My Utopian Art Studio – searching for ideas

Following on from my previous post, I have researched more into the topic of Utopia and grasping the concept of an ecological utopia.  This could incorporate concepts such as organic architecture or lifestyles that are both more a kin to living in harmony with nature, and less dependent on western urbanization and into a more traditional way of living. Now this, I can resonate with.

Intentional communities all over the world are generally based on the utopian concept, which is improving the way humans live together. Members of these secular communities consisting of communes, farms, retreats and gypsy travelers of society have intentions of living the ideal lifestyle, in hope of peace and harmony with their neighbours and the land that provides for them.

When asked to imagine my ideal art studio within the sub-brief given in this project, my mind quickly led down a path that resonates with the utopian values of these traditional ways of living.  I considered how I might like to step into my teepee each morning to begin the day’s creative work in meditative communion with my creator, or a tree-house loft where I can retreat completely into the natural surroundings that nourish and sustain me.  However, my creative self preferred the idea of having a gypsy caravan wagon converted into an art studio and parked permanently in my home garden.  This utopian vision is influenced by my love of the bohemian style, colours, textiles and the simple life that gypsies embrace.  After being inspired by the eclectic vintage, rustic and contemporary designs of wagons and small dwellings (my favourite aspects seen above in these examples), I set off to design and build a model of my first visionary structure using wood as the media.

Small rooms or dwellings set the mind on the right path, large ones cause it to go astray – Leonardo de Vinci


Richardson, P. (2007). XS Green: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. London: Thames & Hudson.


Survival Skills as a provincial Artist – wise words from Richard Parker

Visit Richard Parkers latest exhibition in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Visit Richard Parkers latest exhibition in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Each week at Ideaschool, where I study Arts and Design, all are welcome to the ‘Friday Lunchbox’. The Friday Lunchbox is an hour of our school day (during lunch) where a speaker from the arts community gives a presentation based on their field of expertise.  This weeks ‘Lunchbox’ featured New Zealand’s acclaimed and influential ceramic artist Richard Parker, and he passed on some very wise words regarding how provincial artists can survive by a list of simple methods that he has developed through his 30 years as a successful practicing artist.

I want to share with you the tips that I felt the strongest response to, and I hope that they also spark something for you in your creative endeavors.



  • Get your hands straight into it at the beginning of the day to avoid procrastination
  • Set 3 small tasks each day to accomplish, rather than an over ambitious ‘to do’ list
  • Start work early, after having attained quality sleep the night before. It is said that the best restorative sleep one can have is before the clock strikes midnight
  • Use simple daily affirmations – morning and night
  • Support your dealers
  • Care for your customers
  • Have professional images taken of your works, as only good images get published
  • Keep CV up to date and looking good
  • Never give up
  • Make little positive changes every day
  • Develop a healthy relationship with money, and be good at asking for it
  • Money sustains us. Develop a healthy relationship with money. Don’t be afraid to state your worth
  • Consider your artist statement carefully, drawing inspiration from your visual diary and keeping words to three paragraphs maximum
  • Think globally!
  • Avoid spending time with people who have negative and self-destructive attitudes or behaviours
  • Avoid overeating. It dulls the mind and spirit. Avoid sugar. Stay sharp.
  • Avoid fear. Face it head on and watch it disappear
  • Develop a technique for handling rejection

The most significant influence that Richard Parker made for me, was the reminder to put my creative life first and foremost. In doing so, I am able to sustain my own life forces and be a better mother and partner as a result. If I am happy, then the family will be happy also. Richard referred to Art as our ‘life blood’, and making art must be a priority in life, not one to be left until you have enough time. So tonight, I happily leave the dishes in the sink knowing that I will sleep easier once I have taken the time to feed my creative soul.

the artful life of Susan Tuttle

‘An Artful Life’ is a regular post I will be featuring in my blog, highlighting an artist who I am inspired by or can draw research from in some shape or form.  I wish to thank each and every artist who has planted a creative seed for me over the years.  Today I wish to share with you a recent gem that I have discovered in my reading – Susan Tuttle.

This mother of two is a self taught photographer, digital artist, internationally recognised iphoneographer and author to many books including ‘Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements’ and ‘Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations & Explorations’ In addition, she has featured extensively in various Visual Art magazines and journals and she is known for her online photography and Photoshop workshop tutorials.

For Tuttle, her main priority is her family life, a realm that includes DIY projects, homesteading, gardening and artful projects where she encourages her children to explore and create their own art. Living in the woods of rural Maine, America, she enjoys a simple life in the natural surroundings she chooses to live in.  I am inspired by her beliefs in regards to creativity, which reflect my own understanding of it. Placing importance upon one’s need to create as being a vital element for well-being.  As a mother, I can easily relate to how Tuttle integrates her creative spirit into family life; having ideas gushing out when doing the ordinary household chores like hanging out the washing, which is often when my best ideas crop up. Because ideas crop up when one least expects them, Tuttle has several notebooks scattered around the house, so that she may find any one of them swiftly to capture the ideas that come in the moment (I have four books on the go to store ideas that need to escape my constantly generating mind – now I feel a little bit normal). I feel a artistic motherly kinship with Tuttle reading about her creative space, which she enters upon settling the children into bed each night. She has her studio filled with all the things she loves from, vintage books, antiques, to art works of her own and others. In a ritualistic way that honours her creative spirit, she begins her evenings in the studio by lighting a candle, popping her favourite playlist on and has a glass of wine and her secret lollie stash awaiting consumption. This simple act of beginning her work inspires me to give my creative time more dedication and consciousness attended to it.

