Artist in res­i­dence

World of art The Cal­i­for­nian pain­ter shows us around her bustling stu­dio space, where her art shares first billing with her home­life

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Vanessa lives and works in San Diego with Ron Le­men. You can see more of her work at www.vanes­sale­me­nart.blogspot.com

Cal­i­for­nia-based Vanessa Le­men opens up her stu­dio.

I usu­ally have sev­eral paint­ings go­ing at once. It’s im­por­tant that they’re sur­round­ing me be­cause the stu­dio is the world that my paint­ings and I live in to­gether and carry on an on­go­ing dia­logue.

My hus­band, Ron, and I are both artists, and liv­ing and work­ing go to­gether hand in hand. I would say that our whole house is a stu­dio space, but the sec­ond floor of the house is es­pe­cially set up for the pur­pose of work­ing and cre­at­ing.

The room I mostly work in at home – and what I call my stu­dio – is a good-sized, open loft at the top of the stairs; the walls are cov­ered in WIPs. I put small shelves and ledges up on one of the walls, so that I can in­ter­change my work eas­ily, to and from my easel. I can put wet paint­ings there to dry, and have them out so that they’re there in my sur­round­ings.

In other ar­eas of that stu­dio space, I have clips that hold smaller paint­ings in nooks and spa­ces – wher­ever there’s room to store more wet paint­ings and have them around and vis­i­ble to me. I also have a kitchen dish dry­ing rack to place the small­est paint­ings in, which keeps them nicely sep­a­rated if they’re wet.

Mu­sic is also a big part of the cre­ative process for me, and it’s im­por­tant to have it in my space while I paint. There’s a nice

comfy couch in my stu­dio that’s usu­ally oc­cu­pied by our dog, Zoe, who stretches out on it while I work. The couch also be­comes a great com­mu­nal spot for stu­dio hang-out time with Ron and our friends, and is a good place for me to sit back and take a look at the work that’s sur­round­ing me in that space.

I find that a dish dry­ing rack is great for set­ting small paint­ings out to dry. It keeps them sep­a­rated and or­gan­ised. There are paint­ings clipped to my book­shelves and prac­ti­cally any place I can stash them to dry. On my easel you’re likely to find a cur­rent WIP, maybe a re­cently fin­ished paint­ing, and other art­works clipped to it where there’s room. At my desk, I’ve got my Mac and Wa­com, an ex­tra mon­i­tor (with a ton of Sticky Notes all over it), and a Cin­tiq, plus my speaker and printer off to the side, and a we­b­cam for on­line in­struc­tion, tu­to­ri­als and meet­ings. Sit­ting down to play the key­board helps to clear my head for a bit. I some­times use a small fold­ing ta­ble or my ta­boret to lay paint­ings flat if I need to add ei­ther splat­ters or marks that re­quire the sur­face to be flat, in­stead of up­right on the easel.

I have var­i­ous dry paint­ings stacked next to the couch, as well as in other places around the stu­dio. These ledges are great for plac­ing larger, wet paint­ings out of the way, but where I can see them. I have small paint­ings clipped in ran­dom places on book­shelves through­out my stu­dio, to let them dry and to have them out around me. To say that we have a lot of books is an huge un­der­state­ment. This is one wall of our first floor liv­ing room, and the books are ba­si­cally what fill most of the walls in all the rooms of our house. We have a nice chill-space on the pa­tio in our back yard that’s a cool spot to hang out and sketch. I’ve been known to take up the din­ing room ta­ble and work there on a pro­ject. The two kit­tens are Mazzy and Rey, and they’re con­stantly ex­plor­ing. The fact that our house is one big stu­dio space makes for a good amount of ad­ven­tur­ing for them.

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