Armchair Studio


Some people make art daily in their lives. They are not necessarily art teachers or professional artists, but they make everything around their lives more beautiful by just living. A little illustration on the outside of a box you get in the mail, vignettes around their home, the way a table is set or food is served, and the list goes on. Several years ago, a dear friend and mentor, Lynda Letey passed away. When I went to her home in Phoenix after the service, I was especially touched by a little table next to her favorite armchair. Nestled on the small table, was a perfect basket filled with colored pencils and brushes, and beside the basket and her Bible was a sketchbook. I thought back to all the lovely notes I had received from her that included her illustrations which have always been treasures to me.

We tell our students that in order to improve their art, they need to make art and keep visual journals outside of the time they spend in the art classroom. But how many of us practice this as well? “Use it or lose it,” is a mantra that also applies to art educators. I know that unless I have an upcoming exhibit or a teaching workshop, I am spending little time in my studio upstairs and more time in my favorite chair watching British mysteries on Netflix with my family. So, I decided to set up a portable studio next to my chair, so that I will practice what I preach to my students.


I keep an assortment of supplies accessible, such as my Windsor Newton Travel Palette, a small jar of water, an inspirational magazine, an assortment of brushes, markers, drawing pens, colored pencils, drawing supplies, a set of watercolor cards and envelopes, a small pad of watercolor postcards and my sketchbook. I use images that I have taken on my cell phone for references, work from a small still life, or I just paint designs. Sometimes, I keep these small studies to send as cards to friends and family or to frame and give as gifts. One Christmas, I hand painted 350 Holiday cards and at our open house, I let everyone select a card-size painting as a parting gift. 


I am finding that the convenience and accessibility of these supplies inspires me to build a healthy habit of making art every day. And every day, I am reclaiming a personal love for making art. This enthusiasm cannot help but trickle into my teaching. Sometimes I will share with students what I am painting from this little nook. Hopefully my practice will inspire them as well to make art daily in their lives.