Why Visit Open Studios

Live & Breathe Art: Visit an Artist's Studio

8 Feb 2023

By Cat Doyle

Welcome to the Art World

The Uffizi, the Louvre, the Tate, MOMA, MONA; What do they all have in common?

The obvious answer is ART. What else?

Every piece of artwork in these alluring art museums started life in the mind of an artist, and usually in an artist’s studio.

The studio is where the serious business of creating art happens, and it’s a very special place.

Ric Abel's Southern Highlands Studio

The studio is the private creation space of the artist. An artist uses their studio as a way to exert their consistently flowing creative energy; to experiment and create. Usually off limits, except through a dealer, or a once a year arts trail; the artist studio is a place of alchemy where ordinary materials are transformed through the hand of the artist into objets d'art.

For the collector, the art studio is hallowed ground.

For the merely curious, the art studio is a fascinating place to visit; and a fabulous way to peek inside the art world!

Meeting the artist will transform your relationship with art

Ric Abel in his studio

Good art — it draws you inexorably in. It hits you on a visceral level and makes you ask questions: Questions about the artwork; questions about yourself.

If you’ve invested in art and hung it in your home, you’ll know that the connection you feel with the work evolves into something fuller, and more magical over time, just like a fine wine matures as it ages. Your brain literally gets a hit of dopamine every time you gaze at that piece that you love so much.

Having a conversation with the artist about their work allows you to go faster, deeper, further. Your emotional connection with the work expands as you engage with the piece, share in its creation story, and your appreciation (let's call it infatuation) grows too.

Every studio visit is like a retrospective exhibition

Looby's Paintings Line the Walls

What’s more you can see the artist’s journey. You can see the progression in their thinking, and the evolution in the way they apply the paint; their choice of subject matter, and changes in their scale of working.

I remember visiting a Piet Mondrian show as a young lass in London. It was the first retrospective I’d been to, and I was blown away by the transformation from old-fashioned Dutch landscapes to the geometric abstraction he’s known for, and the obvious transition pieces along the way.

Visit the artist’s studio to find those intriguing transition pieces; the ones that don’t quite seem to fit at the time, but are key in the artist’s career.

You’ll discover art that you can’t find in commercial galleries

Ric Abel - Nude Study

The best exhibitions are always cohesive, and to make the show cohesive they must be curated (either by the gallerist, or the artist, and often by both). Sometimes even extraordinary pieces can be excluded if they don’t fit with the curation for a show.

In the studio you will find work that has never been exhibited: Works on paper, works in progress, the experiments, the completed work that wasn’t back from the framers in time, brand new work. You’ll also find unsold work, because even the most famed artists have work returned from an exhibition unsold. These pieces might be reworked or exhibited once again, but meanwhile they live in the artist’s studio.

One of these pieces might belong with you.

The artist’s studio (in all its mess of creation) beckons you in

Painting - the Aftermath

Every artist has different methods of working; different ways of gathering together inspiration from disparate sources to inform their work. This process is visible in the artist’s studio (even when it is not visible in finished work hanging on the wall). Francis Bacon famously had desecrated photographs all over the floor. Margaret Olley’s studio was a kaleidoscope of blooms, books, and Kilim patterns. Other studios are neat and tidy. All reflect the personality of the artist.

Next time you are looking at a piece of art, and you find yourself lost in it, remember that the artist also lost themselves in that work during its creation. There is much magic in art, and the place where much of the alchemy happens is the artist’s studio.


Spud Lane Studios reopens to art lovers from Saturday February 11th 2023. Alongside a curated selection of work in our exhibition space, you’ll also find works in progress, the stories behind the work, and the artists. Located in Robertson in the Southern Highlands, we’re 2 hours drive from Sydney and Canberra and a short hop from Wollongong and the Shoalhaven.

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