Thirty years ago, sculptor Margaret Swan converted a garage at her home into an artist studio. The five-hundred-square-foot garage, which is behind her Victorian house in a Boston suburb, boasts a high-peaked roof loft space. “It is not a source of inspiration, but a place for inspiration to take place,” says Swan.
More than twenty-five years ago, PD Packard bought a boarded-up brownstone in Brooklyn that had been vacant for a decade. Friends nicknamed it the Adam’s family house, but to her, the entire home was inspirational, allowing her to express her true love, color—contrasting sharply with the Federal brick colonial she grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where all the walls were painted white.
This fall, artist Rosalyn Driscoll said goodbye to her beautiful, downtown studio. For thirty years, she’d rented the 1,200-square-foot studio in a former factory in Easthampton, MA. But escalating rents, a need for more storage space, and a desire for a shorter commute pushed her to move into a newly built studio in an open field a hundred yards from her home in rural western Massachusetts. “The new studio provides spaciousness and freedom,” she says. “It offers grounding and a stable connection to so much I hold dear.”
Metal sculptor Monica Coyne is inspired by the rainforest surrounding her forge shop, a forty-minute drive from the nearest town in Humboldt County, California. Every day, she opens two roll-up doors, onto a view of mature madrones and towering firs. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining—that area averages eighty inches of rain in winter—or hot as in summer when temperatures climb to 105 degrees: “The rain, the fog, and the crisp crackling leaves at the height of the dry summer fill my brain with thoughts about our connection to everything,” says Coyne. “Transferring these thoughts to cold, black, industrially manufactured steel creates a fascinating dichotomy. This drives my work.”
As she enters her home-based studio in West Lafayette, Indiana, fiber artist Andrea Rae is reminded of a dark side of human existence. Hanging on the door is a pocket from a pair of jeans worn by a former prostitute. On the pocket, the word “Tips” is written in red ink. “For me, this woven piece of fabric is a daily reminder of human trafficking, child pornography, and the many tragedies that still occur in every state and country.”
Painter Dorothea Osborn draws inspiration from her home-based studio. She loves its location on the Normanskill Creek in Delmar, New York, and its lightness due to a large window and glass door. She places her grandmother’s rocking chair and a table near the window to sketch, read, and work on the computer. When the weather is nice, she works on the deck or in the yard.
For David Criner, a basement studio has become his sanctuary. There, in his Chicago home, his best emotional and spiritual selves manifest. In fact, thirteen years ago, he wanted to buy the house because of its basement. The basement is spacious—unlike earlier studios housed in small apartments and even a storage locker—and easily accessible. No longer does he want to share a studio with other artists as he did as a student; he requires privacy to create his art.