Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is your "altar" for making art?

I receive Robert Genn's newsletter every week.  Each post is inspiring in some way, but there are a few that deeply resonate with me.  The post in a recent email was one of those.  I would like to share a portion of it and encourage you to stop by Robert's site and check out some of his other writing.  He is a painter, specifically, but his words resonate with artists across the board.

My print table and my sewing table are my main "easels".  So, dear reader, I ask you:  what is your "easel"?  Where does your creative alchemy occur?  

Here is a portion of Robert's e-newsletter:

The American architect and author Anthony Lawlor looks at rooms as containers 
for the elevation of the human spirit. The kitchen, for example, is a sacred place 
where raw foods are transformed by the alchemy of heat into sustenance and 
delicacy. Bedrooms are sanctuaries for the mysterious transformations of sleeping 
and loving. Bathrooms are closed retreats of personal cleanliness and hygiene.

Apart from perhaps the nursery, nothing compares 
to the remarkable container known as the studio. 
Here is a sanctuary where mere materials are
transformed into objects of beauty.  Like the
laboratory, the studio is a domain of imaginative

At the center of most studios is a piece of furniture 
called the easel. Whether simple and humble or 
complex and magnificent, it is at this unit that the 
creator sets her forces in motion.

You might pause to consider how blessed are we 
who daily stand or sit before the easel. Ideally, 
it should be a strong object, so it can be pushed 
hard against, or be made to hold rock-steady during 
our more delicate passages. The easel needs to be 
well lit from above so those born on it can be
properly examined, pampered, and reconsidered.

The easel is an altar to productivity. Traditional 
altars have been places of worship and sacrifice, 
and the studio easel is no exception. He who would
 do well at one must respect and honour the gods 
of quality, truth, composition, imagination, pattern, 
perspective, story, drawing, colour, fantasy and flair. 
To stand or sit at one, even in play, you need to 
prepare yourself for labour.

The easel is also a place of sacrifice. Substandard 
passages or whole works are summarily struck down 
at this often troubling altar--but rebirth is its usual 
fruit. Both honour and responsibility go with your 
easel, your altar.


  1. a thought provoking question. I have three primary "easels": my cutting table, my ironing station and my sewing table and I probably use them primarily in that order.

  2. Very thought provoking - my main easel is my table - however when I am very messy I use the "floor easel" as well.

  3. Thank you for sharing a portion of Robert's newsletter. I'm going to sign up for it.

    I agree with Sue and Gina - thought provoking post. My main "easel" is a dining room table that my grandparents used but any surface will do when the inspiration strikes.

  4. I love this. 'the remarkable container known as the studio' - stated so beautifully. My design/cutting table is my easel.

  5. My easel is my floor, remarkably humbling as I bow down to reach it. And it is amazingly flexible to work on small pieces or very large ones. Great essay!

  6. hey admin
    This article is really insightful, it went ahead and made my day, you are seriously a professional blogger

  7. My easel is my desk and a wooden table in the back bedroom. Also a space at my workplace is also an easel where I do art pages when work is slow

  8. My easel quite often spills over to my office desk at work when I am being obsessed by new ideas.

  9. Thanks for introducing me to Robert Genn! His articulation of the ideal artist's experience of personal creative place/space is beautiful. I am still trying to find and develop my "easel" in my tiny apartment. Right now it is the kitchen countertop!

  10. Kitchen countertops are good! I guess necessity really is the mother of invention, and it is true of work spaces, too.


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