Tuttle’s art has been exhibited in galleries within the United States and abroad, and can be found in private collections worldwide. Her work has strong compositions and themes of light and shadow play, color, texture, and design. I am particularly drawn to the way she gives an image textural scratches and layers worn and transparent to portray a dreamy, timeless, otherworldly appearance. Tuttle makes her works from whatever needs to be expressed from her heart and mind at any given moment. Within her intentions to create, she aims to give a visual story for the viewer to consider, not giving too much away herself, rather letting the viewers imagine their own story.  Although many of her mobile photography works are self-portraits, she considers her body to be no more than a model. The shape of which becomes transformed into another being –  a spirit. As a woman after my own heart she says…

“I rely mostly on my inner knowings when I take pictures — shooting from the gut, most likely breaking all the rules:) When I see something special I wish to capture, I can literally feel my heart rise in my chest. I follow those gut instincts. Not to say that I don’t think about composition, color, tonal value, etc. — I certainly do and am meticulous about these aspects, but I seem to generally follow an internal set of rules as opposed to ones that have been imposed upon me.”

and she continues…

“I must make art — it brings me much joy and oftentimes provides a safe haven where I can work out life’s challenges. I am addicted to the artistic process and love getting lost in the passion of creating something. With art in my life I feel like a whole person, and without it I know I would be lost”.

Tuttle dedicates a lot of her energy to share with others her craft through teaching. She sees it as a worthy contribution with “potential to make a difference to the world”, believing that when one is connected to their creative spirit and creating art, then the individual may experience greater peace for himself and that of the world. A woman definitely worth admiring!


Caves, E. (2013). Storytellers – Woodland by Susan Tuttle. Retrieved from

Caves, E. (2013). Featured Artist – Susan Tuttle. Retrieved from

Cole, S. (2010). The Artistic Mother: a Practical Guide for Fitting Creativity into your Life. North Light Books. Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tuttle, S. (2013). Susan Tuttle Photography + Art + Life. Retrieved from




Welcome to my Home

This is my physical space in the world.  In the rural countryside of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, I live on a 12 acre shared property with 2 other families, our 4 dogs, 3 cows (one of which provides us with our daily delicious milk), a dozen chickens (whose eggs we consume with gratitude) and their rooster man, 50 alpacas (or so) including 9 new babies, and a miniature horse who runs the whole show. My partner, I and our 7 year old son live in a small board and batten home built by our neighbour, right smack in the middle of the farm. We get to enjoy all the benefits of farm life without working it.  Thank goodness! The hard work is carried out by the owners, who kindly have us living here as their tenants and close knit community.  It’s very important to me to have natural surroundings where I live. The moments that I have lived in suburbia, I have never quite settled as happily as I do when I have large open spaces around me. I can breathe more comfortably out here, without the traffic and hum of town or city life.  We like to call this is our ‘little spot of paradise’.

My even littler spot of paradise is my stand alone studio that is a skip, hop and a jump away from the house. As I walk past my handmade toadstools, may child self knows its time to come out to play. It is here that I escape from my household chores and have a space completely devoted to me and my creativity. I am surrounded by many books and little knick knacks that inspire me in some way.  The cows and horse are chewing grass out the window, the alpaca babies are chasing each other merrily. This place is my sanctuary. My awaiting water colour pencils are my trusted tools for making marks, as is my journal and ink nibbed pen for writing my innermost thoughts.  I write as a way to download thoughts, ideas, fears, frustrations, and epiphanies so that my mind can maintain some from of sanity. When I don’t write, I go mad.  There is only so much information that I can retain in that wee cavity that is my mind. It is the nature of me to have my head in the clouds and too far removed from physical reality, and it’s important for me to practice ways of keeping me grounded – another reason to be close to nature and the animals.  It is said that a few moments in a paddock with the alpacas, will give you the good vibes that of which you would get from swimming with a pod of dolphins. No wonder I love it here!

'Jerry' is the smallest and latest edition to the farm

‘Jerry’ is the smallest and latest edition to the farm at just two days old!

Toadstools growing right outside my studio door
Toadstools growing right outside my studio door

My private window from my desk looking out into my world and a day bed for day dreaming.

My private window from my desk looking out into my world and a day bed for day dreaming.

All too often my family find me cramming up the dining table with my stuff, and blurring the boundaries of my studio space.

All too often my family find me cramming up the dining table with my stuff, and blurring the boundaries of my studio space.