One of Elizabeth’s abstract paintings hangs in her home-studio
Today’s studio sneek peek is inside Charleston painter Elizabeth McKeever’s spaces. Elizabeth and I met about a year ago when I first moved to Charleston and reached out to form a local SCAD alumni group. She works with both abstracts paintings and more representational ‘objects’ such as landscapes and plein aire portraits at weddings! She works out of her home and a studio garage space as well as work “in the field”. I love this statement from her website; “I always return to paintings of objects from my life because my most profound realizations are often derived through everyday experience.” Well, that’s esactly what we are exploring in this series of interviews and I’m so excited to share a little bit of your process of working as an artist and how organizing both challenges you and helps to propel your creativity!
HKPS::Have you always known you were an artist?
EM:: I didn’t consider pursuing it as a serious career until after I was in college.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with?
EM::All, but primarily with oil paints for my fine art work, and latex based for commercial work.
HKPS::Where do you make Art and how big is your studio?
EM::I work in primarily two locations. My home office/studio is where I do most of my painting – but storage for supplies and larger projects also takes up half my garage.
HKPS::Do you consider yourself to be an organized person?
EM::Organization is critical to me, but challenging. I know that some of the problem is not factoring in time to restore ‘order.’ I find it draining when it gets messy. That’s part of the reason I have housekeepers who come twice a week.
HKPS::How or where did you learn your organizing habits and systems?
EM::I took a seminar from the Franklin Planner company as a high school student. Since then I’ve always made goal planning a part of my life. I have learned a lot from Julie Morgenstern and Stephen Covey.
HKPS::What creative cycles of organization/dis-organization affect your process? What are your observations about the process?
EM::My oil painting process is the neatest – probably because I work primarily in one location with it, and when I do paint at events or away from home, I have a very minimal set of items that are easy to transport and return.
I cannot focus unless things are put away but I have to continually remind myself that it is a working space – it’s not going to look perfect. Sometimes my six year old son will be in the studio with me and will add to the chaos (see the paperclips in the photo below hanging from my pencils? – his work!).
HKPS::Do you ever have problems locating specific materials you want to use?
EM::Tape measures, archived images and anything involving paperwork!
HKPS::Do you purge or declutter your supply stash on a regular basis (due to space or other constraints)?
EM::Earlier in my career I would save all kinds of ‘stuff’ because I knew I could use it to create something. Now I prefer to have more space and less ‘stuff.’ Plus I have the luxury of being able to buy something when and if I happen to need it. I purge every few weeks, but will do a major overhaul at least once a year. The studio is a fluid space. Storing large paintings also used to be a nightmare because I would have to shuffle items around on the walls of my house! I’ve managed to resolve that a bit by allocating space within where some large items might go. (like above my sofa)
HKPS::Do you have any systems, tools or tips for staying organized you would like to share?
EM::I use an online database system called Basecamp so that I can share project information with my gallery and my other clients and we can comment on the same project. For commercial work with Stealth I’ve organized all my paints by color. I also use Google Calendar.
HKPS::Do you give much thought to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall artistic legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records? If not why?
EM::Yes, I do give it a lot of thought but I also find it is also important for my own development. Being able to see old work and organize it categorically has helped me learn more about underlying themes and refine my artist statements.
Thank you so much Elizabeth for inviting us into your studio, providing us with the photo’s and explaining the way that organizing affects you as a working artist. Please check out her website for more information on her services and portfolio of work! I’ll be back with another artist ‘Inside the Studio‘ feature next month! If you missed any of my previous Inside the Studio posts please go back and take a look!
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!