Studio Divas

And we mean “divas” in the very, very best way. While studio assistants and apprentices and minions are all fabulous, there’s nothing quite like a Studio Diva of the animal variety. Or bird variety. Or–eeek!–snake variety.

I love seeing photos of people’s studio companions. For years, my cat Maxwell was my constant companion–there was a shallow drawer on the right side of my desk where I kept all my inkpads, and I covered those with a towel and that was where he stayed, all day every day. I still miss him, but these days I have three cats who believe the office and studio are theirs and that I am just someone who comes in to open and shut windows and find things that have rolled under furniture.


So the other night someone on Facebook mentioned studio pets–it might even have been me; I don’t remember–and I thought it would be way fun to see what other people’s animals do when they’re hanging out, supervising.


First we have Zoe Nelson’s Quality Control Expert, Lola. Zoe says, “She was a showgirl… With yellow ribbons in her hair and a dress cut down to there! Barry Manilow made her famous, and of course, whatever she wants, she gets.”

Studio pets


Then we have Carin Winkelman’s cat Peer (pronounced “Pair”; he’s Dutch, of course), and Carin says, “He can usually be found near or on top of my work. After a while things will settle down and he will find a spot between art materials and just crash there, but the moment I get up he will immediately either take my place or lay right on top of whatever I’m doing as if he’s already been there for hours and there could not possibly be a better place to be.”



Peer on the job

Here’s Monet, Vanessa Johanning’s Parolette, a miniature parrot. She says he’s “quite the bird,” and here he’s supervising her painting of his gorgeousness:


Here’s Laurie O’Neill’s cat at two different ages: “This is my little Squirt with my table loom when he was a feral kitten and just beginning to feel comfortable exploring in the house. The larger one is when Squirt grew up and decided that my hand needed a little kissing as I wove on my inkle loom.”

Baby Squirt

All-grown-up Squirt

There’s Ollie girl, Linda Berman’s “kiln keeper”

Ollie girl, The Kiln Keeper

And Miss Emmylou, who takes care of fabric for Cathy Mendola:

studio pets

Miss Emmylou

Miss Emmylou. “Sheer fabrics and tulles are her favorites.”

Then there’s Blueberry, Carol Swallowcliff’s helper:


And Lucca, who runs the studio of Cheryl Razmus, who explains the poses: “Under the ironing board in the box of pennant felt from Alabama Chanin…”

Lucca and felt

” Under the glass top table where I was working…”

Lucca under the table

“Deciding he needed that chair while I was trying to photograph a piece in progress…”

Lucca owns the chair

“On a box of stuff in the craft room…”

Lucca on a box

(and my personal favorite)

“In a box of stuff in the sewing room…”

studio pets

Lucca in a box (and what a grin!)

And last but most certainly not least, Zom Osborne’s uninvited studio companion, Pythia. Zom says, “Notice the mess she made, which is why she is no longer allowed in. Easels were tipped. Pythia is actually not a pet. She is a wild python over 10 feet long.”

Zom and Pythia

“After I ejected her from the studio, she spent the next 10 days trying to get back in.”

Pythia trying to get back in the studio door

Zom says Pythia finally gave up and went her own way but that they have seen her, they believe, as she sometimes glides through their little corner of the Australian rain forest on her way to other exciting adventures.

Thanks for coming by to meet our friends–I hope you have some of your own helping you out in your studio. Sure, they’re messy. Sure, they leave fur and feathers and all sorts of detritus in their wake, but, hey: where else can you find art critics so generous in their praise?

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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