and responding to the changes took me in different directions, almost like short stories in a novel.
Going back a few years from the present, here are some of those studios.
This studio spacious and bright, and the morning light is beautiful. In the afternoon when the sun has moved, the color temperature is higher than I prefer. Because I use a lot of different blues in my paintings, I need light that is not too warm and not too cool. Artificial light -- especially light with discontinuous spectra -- makes it impossible to discern the different hues. I love morning light here.
In my most recent studio in Barcelona, the best light was in the morning through the glass doors. My paintings were abstract and inspired by the energy of Barcelona. I worked small. Most of my paintings were a maximum of 12"x12" on canvas and abstract (inspired by the vibrancy of Barcelona), except for a few small paintings that were a response to the arrival of spring and the Costa Brava.
In Berkeley, I started working in the clay studio in preparation for a stint I was about to do in the south of France. Afterwards I also rented a studio for painting. The working conditions in the clay studio were great.
The changing light through the skylight was challenging because it would cut paintings in half between light and shadow.
Spring in the south of France: it was difficult to think of anything but life busting out all over in a profusion of color and flowers: red poppies and new ones popping up every day. Bright daylight for hours.
My first studio in Barcelona: challenging light and confined spaces. I was attempting to translate some of my photographs into paintings. I worked a lot, but I was not very satisfied with the paintings.
The hills of Mt. Subasio outside of Assisi, Italy, were gorgeous. I was there in the fall with several artists. The days grew short and cold, and the light challenging.The few paintings I did were inspired by the lovely spirit of Assis, and I did a lot of still photography with the changing colors of fall.
SOUTH OF FRANCE
The south of France uncorks me. Our shared painting and ceramic studios demanded some coordination of our schedules, but the light, our village and the coast inspired me to create colorful, optimistic, joyful pieces. They continue to make me happy to this day.
I had my choice of two studios. I started with the one below. Because I was working with my canvases on the wall, the wall supports got in the way. I moved to the studio above. The landscape here in the Alentejo blew my mind and with it went all preconceptions of what I had intended to do. This is what set me on a three year journey into my focus on trees and the environment and the ramifications: survival, resilience and renaissance.