The Importance of Reference Materials in an Art Studio

Over the last few weeks, I have been going through my studio a section at a time, reorganizing, pulling out unused supplies, and rearranging my collections. I find that I am more productive if I go through this process regularly because it reminds me what I have in the studio, allows me to clear out things that are unused or distracting, and often inspires new ideas for artwork.

I have been hearing a lot of people talking lately about a trendy new personality who recommends purging your house of things. If a minimalist lifestyle works for you, that’s wonderful. It does not work for me. I use nearly everything I have in my studio for reference; be it art book, beetle carapace, or bird nest.


An elderly gentleman once told me that my depiction of a crow wasn’t right. He said “If I was painting that, it would look just like a crow”. That may be true, however unsolicited his opinion may have been at the time, but I didn’t take it to heart.
I value accuracy in my work, which is the reason I have so many reference books and collections of dried flowers, bird nests, skeletons and insects I have found over the years; but I also like to stylize my painting subjects. I have nothing against photo-realistic art, but it doesn’t interest me. I like to impart character on my subjects and invite the viewer to wonder if there is a deeper meaning or hidden story lurking in the art.

As I go into 2019 with figurative guns blazing, I have big plans for new work and new directions in my art practice. I have gotten over the slump I was in most of last summer and the fall that resulted from burnout after a big show that I did not have room to prepare for until the deadline was approaching.
Now that my studio space has been expanded, a huge quantity of unused salvage materials have been donated to other artists, and I am well into the process of organizing the art supplies I no longer use for donation, I am feeling reinvigorated and inspired to focus on completing projects quickly and working on the concept for future projects.
I am currently ahead of schedule on deadlines, have scheduled regular workshops with two new venues, and am set to begin working on personal projects full time. I am also very excited to be lining up work for new shows ahead of schedule and getting ready to start painting with oils again full-time.

I hope you are getting off to a great start with your creative practice in the new year.
What is your current project?

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