WHAT MAKES A GREAT ARTIST STUDIO?

My new artist studio is totally different from the last. It’s cosy, quite small, almost office-like. But it suits me so well. And it even aided in me finding my signatures style. So I am already so grateful for this small space.

This is where the magic happens! And therefore this place got me thinking: what makes a great art studio?

my former artist studio the fran collages artist 2021
My former studio
my current artist studio the fran collage artist 2021
My current studio

WHAT MAKES A GREAT ARTIST STUDIO ACCORDING TO SOCIAL MEDIA?

We all know the mouth-watering pictures of the ideal artist studio on social media. It’s huge with lots of large windows, a high ceiling, great lighting and filled with humongous works in progress. Ideally there’s also an artist at work. Or pictured with one of these looks: pondering about the great questions of life, a devil-may-care-attitude that suggests they are changing the world whether you like it or not or a happy smile that’s saying: I love my life. That last look is my favourite. Though I am not sure about that artist studio ideal in real life anymore. Because I had that and it did not work. Let me explain:

MY EXPERIENCES IN ‘THE ARTIST STUDIO OF YOUR DREAMS’

I was lucky enough to be able to work in ‘the artist studio of your dreams’. From May until November 2020 I had this huge space to make art with exactly the things every artist seems to be yearning for:

  • lots of large windows
  • a high ceiling
  • lots of light (not very great because it was oriented south but hey, a grumpy ear that pays attention to that!
  • located in a building with other creatives (woodworkers, fabric artists, painters)
  • all the space I could ever need and more to create humongous art
Lot’s of windows and light
High ceiling
All the space you could ever need

The first couple of months were absolutely amazing. My art practice sky rocketed and I produced more art in my first months than I had made during the nine months before that. So I thought I was definitely on the right track.

STUDIO EXPECTATIONS…

But after a couple of months it suddenly changed. Probably influenced by all these great artist studios on Instagram I began questioning my use of the space. Why wasn’t I making humongous art when I obviously had the space for it? Wasn’t it time for me to upscale my work and start working bigger? Not only because that’s what you are supposed to be wanting to do as an artist but because I was having all this space and not using it. Wasn’t that a big middle finger to all the artists who wanted to work big but couldn’t because of their small studio?

So I started working big. I made a huge Applecross Panorama. And let’s be honest: I loved working on it. It was a blast to be able to make painting feel like a serious work-out. But I coulnd’t get myself to finishing it (it still isn’t finished). And that’s just so NOT like me. I am all for finishing what you started and if I can’t finish something that’s usually a very clear sign that I shouldn’t have started it in the first place. So. That party really died. No humongous art for me. And shortly after that realisation I started resenting my space. Feeling like it was just too big for me to fill with my own energy. Like I was too small and the studio too overwhelming to be conducive to my art.

Large art in the artist studio of the fran collage artist 2021
My Applecross Panorama in the making

WHAT REALLY MAKES A GREAT ARTIST STUDIO ACCORDING OT ME

But before I could lose myself in existential drama there was my husband who suggested that it was maybe time to try something different. Something smaller? Something outside the city center without all the noises? And before I knew it I found myself on the outskirts of town. In a small, office-like studio space with a wooden wall on one side. Looking out over industrial rooftops and lots of trees, straight to the epic brutalist architecture of Het Provinciehuis van Brabant. And I found myself again as an artist. This space with its ancient office carpet and rattling heating does something to me. It makes me feel like I come home every time I go to work.

my great artist studio at the moment
Small but cosy
great views from my artist studio
Great views
perfect artist chair
Perfect chair to cook up new ideas

WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR IDEAL ART STUDIO?

So there you have it. My great artist studio does not fit the usual requirements. But from day one it encouraged my artistic practice and did not have great expectations that smothered my creativity.

What would make a great art studio according to you? And do you already have your ideal artist studio or are you still looking for it? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Thank you for reading and until next week!

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH APPLECROSS

The last couple of weeks I have been working on my first large panorama painting. And I have made time lapse art videos of the painting process. In this post I have put them all together chronologically. So you can watch me paint autumn in Applecross. And see how it is all coming together. Scroll down to watch the time lapse videos. Read on if you want to know more about my love affair with Applecross. Or check out this blog post about all my new painting ideas first.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH APPLECROSS

I am painting a view from the Applecross cafe looking from inside into the autumn walled garden. The Applecross walled garden is by far my favourite place on earth. Especially in autumn. This painting brings back memories of our North Coast 500 road trip back in the autumn of 2017. We travelled 500 miles in 7 days. We saw some of the most magnificent views the Highlands have to offer. And on the 5th day we stumbled upon the hidden gem in Applecross. A walled garden. Adorned by creepers in red and yellow, trees with ripe red apples and with a cafe with an inside grape. Its vines all over the ceiling. On top of that there was a crackling fire adding smells of hot wood. And I had the best brie-bacon-raspberry jam sandwich of my life. If that doesn’t sound like paradise than I don’t know what will…

when my love affair with Applecross started
Applecross cafe (2017)

PAINTING AUTUMN IN APPLECROSS

So, I am painting autumn in Applecross. Because this year we weren’t able to visit our beloved Highlands. But as an artist there is always more than one path to a destination. So I decided to just paint the place I was longing for.

