One More Day of Studio Play

Yeah, I used that title because of the way it sounds. Pathetic, I know, but, hey! When you’re thinking about “play” all day long, you start hearing rhymes everywhere. I am having so much fun hearing from artists about how they play in the studio, how they played as kids, how they play when they’re *not* in the studio. I’m getting ideas for things I want to explore and talk about with people, and it’s just The Best. I hope you’re enjoying it, too. Monday and Wednesday I had two rough groups of comments: on Monday we heard mostly from those who say everything they do in the studio is play, and on Wednesday, from those who like to move back and forth between/among multiple projects. Today we’re going to share some of the other responses, those that are, perhaps, idiosyncratic (but I’m guessing not: I’m guessing that no matter how singular someone’s habits and processes seem, there’s someone else out there going, “OMG! I do that exact same thing! And I’m wearing my purple bunny slippers then, too!”)

Terri wrote, “When I am playing, I am experimenting with a new product or different medium. I am not worried about how it turns out but looking to see the effects, textures, or how I can incorporate into what I already do or expand what I am doing with a new product line I can create,” and then she added, “Right now I am playing with a glass kiln that I brought. It is a fun growing experiment that will pay for itself after a couple of tweaks. I was curious about glass fusion, so I am trying it out. I also wanted some products or art to sell that was less expensive than a painting or etching. It is fun and hopefully fills a market while giving me more income and more fun in my life.” For a lot of us, buying a new tool and jumping into something brand new is way beyond scary, but think about it: some of the best childhood play is pretty scary, too, like the stuff your parents didn’t know you were doing, stuff that usually involved leaping off stuff or trying to blow stuff up.

Cody says, “Yes, I do play as part of my studio time. For many years I made art dolls. They would talk to me to let me know who they were and what their story was. Sometimes at shows people would jokingly ask if the dolls talked to me. Of course they do, I would reply. Got lots of weird looks. Now as I transition into photography as my main medium, I use dolls and toys as my subjects. Play is a part of my process to flesh out the stories I create. The line between work and play is often quite fuzzy if not non-existent.”


Lou says, “I used to have a very high stress job as an RN in intensive care and had to have a creative outlet when not working. I found that usually the first project I worked on was just a release of pent up feelings; the second project would be much better. Now that I am retired, I continue this creative process in my studio by always working (now playing!) with at least two projects at once. I get an idea by going through my pile of ephemera and adding paints on hand. The ‘idea’ starts to form from these elements and I always try to tell a story or express a feeling in the resulting piece.” Marcie says,  “I change it up a bit…for example, if I am working on a realistic style portrait, after a while, I feel like just need to take a break from doing that style of work…so I have been known to just tell myself that I will use only whatever paint is left on my palette to do a complete new painting in 30 minutes. Some of my very favorite paintings have been painted like this.. Setting limits on myself like this kind of frees me up”


And finally, this comment from Peg that I love: “If/when I switch from work to play in the studio- its because i HAVE to play- it becomes an itch in brain that I cant scratch- without reaching into play to do it. Like most others- play in the studio- is all about exploring- often serendipity- by what may be at arms reach-added to something across the room- then back again- I loose all track of time during this play distraction call I must answer. Its like a time warp for me. The process of play has often turned into the work- that become income. The lines diverge then separate….with out my control. I listen to the muse as often as I can. In times of great discovery- it does regenerate- relax- etc though none of this is a conscious effort.”


I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion as much as I have. Next I’m going to start sharing some concrete suggestions for bringing more play into our lives *and* our studios because I’ve realized that I really don’t play that much, and that’s just sad. See you next week!
Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.

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