Artist in residence
Upstairs downstairs The Hugo Award-winning artist reveals how she works on both floors of her home… when her cat allows her to
Julie Dillon on how her cat is both a help and a hindrance in her dual-room home studio.
My work desk is my home-within-my-home, the place where I spend most of my day, and as such I try to make it as comfortable as I can. I’ve shuffled around the furniture and art elements over the years, slowly adjusting them until I get it just right, and I like how it’s set up currently.
I do all my art in Photoshop with an Intuos4 tablet and a dual monitor setup on a PC. For me, making a work area is primarily about atmosphere, mood and comfort. I try to make sure I’m setting up a place where I can get in a creative mood and focus on my work for several hours a day, without getting burned out or irritated. The room is usually kept relatively dark to avoid glare on the screen, and I have a lot of soft lighting to create a nice mood.
I work at this upstairs desk for most of the day and then in the evening I tend to go downstairs to watch TV while continuing my work on my laptop.
It’s nice to have a change of scenery in the evening, and there are some tasks that I’ll save for when I’m on my laptop (anything that doesn’t require extra concentration or careful colour calibration).
I feel I should disclose that I’m generally not allowed to keep anything on the top of the bookshelf. If I happen to stay up late working, my cat jumps up on that top shelf
and angrily shoves off everything in sight, until I get the hint and shut the computer down. He’s broken coffee mugs and has made a general mess on many occasions. It’s so nice that he cares so much about me getting enough sleep.
This is Strider from Sideshow Collectibles’ LOTR collection. I justified the purchase by telling myself it’s an art reference. But it just sits there looking pretty. I bought this for a facial anatomy class – it’s a really useful reference. In the class, we added clay to flesh out the face, but I’ve never managed to get it all off. These are a few figurines that I’ve had forever and a quick Google search tells me they are World of Krystonia figures. I have a variety of sculptures and statuettes that I’ve collected because I just like the look or shape of them. I just happened across this crystal ball, and thought it would make a fun addition to my work area. I like to put candles behind it and see how the light interacts with it.
A print by Ciruelo Cabral I got at SDCC. I thought it was particularly lovely. A lot of his work is more detailed, but I like the looser brushstrokes here. I used to play piano a lot, but gave it up to pursue quieter creative outlets. Recently I got an electric keyboard and I can play again, with headphones. I took a piece of manzanita wood, LED lights and translucent Sculpey, and made a mushroom log with little glowing mushrooms. It adds to the atmosphere. I have a lot of bookshelves, but this one has some of my favourite books. They’re like old friends, and it’s nice having them around and near at hand. This dragon is a sculpture from PurplecatCreatives on Etsy. I really like her style. I really enjoy the perfume oils from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and I like to have a few of my favourites nearby to wear while I’m working (the rest of my massive collection is in my room in a drawer). This was gorgeously sculpted by Andrew Cawrse. It’s been very handy, but I just realised I’ve been lazy and haven’t practised from it as much as I meant to.