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Ah, the studio.

I don’t know about you, but I’m of two minds when it comes to those magazines that showcase beautiful art studios. I love the magazines, I love “meeting” the artists and seeing how they work, but very often I find myself a little dejected at the end of it all. Now, I know beautiful studios exist. I know artists can have spare bedrooms, converted garages, renovated barns and what have you—and space, oh space!

That part I get…especially since I had a nice big room when I lived in a house in the US.

Now, though, we’re in an apartment in Amsterdam, a city famed for its tall, skinny buildings. While our apartment is new, it’s still relatively small—but I’m lucky in that we also have a garage of sorts in the back garden. (We’re also really lucky to have the outdoor space.) So my studio is in the back “garage” for lack of a better description—it’s a storage shed, really, perfect for stashing bicycles and seasonal clothing (we have one closet in the whole apartment). It’s about 5’ wide and maybe 15’ long, which is not a bad amount of space.

Sara Naumann blog studio outside

My bike shed/art studio.

I share this space with the seasonal clothes and the cat carrier, although I kicked out the bicycles and we stash those on the patio under the eves instead. I used to use the second bedroom as a studio, but moved out when Anna was born. At that time, I also weeded through a lot of stuff, recycling or tossing stuff.

So, now I’ve been in this space for about 6 months and found myself right back into that messy/disorganized situation.

I mean, look at it.

Sara Naumann blog studio

No matter how much room I have, I always end up working in about 12" of table space.

I think I have the hardest time with how pristine the spaces look in those magazines. Yes, I know they’re being photographed for a magazine, and yes, I’m sure the artists cleaned up…but every now and then I can’t help but wonder: Those studios with the plush beige carpet, the tidy white desk with nary a paint smudge or scratch, the antique armoire with perfectly organized contents…how often do these rooms really get used for making stuff? Is there a trade off between a beautiful working space, and the type of art you do? Despite my humble space (or maybe because of it) I’m very relaxed when it comes to working. I’m not worried about spilling paint on the concrete floor or getting a wayward spritz of dye on the Ikea table. There is a sort of freedom in having an imperfect space.

Last week I spent a lot of time working on class proposals (including projects) plus art pieces and a couple of contest entries, so I had paint, paper, glue, and bits and bobs floating around with some justification. Now, though, I’ve completed those things and it’s time to tidy up and reorganize in a big way.

Out I go—wish me luck!