Today on Tuesday Tours I’m thrilled to showcase my friend Amy Ward! Amy’s Illinois basement studio is completely covered in her personal touches—from the faux brick painted walls, to the beautiful rug she created from painted rubber matts, each part of her space has been altered by her creative touch. What I love about Amy is she’s alway creating art out of things that are accessible—like using Crayola crayons and watercolors (tools of her trade as an art teacher) to make her beautiful illustrations. In addition to offering ideas on her blog, she’s published a number of how-to crafts in Family Fun magazine and soon Highlights magazine. Amy demonstrates that there’s no need to run out and spend hundreds of dollars on supplies to create a space, instead you just need a dash of creativity and a little elbow grease. It’s possible to make beautiful and sophisticated artwork out of classroom materials, or create functioning and attractive objects out of things around the house, and Amy is the perfect example of how to do it well.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I teach art to 3rd through 8th graders and I love the way they create and the mediums they use successfully. So crayon and watercolor were a natural choice for me. I love wax resist and the textures that can be created with it. And I love the fact that crayons and watercolor are accessible to everybody. Here is a project from my website that used crayon and watercolor for a project we do in my classroom.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process? I have had it for about three years now. It has streamlined my process because I no longer need to spend time cleaning up (see the picture of my messy art room below)! If I am trying a new technique with crayon and watercolor, I can play and experiment until I am tired and then I can just turn off the light. It’s kind of nice.
Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
Rituals? Not sure this is a ritual but I usually have to clean up some space so I will have room to create! Traditional art takes up a ton more room than digital!
What age did you become interested in art and who encouraged you to pursue your dream?
I think I was born with scissors, crayons, and paper. I remember making doll clothes on the sewing machine when I was 3 or 4. I remember doing art in kindergarten. We would do a project, and then I would re-create the project at home. I still have an arts and crafts book from second grade! I keep it in my book shelf in my art studio.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I LOVE the musical WICKED so I started collecting the happy meal toys with the Wizard of Oz characters. When I couldn’t get anymore, I went to Ebay to get the rest. Am I a good witch or a wicked witch? Depends on the day. But that musical inspires me.
What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
My paper cutter! I use it for my classroom, for decorating my house, (see amywardcreates.com) and making book dummies!
If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
Heat it better! In the winter, it is sooooo cold because the brick is actually the poured concrete wall for the basement. I actually painted it to look like old bricks. But I don’t want to insulate the room because I would have to say goodbye to the brick. So more heat would definitely be my improvement. Oh, that and paint the ceiling but leave it exposed.
What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space?
Take a look at my inspiration board above my sink. Those are my favorite colors. Pinks, greens, fushias, oranges, creams… my hues.
Which other artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Dan Santat, Will Terry, Jake Parker, Eric Carle, and Booke Boynton Hughes.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Put yourself into it. It doesn’t take a ton of money and do what you want, not what will fit with your house. My studio is in our basement. I put it together on the cheap. I painted the walls to look like brick, like a big city loft studio. I used up some of my old acrylics and painted an old kids’ play-mat with a giant rug on it! My husband, (bless him!) made my coffee table double as a storage for paper. See the big drawers? He also installed the wood walls…some warmth! The cabinets are stock cabinets from Menards that went on super sale one weekend. I bought cheap rag rugs ($2, I think) and sewed them together to make a rug for the entrance. I painted all the cabinets and put different pulls on each one. It really is my space.
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I am working on a tree frog book called Crunchy, Not Sweet and a new chameleon story that doesn’t have a name yet. Also, I started a comic called Frankie and Chip about a brother and sister and their competitive natures with each other. I have only done eight panels so far but those are on my website. Take a peak and leave a comment!
Thanks, Amy! I love your studio space and I’m looking forward to sharing a space with you when we bunk-up at the SCBWI LA conference this summer!
Join us in two weeks when author Sue Schmidt will be sharing her studio on her ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.
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