The stage it is in now: I have painted the autumn garden, but still need to add the arbour. Next step is to add the interior of the cafe and of course the inside grape hanging from the ceiling. You can follow my love affair on Instagram as well:

After that the only thing left to do is to make myself a cup of coffee and something resembling that delicious sandwich and pretending I am at the other side of the North Sea. Happy autumn!

NEW ART IDEAS TO EXPERIMENT WITH

Autumn has really kicked in here in The Netherlands and that’s always the moment I get all these new art ideas to experiment with! In the short video below I tell you about them and I show you all my new sketches:

New art ideas to experiment with!

CURRENTLY WORKING ON: COLOUR STUDIES

I am currently working on my extra small colour studies in oil pastel. I started them because I really liked experimenting with this new medium. And because I wanted to try out different colour schemes in a low profile way. By cutting up old oil paintings on paper I created A5 sized ‘primed’ oil pastel paper to work on. My approach is to make four different colour studies of one composition. The compositions I’ve made are inspired by my trip to Morocco in 2016 and the film The Best Exotic Marigold hotel.

Another idea behind these extra small colour studies was that I could find out what colours I use all the time and what colours I use rarely. The reason I wanted to find out was because I knew I want to switch to more expensive oil pastels in the future. And by finding out what colours suit me I can buy them more mindfully.

But while I was working on these small studies new art ideas crept into my mind. I wanted to work on larger works again! Let me tell you: that’s the best feeling ever!

new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
Small colour studies
new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
Oil pastels on primed paper, A5
new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
One composition in different colour schemes

NEW ART IDEAS: SHETLAND PAINTINGS

The first new art idea came to me while watching Shetland, the BBC television series about D.I. Jimmy Perez on Shetland. I was totally enthralled by it (‘by him’ should be a statement a little closer to the truth, but hey, I am running an art business here, not an online dating website…). The seascapes, rock formations, island views from the sea. All those views were just breathtakingly beautiful.

And even though I am not a very big fan of great landscape or seascape paintings (…. work being the exception) I wanted nothing more than to paint them. So I started sketching while watching and I came up with a couple of ideas.

You can see the sketches in the video!

NEW ART IDEAS: ‘COSY CORNERS’

This idea actually isn’t as new as the other ones. I have been dreaming of painting ‘cosy corners’ since the worldwide pandemic. Maybe because we were forced to stay home, maybe because I wanted to show my love for those places in my own home. Sitting next to a window, underneath a large plant, watching the weather and the trees outside is my kind of happiness.

But back in March I didn’t think it original enough. I am always influenced by Henri Matisse, but this idea felt like straight from his mind or something. But it’s September now and the idea is still creeping back into my head every week. So I decided to surrender. Cosy corners, here I come!

Some base layers in oil
A3 sized backgrounds
Oil paint thinned with white spirit

NEW ART IDEAS: KITCHEN CORNERS WITH FOOD

Another idea, closely linked to those cosy corners is my wish to paint a series of kitchen corners with food. I have always had a fetish for food (I once had a food blog for about 3 years). I really love good food photography. So when I started scrolling through the old pictures I took for my food blog I was like: this is a goldmine!

So this is also definitely happening: a series of kitchen corners with cabinets, kitchen tables, jars with marmalade, home made lemonade and piles of pancakes! Can’t wait to paint these!

The first fifteen backgrounds on my studio floor. I’ve made 12 more since then but I don’t have any pictures yet.

AND NOW WHAT?

It’s been a while since I had this many ideas for new paintings! So I got a little bit confused about how to act… Bob said: just go with the flow. Work on all those ideas at once and let the work guide you. There is no deadline, there are no expectations. Just immerse yourself and enjoy it. Good advice. To be continued!

FOLLOW MY PROGRESS

In the meantime you can follow my progress on Instagram @art.bythefran or on my YouTube Channel The Fran Zone.

ART TALK: HOW I MAKE ART BEHIND THE SCENES

Last week I recorded an art talk about my XXL Fruits. You can watch it below or check out my YouTube Channel. Part 1 is about the Fruits in space. Part 2 is about the Fruits on earth. I hope you enjoy watching them!

Art Talk XXL Fruits – Part 1
Art Talk XXL Fruits – Part 2

ART TALK?

