Creative spaces: artists in their studios

A year or so ago I decided to try and re-awaken my artistic side by taking life drawing classes, and in preparation, spent some time studying Lucian Freud‘s paintings. I fell in love with his honest, evocative portraits, so was very sad to hear yesterday that he’d died this week at the grand old age of 88.

The papers have been full of photographs of the artist and his work. The picture I find most poignant is this photo from 2005 showing Freud in his London studio, working through the night as he often did.

{Via Art In America Magazine}

Whenever there’s one of those Artist Open Studio events on nearby I always try and go. Partly because I’m interested in the work, but also because I love seeing where people work. The differences between each artist’s studio fascinate me. Some are a creative chaos of paint and canvas, while others have a surprising ordered calm.

Judging by this photo, Freud was one of the former – he’d never screw the tops back onto his paint tubes and would flick and swipe the caked-up paint onto the wall. Over 40 years, this created a kind of artwork in itself and even features in this ‘painting of a painting’ intriguingly named The Artist Surprised by a Naked Admirer.

I guess for a man described as having “at least 12 children”  this kind of thing happened a lot…

{The Artist Surprised by a Naked Admirer, Lucian Freud}

All this set me on a search of pictures of other artists’ studios. On the creative chaos scale, this one – Francis Bacon‘s – makes Freud’s mess pale into insignificance. The painting on the easel is thought to be the artist’s final work.

{Via The Tate Galleries}

Jackson Pollock‘s workspace is exactly what you’d expect from the master of the splatter.

{Via Nobodyintheartworld}

By contrast, these are surprisingly neat and ordered. Both belong to female artists, obviously!

{Via Inspiring Interiors}

American painter Georgia O’Keeffe‘s studio at The Ghost Ranch in New Mexico has been recreated just as it was in the 1940s. She was best known for her paintings of bones, rocks and flowers. “I thought the ranch would be good for me because nothing can grow here and I wouldn’t be able to use up my time gardening,” she said.

{Via The Tate Galleries}

Turner Prize Winner Rachel Whiteread‘s workspace looks more like a typical magazine’s art department that a studio. I suppose if you’re casting a Victorian house or making 14,000 giant sugar cubes, you probably would need a few work experience people around to give you a hand.

Even Marmite artist Tracey Emin‘s place is a lot neater than you might expect. Although it appears she’s taken the criticism she had over her infamous unmade bed to heart and opened some kind of launderette in the back room.

{Via The Guardian}

I’ll finish with another Brit favourite – Mr Sgt. Pepper himself, Peter Blake. A man after my own heart, Blake began collecting junk at the age of 14, to the point where he’s almost  hemmed in by his collection of curios in his London studio and has shifted some of his lovely tat to The Holburne in Bath, where it’s on display until 4th September 2011.

{Via The Independent}

{The Holburne Museum}

Vintage typewriter. Check. Dusty bell jar. Check. Rusty sign. Check. Hmmm. Perhaps I do have a career ahead of me as a top artist after all!

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  1. says

    What a great post. So interesting. I’m afraid if I were a great artist my space would probably belong to the chaos version as a flit between things. Oops.

    • Decorator's Notebook says

      Really pleased you enjoyed it! I think I’d be happiest in the minimal Georgia O’Keeffe studio. I’m a bit OCD about tidying so if I had a messy studio I’d be thinking about cleaning it all the time and have no head space to be creative!


  1. […] Not many of us ever get to visit an artist’s studio while they’re working.  So mostly we have an imaginary idea of what painters actually DO to get the results they get. But every now and then someone sneaks in or charms their way in and gives us a look.  Above is the great Lucien Freud hard at work late at night.  Found here. […]

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