Silence is rare when I’m working in the studio: I like to either have music or a podcast keeping me company. What I choose to play in the background always depends on a variety of factors: my mood, energy level, what I’m working on, the time of day, the weather, and probably other factors of which I am not aware.
The first decision I make is: will it be music or a podcast? I’ve noticed that I usually listen to music at the very beginning of a painting—when I am concentrating on the sketch and am making more conscious scale and drawing decisions—and at the very end of the painting process when I’m often adding finishing touches: intuitive highlights here and there, when the energy is high.
When I’m working away, in the flow of painting, I like to have comforting voices in the background. Looking through my favourite podcast list, I can divide my podcasts of choice into three main themes: Everything Art, Bigger Questions, and Self-Care. Because there are three categories of podcasts that I want to delve into respectively, I’m introducing the Studio Companion Series. I’ve selected two of my favourite podcasts from each theme to write about in separate blog posts. The podcasts and music I listen to are not “only” company; they help me think through process issues and they inspire me. Hopefully, they may also be a new discovery for someone reading! In this first blog post of the series, I’m focussing on the first category: Everything Art. After a brief introduction to the podcasts, I’ll share what I love and what I’ve learned from them.
Category 1: Everything Art.
I listen to this podcast when I am looking for comforting voices, a companion in the studio, when I need some inspiration or to question and perhaps re-think my long-held art-making beliefs. The Messy Studio Podcast is hosted by American abstract artist, Rebecca Crowell and her son, producer and entrepreneur, Ross Ticknor. In addition to interviewing fellow artists and others in the field, the mother and son team usually focus on one topic that’s interesting for artists. Some recent episodes have covered themes including challenges and risks, success, overworking, finding downtime, and abstracting your work.
What I love about the podcast is the combination of personal and professional rapport between Rebecca and Ross. I always come away with some new insight to mull over but it feels as comfortable and intimate as a discussion around the kitchen table.
What I’ve learned: Sometimes you listen to something at just the right moment. I was feeling frustrated with my latest painting, “Horizontal Sculptural Trees”, and worrying that I was “overworking it”. In episode 169, Rebecca and Ross discuss overworking and express that this is typically taught as something of which to be wary or downright afraid when it comes to art-making. This aligned with my idea of overworking an artwork and I was surprised that the pair questioned this negative connotation of the term. They discussed the notion of overworking in a balanced way, which did not ignore the real problems of continuing to work when frustration gets the better of us but, most helpfully, they talked about how continuing on through the rough patches is how we learn and grow as artists. I went back to my painting with curiosity instead of frustration and worked through the challenging areas in a way that I would not have had I let the fear of ruining it take too strong a hold.
I listen to this podcast when I’m thinking about marketing, how to connect with other artists, my process, or am looking for some general art inspiration. Art Juice is hosted by two UK-based abstract artists, Louise Fletcher and Alice Sheridan. The two artists discuss what they have been up to in the studio and the ins-and-outs of their respective art businesses. Topics like the importance of a subscribers list, social media engagement, and keeping up to date with new ways of connecting, for example, through online learning and live events, have been especially interesting for me.
What I love about the podcast is the conversation between the artists. They are willing to explore the many sides of one topic, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, but always curious and willing to share their views and experiences.
What I’ve learned from this podcast includes many practical tips about selling art online. One important take away from listening to multiple episodes of this podcast is the encouragement to strategize about clear and consistent communication through online channels. In addition, the most recent episode, featuring artist Lewis Noble, discusses the topic of abstracting from landscape. Although my works are stylistically a combination of impressionistic and expressionistic representational landscapes, I found it incredibly useful to hear about the methods of abstracting from landscapes in this episode.
A common element of both podcasts is that they are hosted by abstract artists, all three of whom are inspired by the landscape. As Rebecca Crowell pointed out in conversation on their podcast: all art is an abstraction. This is both seemingly simple and yet foundational to remember. Whatever an artist’s style, artists make ideas, objects, and scenes into something different from that object in the world or the initial inspiration for a work. Listening to abstract artists talk about their work has encouraged me to push my own style boundaries and trust my own intuition in the painting process. I’m glad to have come across both podcasts and highly recommend them!
The Studio Companion Series continues: the Bigger Questions and Self Care categories will be the topics of upcoming posts, as well as the music that gets me started in my studio practice and brings my work across the finish line–stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
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