As you know I post my art on Instagram (@art.bythefran) but sometimes I feel like the context is missing. Like: what was my inspiration for the whole series and how did the artworks changed while I was painting them. Very often I start out with an idea and as I go along it changes into something different. You don’t see that when you just see end results. So that’s why I have started recording these short videos. To guide you through my artistic process and show you my art in real life, with me for scale haha!

THE INTENTIONS OF MY ART TALK

My intention is to keep recording these Art Talk-videos with every new series op paintings I finish. There’s so much going on behind the scenes in my art studio and I think it’s a shame not to tell you about it and show it to you. It really is about the process of making art. With all its unpredictability and serendipity.

first draft of plum in space summer 2019 in catalonia
First draft of Plum in space – summer 2019
second draft: plum on earth, autumn 2019 back home
Changed it into Plum on Earth – autumn 2019
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Added shadow and more texture in the plum
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Added colour and to the leaves
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Final alterations before discarding it – I really hated the painting at that moment – winter 2019
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Trying something new: making it a yellow plum – spring 2020
art talk about how my art comes together: plum in space, oil on canvas by the fran, visual artist 2020
Final painting: Yellow plum, back in space, summer 2020.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It’s not my intention to ‘explain’ my art or to put some sort of deep meaning into it during my art talk. I leave that up to the viewer, up to you. I strongly believe explaining art is killing it. Information is key but forced meaning means the death of it. I create art because it gives me freedom. I don’t want to force the viewers look in some direction. On the contrary! I would love you to come up with your own way of looking at it. Your way of viewing it within your personal or cultural art history.

NEW DRAWINGS: TUCSON CITY SCENES

Last month I surfed a huge creative wave. My output was kind of large: 64 new artworks. 16 of them are these new drawings of Tucson city scenes. What do you think of them?

new ink drawings tucson inspired by photographs by Robert de Garde the fran new art 2020
new ink drawings based on photographs by robert de garde

TUCSON CITY SCENES

These new drawings feature doorways, cacti behind barred window panes, cosy wooden benches between outdoor plants and one deserted castle. Their perspective changes from super zoomed in to panorama like when it comes to the one that’s not necessarily a city scene (the one with the large cacti on the hill).

zoomed in new ink drawing barred window pane tucson
Super zoomed in
new ink drawing cacti tucson panorama
Panorama like

In a way they remind me of my trip to Gerona. And they inspire me to draw new inspiration from the photographs I took there and the ink drawings I made. Maybe a whole new Gerona oil canvas board series is on its way, who knows!

INSPIRATION FOR THESE NEW DRAWINGS

My friend Robert de Garde travels the whole wide world and makes the most wonderful pictures. His exotic city scenes of Tucson immediately caught my eye. I asked if I could paint his compositions. He agreed and here we are!

I made ink drawings to make the compostions ‘mine’. That means some depth is off, some plants and pots become enormously large compared to their window pane, but hey, this is The Fran Zone haha!

huge plant next to doorway ink drawing by the fran 2020 tucson series
This plant and pot are huge!

SPECS OF THESE NEW DRAWINGS

These ink Tucson drawings are all 21 x 29.7 cm (A4). They are yours for €77,- a piece. They come signed and framed. You can find them more detailed here. Price is including UK / European shipping. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase one or more. They are all available through Artist Support Pledge.

THE NEXT STEP

My next step is to translate these new drawings into small oil artworks. I’ve already painted the base layers on A4 size canvas boards. And I intend to finish them with oil paint and oil pastels as well. I’ve been longing to try out oil pastels for a long time and now I’ve finally found a collection of 60 different colours in one package. So it feels like their time has come!

work in progress

YOUR TURN:

What do you think of these new drawings? Do you have a favourite? Do you think they work well as a set of 16 or do you think they are all small artworks in their own right? Would you pair them into themes (like ‘window panes’ and ‘doorways’)? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments!

NEW WORK IN MY ART STUDIO

Who would have thought my first new work in my art studio would be collages? I for one didn’t!

Check out my Happy Habits mixed media collages in detail.

Check out my New & Familiar mixed media composition in detail.

new work collages the fran art studio the fran zone
new work by the fran art studio the fran zone

I was tidying my cupboard and discovered the two collages I made a year ago during art class. My art teacher encouraged me to start making collages. To try out new forms, shapes and different colour schemes. At first I was stubborn of course and I didn’t see the need.

Until I started cutting. I discovered I LOVE cutting coloured paper and who’s worried about ‘need’ when you’re having fun? I might have known though, because I loved cutting paper as a child and always made paper doilies. You know the drill? Fold a paper until you got a small square. Then cut it up, make little holes and tiny shapes, but maintain the integrity of the paper. Fold it open and voila: there is your paper doily!

So before I knew it there were 16 collages lying on the floor of my new art studio. That escalated quickly and I didn’t see that one coming…

new work collages by the fran art studio the fran zone
cut up paper from making collages

NEW WORK WITH A FAMILIAR TOUCH

I used watercolour paper, ‘normal’ paper, crayons, East-Indian ink and coloured ink. To me they feel new and familiar at the same time. The technique is new but I used my own shapes inspired by anything botanical and organic swirls.

