A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.Virginia Woolf
I wanted to devote todays blog post to living a creative life and how the addition of a drawing studio has given me joy. Living a creative life is a broad term and holds many meanings. The magic happens when (and how) it's interpreted; it's as unique as you are. A creative life can be as simple as a needle and some thread, devoted to a craft, and as complex as running a creative business. Somewhere in between are the dreamers, the hustlers, the night class goers, the you tube 'how to' watchers. There's no formula, no rules, it's up to you. Today I want to chat about how my creative live was recently enhanced with the addition of a room of my own - the drawing studio - I'll be sharing some tips if you're planning on enhancing your creative life with your own creative space.
Writer Virginia Woolf believed her creativity was dependent on a dedicated space. When she wrote about having a room of her own, a place to write, she felt it would fuel her creative life and give time away from the day-to-day to focus on her writing. Similarly, many well known businesses have started creative life in a garden room; Walt Disney, The Wright Brothers, Marie Curie, Dyson. Many individuals have found garden rooms to be essential; Roald Dhal, Mark Twain, Vic Reeves, Bill Oddie and Dylan Thomas. My favourite, and inspiration, remains Virginia Woolf and her well known writing room. Her idyllic room remains in the garden at Monks House in Sussex, over looking the Sussex downs, you can visit Monks House and view the room for yourself.
A Creative life is fluid
I've read a lot about the creative life being fluid, I've certainly found one of the challenges in a creative life to be accommodating the different needs. Thus far in my career, my creative life has been spent in factories, working studios, in a retail outlet that served as a studio and in a noisy shared art space. I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience of each of these working environments and haven't minded at all that most of my illustration work has shared a desk with mock up products, prototypes and actual orders. Nor have I minded about having to put my paints away and take them with me to the next place I'm likely to paint.
The fluidity of creative life has been hand in hand with creative growth and lately I've been craving a quiet place to get some burning creative ideas out on paper. Ideas I've carried for decades, it's taken a long time to reach the point where I can accommodate the need for a couple of quieter days each week. In the process I realised the last time I had complete solace to create was when I was a student at art college. I would work late into the night when everything was still and the people in my house-share were asleep.
Craving a quiet place made me realise our creative life really does change, it's never stagnant, ever growing and always evolving. Reading about Virginia Wolf's room of her own, as necessary in her own creative life, was a huge inspiration in the latest phase of my creative life.
Having a drawing room has long been a pipe dream of mine, and this year it happened.
This year my creative life pipe dream turned into reality. It began with a drawing, which in turn turned into the most precious and peaceful of spaces.
Here I am, typing this blog post from my drawing room, hello! If I feel the urge create in the stillness of the night I can creep down the stairs and into the garden. In fact, I can create at anytime of day and not have to worry about putting my paints and pencils away.
If you follow Chelsea Flower show you may have seen the winner of the best house plant category. Guess what? The people who made his room also made mine. Similarly mine is painted 'blackbird', my interior is whitewashed, including the floor, and this perfect space features greenery, plants and botanicals.
I love people - work colleagues, friends, family are important parts of my every day. Equally as important within my creative life is quiet time and quiet space. Particularly when I'm thinking about a new collection, or expanding a current collection. My drawing room is a relatively recent development to my creative life. It's a wonderful space and this week's blog is devoted to my drawing studio, 5 top tips if you are thinking about a garden room to enhance your creative life.
Welcome to my drawing studio. 5 top tips to help you create the perfect space in your creative life.
No. 1: Flowers.Flowers, flowers always flowers! I love flowers, they are one of my favourite things, unfortunately my cat Bali is allergic to blooms. One of the joys of this space is I can happily fill it with flowers without having to worry about her.
TIP: You don't have to buy lots of flowers each week, I have a combination of fresh, wild, silk and potted.
Best place for fresh flowers? Bloom and Wild's letterbox flowers are amazing. Visit Bloom and Wild
Plant your own! Packets of wild seeds sewn in autumn will reap armfuls of flowers come summer.
No. 2: Simplicity.
One of the ways I make my creative life joyous and uncomplicated is to follow the rule: Everything in here has to have a place. My paints are in drawers, my brushes too, I have a generous computer table, an analogue drawing table and a table for digital drawing too. It means I can work across any variety of medium without having to put anything away.
If something doesn't have a space, it can't stay. It means it's easy to work on several projects at once and not feel like I'm running out of space. It synergies my personal creative life
TIP: Unusual storage works best, cabinets are brilliant for storing lots of small items, plus you can put printers and other items on top.
Rattan racks are perfect for magazines. Desk tidy's, wall tidy's, racks all make for brilliant solutions.
Pinterest is your friend! Search for unusual storage solutions to find your style.
- The rule here is; if something doesn't have a space, it can't stay. It means it's easy to work on several projects at once and not feel like I'm running out of space.
No. 3: Details
What does a creative life look like to you? Part of my Wishlist revealed the importance of my own things, objects I've collected over the years. I've carefully curated everything in here and have used natural elements to compliment my whitewashed walls and greenery. My two favourite things have to be this all season wreath from The White Company (above) and my smiling man (below). I rescued him from the clutter of a little shop, he was stuffed behind lots of chipped antiques, I bought him home where he's been smiling ever since.
TIP: A creative life is all about you. Find your style and go with it. If you love botanicals you can grow your own, seeing plants growing is wonderful.
I can recommend this book: Shed Style for some inspiration. Selina Lake has many wonderful styling books to help you find your own unique style.
No. 4: Clear space, organised space
I'm a lover of clean lines and organisation, I can't do endless "stuff" and I like whitewashed walls. My shelves of sketch books, design albums are uncluttered, easy to get to and I've a little table just for having coffee, because a creative life does involve a lot of coffee!
TIP: My style is clear and uncluttered, yours may be different. I used to thrive on piles of papers, walls crammed with ideas. Now I need more space (I did say the creative life is fluid!) and less stuff. My tip is to be completely honest with what works for you and organise your space to accommodate. If you need some inspiration, hello Marie Kondo
No. 5: Make your own rules!
No shoes allowed. Pets welcome.
After years standing on concrete floors cluttered with the offcuts of manufacturing I wanted my drawing room to be comfortable and I have a basket of slippers by the door.
In my creative life shoes are not allowed. It gives the space a warm feel, where squishy carpets are enjoyed by all, even passing pets.
TIP: Make your rules to suit what works for you. It could be to always play jazz, always have a coffee pot on, always have a scented diffuser. This is, after all, your creative life.
What does the creative life mean to you? Take a moment to think about it. Let me know if my tips have helped you achieve your best creative life.
A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life and a hell of a lot more interesting life.Elizabeth Gilbert
I hope you've enjoyed a snapshot into my creative life. I cannot begin to tell you how having a dedicated space where I am able to go, draw, design, play, gives me life and joy. It could be a kitchen table, a nook under the stairs or the corner of your room. I'll leave you with a final quote, Maya Angelou said it best.
You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.Maya Angelou
See you next time!