Monotype: Gold Mining and Tips for Making Art after Moving

A painter standing in a golden meadow sketching the grasses and trees
Gold Mining 9 x 7 monotype with watercolor & colored pencil (Available framed and ready to hang here)

How Does Moving Affect Your Art?

In a recent newsletter (you can read it here), I described an impromptu art-making party in the temporary home of a friend who lost her house and studio in the Thomas Fire. Four of us gathered around a folding banquet table with borrowed chairs and tote bags full of art supplies to cast a creative spell, and inaugurate the space that will be Didi’s art studio.

Making Art in Unfamiliar Spaces

How does one get back to art-making after the upheaval of a move? When the layout of the art room, and storage of supplies is opposite from your familiars? When is the best time to create if daylight illuminates the room from an unfamiliar angle? How do artists find their “making-zone” when the ambient sounds and sense of “place” feel foreign? Moving is disruptive to creativity if your studio is in your home. So where do we begin again?

Tips to Get Back in the Art Making Groove

I moved twice since becoming a full time artist, and I wasn’t prepared for the disruption. I only realized after the move how comfortable and inviting the well-worn path to my previous work table was.

Can you recall a first morning in a new home, standing in an unfamiliar kitchen, planning to make a cup of coffee, but you have no idea where the filters are? And did anyone unpack the mugs? Is the stove connected? By the time you get to the third unknown, you throw in the towel and go to Starbucks. If you haven’t spent deliberate, focused time getting acquainted with a new studio or creative space, you might feel just as discouraged from making things.

a room with a mess of boxes ans stacks of art supplies to be put away
The chaos of unpacking and storing art supplies in a new space can be overwhelming

Steer the Car

Creating in a new space requires a little forced time at the art-table. The muscle memory of where your supplies live, the best light during the day, and where you sit or stand to work has to be established – even when it feels outside your comfort zone. Like reaching for a light switch on the wrong wall because you previously had a light switch on the other side – your limbs and brain have to synchronize to your new layout.

Make it your Secret Garden

Help that process by spending time in that space (or that chair, or that corner of the dining room), even if you’re only drinking tea and reading art books. Begin lining your little art-nest with quiet time, spent in pleasantries. Train your body and brain to crave that area for decompression and respite. Art-making is your haven, right? Make the space appealing, choose a comfortable chair, add a good light and keep it organized and neat so you can get to work when the urge arises.

A cat laying in the sun on a messy desk
Where are my brushes? And my drawing pencils? And where should I draw today? (My desk [& my studio assistant] while unpacking after moving into my current studio.)

Wrap it in Accountability

If your new space hasn’t been broken in yet – all your time there could be an exercise in search & rescue to find where everything got stored. Those hiccups will prohibit deep creating. If you’ve already tried forcing yourself to work, and it just didn’t flow, how about hosting an art session (or two) with a handful of like minded friends? Knowing others are coming over to make things forces 1) a little clean up and organization 2) a set schedule reserved for art-making 3) an opportunity for “group-think” on the layout of your space, storage of supplies, best use of surface area. Sometimes, we’re too close to the problem to think clearly, and outside suggestions can pull the curtains back and let the sunshine in. ☀


two black and white monotypes of a landscape, with a painter standing in a field at an easel
The monotype above, on the left and a ghost print on the right. Printed with black ink from a sheet of pexiglass.

Mind Your Elbows

Your work surface is the most important part of your creative space. Guard it from clutter, ensure that it’s at the right height and angle for your most comfortable arm positions and head/neck angle. Arrange a strong light next to it for after-hours creating, and gather your favorite and most used supplies nearby so you don’t have to leave your spot to grab them.

The same landscape monotype with a painter at her easel in the field, with transparent washes of watercolor over the ink
First washes of watercolor on top of the monotype

Coddle Your Creative Urges

Creativity is a delicate character. She’s thin skinned, prone to doubts, easily interrupted, fickle in her comings and goings, and she’s perpetually distracted. A move is disruptive on so many levels, and it can scare creativity into a locked cupboard for weeks. Lure her to you with determination, a cozy, inviting space, organization of your making-supplies, good company in the form of fellow artists and art-dates, and a sing-songy, encouraging mantra that the two of you have Got This. You really do.  Get set up, and march with conviction – holding creativity in tow – to your space, and make something.


A man's hand scratching into wet paint on a festive, colorful sky-based landscape
Bob Burridge painting fast & beautiful landscapes with paper towels and his fingers. If you haven’t watched his Bob-Blast video tips on painting, give them a spin. He’s wonderful.

Loosen Up with Bob Burridge

Years ago, I took an art marketing workshop from Bob Burridge, and it made me a lifer – a fan of his work, his approach and his easy-going and kind character. He’s generous with tips and encouragement through his video series called Bob Blasts, and this one about loosening up is appropriate to this post. If you’ve moved and you’re stuck, follow Bob’s lead. In this brief video, he’s painting a whole series of landscapes with wadded up paper towels and his fingernails. (!!!) And the results are wonderful! Thanks for the encouragement, Bob! You Rock!

Gold Mining, monotype in process on the studio table

Be of Good Use

What are your tips and tricks to get back into art after a move? How do you saddle your art-making horse and ride her after a loooong dry spell? Don’t be shy: your approach might help a fellow artist bust through a period of creative block, whether its from moving, or a life-pivot, or a careless comment about skills. Share your sound advice in the comments. We all work better when we do it together.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post,


P.S. If you know a quilter who struggles with selecting fabrics and laying out color, my girl Melanie Ham has a new Color Theory class for Quilters online here.

Clicking this graphic will get you access to a discount on this course. Because you’re cool, and we’re friends. 🙂

Art Quote

The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.

~Rollo May

12 thoughts on “Monotype: Gold Mining and Tips for Making Art after Moving”

  1. Pingback: Watercolor: Artist's Studio and Art Supply Storage - Belinda Del Pesco

  2. Indeed..and his output is awesome! I’ll need a good amount of time to look through his videos ??

  3. Thanks for your excellent post..I particularly enjoyed the link to the talented Bob Burridge..What a great character..and terrific tutorial. Best wishes Dru

    1. Hi Drusilla, Isn’t Bob awesome!? His fervor to simply lay that color down, and quit fussing over details – but still keep the general composition intact is SUCH a good reminder!

  4. Deborah Later

    You are very wise. Your words are so true. My new space was missing the mixture of familiar smells, a mixture of almond tea, flowers and paint. Alas, the only way to fix that was to actually use the new space as I did the old one.
    It is a gradual process for sure.

    1. Hi Deborah, I hope you get a chance soon to go in an fluff the attraction of your art-making space, with fresh and potted flowers, a pot of tea, music, and a clean desk with a stack of art supplies and an empty, waiting canvas/paper.

  5. Thanks for the boost. I walk through my art space every day and don’t sit down. I think it needs a little comfort zone to attract me.

    1. Hi Meg, I hope you line that nest with all sorts of comfort, and it pulls you like a magnet towards your creative space. Arm wrestle yourself into that chair if you have to (at first), till it starts to feel just right. 🙂

  6. Oh! Brava! Brava! Belinda.
    We’ve been battling little black ants since before Christmas and the disruption has been/still is exactly like this. Factor in the multiple car parts stored in the office (and elsewhere) and I wonder if I’ll ever get any printing done.
    But this has given me greater focus. Thank you.

    1. Hi Diane, I’m sorry you’re getting intruded upon by ants & parts… those invasions on studio space & time are buckets of cold water on fired creativity. I hope you can carve out a little corner as a place of respite, and get your pens on paper again soon. I’m rooting for you from the Pacific coast, with pompoms and paint brushes!!

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