The next day I wanted to explore the idea further. I coloured all the paper I had left and made ink drawings on the back. After that I started cutting. I made you a short time lapse video of that (check out my YouTube channel for one more):

Within 2 hours I had 16 more! They differ from the first ones in two ways:

The second batch are all artworks in their own right while the first 16 ones together are more than the sum of their parts. The colour shemes are brighter and each one got a lot more going on than the first 16.

For the second batch I used paper I had previously used to write down all the nasty habits surrounding my perfectionism. Habits I wanted to leave behind in 2019 and not take with me in 2020. When I found them last week at first I thought ‘let’s just throw them away’. But then I decided to transform them into art. Because that’s something I try to do every time: transform something personal into art. That’s why the second batch has titles like ‘Resilience’, ‘Flexibility’ and ‘Pleasure’. They are the opposites of the nasty habits I cut up.

new work collages by the fran art studio the fran zone den bosch francine orsel
francine orsel the fran art studio the fran zone new work collages

NEW WORK AVAILABLE TROUGH ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE

collage by the fran, black ink, coloured ink and crayon on different kinds of layered paper, A4, available for purchase 200 euros including frame and worldwide shipping
collage by the fran, black ink, coloured ink and crayon on different kinds of layered paper, A4, available for purchase 200 euros including frame and worldwide shipping

The 16 collages of the second batch are all available trough the Artist Support Pledge. Read more about this genius initiative. Please contact me if you’re interested because I haven’t put them in my shop yet.

Their specs: black ink, coloured ink and crayon on layers of different paper (water colour paper, drawing paper, sketch paper) size A4, €200,- including frame and worldwide shipping.

If you enter The Fran Zone first you’ll get 10% off your first artwork. That means you only pay €180,-. Join today!

* indicates required

The first batch of 16 collages I offer as a whole. It comes framed and will be approximately 110 x 150 cm. Its specs: black ink, coloured ink and crayon on layers of different paper (water colour paper, drawing paper, sketch paper) size A4, €1700,- including frame and worldwide shipping. Please contact me if you’re interested.

collage art by the fran available for purchase black ink, coloured ink and crayon on different kinds of paper, 110x150cm 1700 euros including frame and worldwide shipping

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What do you think of them? Do you have a favourite? Do you like the first batch or the second batch the most? Is there a colour combo that speaks to you? Would love to hear your feedback!

Now, onward with other new work. Because I have lift off and my urges to create are back with a vengeance!

close up collages francine orsel the fran art studio the fran zone
close up collages the fran francine orsel art studio the fran zone

ART STUDIO DEN BOSCH

Guys! Shit just got real! Last week I got the keys to my very first and very own art studio in Den Bosch. The place is totally brill. It’s spacious, light and it has got a very good energy. So if you were wondering why I didn’t blog for a whole month: I was busy preparing, furnishing, enjoying!

art studio the fran zone den Bosch
the fran in her art studio

I’ve created an ‘easle wall’ so I will be able to work on multiple large paintings at once. Just as in Spain. You know that’s the way I like it haha.

I’ve also created a cozy ‘mini living room’ for anyone who likes to come and visit. Like I did at the Eindhoven Maker Faire in September 2019. You can lounge in my comfy armchair. Watch me paint or enjoy the vibes in general.

easle wall in my art studio
mini living room for you to enjoy

Right now I’m busy turning the stage (omg yes my art studio has a stage – bless me!) into a wee shop / showroom. It will showcase all my art scarfs, art cushions, art table linens and so forth. An offline stone and mortar shop to complement my online shop. You are more than welcome to come take a look. Like I said, my art studio is super spacious so we can maintain a lot of distance 🙂

FREE AT LAST: MY ART STUDIO

It may sound somewhat exaggerated: ‘free at last’ when it comes to my new art studio. But it does feel this liberating! For the first time in my life I feel I’ve really made a decision for me. And put it into action. For the first time in my life I’m going on an adventure I chose for me. This feeling results in a peaceful state of mind I can’t recall in a long time. Suddenly just being myself, being an artist is enough. I am enjoying it immensely.

happy the pappy in my new art studio
lemon on earth catalan collection 2019 large canvas

Free at last. To live my life. Not a life carefully planned by others. No life dictated by a toxic family system held together by religious fear and emotional neglect. Not a life in which I am only busy proving everybody wrong or proving I am worthy. Just my life. My own. To live and to discover. To shape and to alter. And to enjoy and to cherish.

After 2,5 years and a lot of struggles, sleepless nights, pain, fear and sorrow of letting my old life behind and actually burning my bridges, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And in the words of Snoop Dogg: I want to thank me!