Lisa Mitchell

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what you can learn from an open studio tour

Lisa Mitchell | May 28, 2013 | 1 comment

What does your studio say about you? Even in the smallest ways, how do you manage to create a space that conveys an endless invitation to be creative—even if you don’t use art materials with clients?


Yesterday, we returned to our favorite artist’s space.  It was no more than a shed with windows.  But Eleanor had infused her whimsy into her yellow doors and sunny approach to ceramics.  While I sat on the deck, fantasizing about inhabiting her space—one day, my way, some day—I wondered what it would be like to make magic in a forest meadow dollhouse.  Building and artist being so closely matched they probably share a heartbeat.


Molly’s space was lovely.  Her garden flowers stole the show.  The rock rose trellis called to me as it twined above the dainty French window panes.  Molly’s pit fired bowls belonged on my fireplace mantel, but she belonged in her garden tending to that vintage apple tree and its flowering rock wall neighbor.


Last night, I made a list in my head—shelf wrapped walls, pictorial deck view, brass knobbed doors—I could see it.   And then Kate said, “You have a studio, I love your studio.”  And then I realized, yes I have a studio and so does my therapist friend Kate, and all the other wonderful therapists I know.


Our spaces are not just offices, they are artist spaces.  We make art with our clients here—collaborative conversations, transforming painful memories, tending to blossoming creativity and love.  Some of us do use actual art materials—paint, glue, clay.  Others of us use our words, our hearts, and our eternal hope.


Elizabeth Doherty Thomas recently posted a request on Facebook.  She’s setting up her very first office (studio) and she wanted to know what others thought—chairs or couches?  She’s a couple’s therapist and was concerned about the generic couch being too restrictive for couples who might need to face one another as they work.  My response was no different than the other 10 responses.  All of the more seasoned therapists gave her the same advice.  Chairs are good (especially swivel), but make sure you have a couch on which you can comfortably nap!


We know, as therapists, what it takes to make our space that home away from home so that invites our clients to dive in to something beyond themselves.  We understand the combined necessity of utility and comfort, efficiency and creativity.  Our spaces are havens—just like Eleanor’s and Molly’s.


Tomorrow, I’m going to walk into my studio as if I was a stranger on an open studio tour.  I’m going to notice what it is my space says about me, and what it invites.  I’m going to sit there on the deck and imagine what it feels like to make magic in my funky village house on a hill.  Maybe I’ll clean up a bit.  Maybe I’ll change some of the art around.  I know I will appreciate it in a new and meaningful way.


What does your studio say about you?  Even in the smallest ways, how do you manage to create a space that conveys an endless invitation to be creative—even if you don’t use art materials with clients?

One response to “what you can learn from an open studio tour”

  1. Belinda Carter says:

    Lisa, It sounds as if your art studio tour opened your eyes to much more than other artists’ art and studio spaces….but to the magic that you create in your own light filled artist space on the hill. I know that I thoroughly delight in its welcoming aura, with its permission to make a mess, be expansive in my creativity, and have room at the creative table to have my own sacred space and yet be in the presence of other creatives who are also learning and diving deeply into themselves, each of us finding our own magic in this safe haven. Your artist space says so much about you…..glad you are seeing it anew.

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