108 episodes

Artist Rebecca Crowell shares experiences and thoughts from three decades of painting, teaching and traveling, as well as her conversations with other artists. She is joined by her co-host, producer, and son, Ross Ticknor, who brings an entrepreneurial Millennial perspective. The conversations are broad and eclectic, focused on ideas, information and anecdotes that other artists may find helpful in their work and careers. A new episode is uploaded every Saturday!

The Messy Studio with Rebecca Crowell Rebecca Crowell

    • Arts

Artist Rebecca Crowell shares experiences and thoughts from three decades of painting, teaching and traveling, as well as her conversations with other artists. She is joined by her co-host, producer, and son, Ross Ticknor, who brings an entrepreneurial Millennial perspective. The conversations are broad and eclectic, focused on ideas, information and anecdotes that other artists may find helpful in their work and careers. A new episode is uploaded every Saturday!

    Episode 108: Ideas For Your Bookshelf

    Episode 108: Ideas For Your Bookshelf

    We talked last time about the role that art-related books play in the lives of artists, and the importance of continuing to educate ourselves in various ways. This week we turn our attention to the specific titles and authors recommended by Rebecca, as well as other artists who weighed in on our Facebook poll asking for input about significant art-related books. Many artists are very passionate about their books and recommendations, which were wide-ranging. Here is the complete list of the titles discussed in the episode:

    Art History/Art Movement related

    Kiki’s Paris: Artists and Lovers by Billy Klüver

    Overlay by Lucy Lippard

    3 books about abstraction:

    Pictures of Nothing (Kirk Varnedie)

    The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985

    Kandinsky’s Concerning The Spiritual in Art

    Contemporary art: My Art World (John Seed)

    Discovering the LA Art World by John Marcella Grant

    About or By Specific Artist’s work

    Ninth Street Women (Mary Gabriel)

    Artist bios by Ross King and Irving Stone (Agony and the Ecstasy) fictionalized

    Sean Scully Inner: collected writings and interviews

    Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon by Henry Martin

    Several books about Lawrence Carroll who died in 2019, influential abstract sculptor


    Hold Still by Sally Mann

    My Life by Isadora Duncan

    Just Kids by Patti Smith

    Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter

    Daybook by Anne Truit

    Turn by Anne Truit

    Prospect by Anne Truit

    Inspirational Books about Creative Process/Creativity in General

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

    The Alexandra Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

    Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

    A Gentle Plea for Chaos by Mirabel Osler

    Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe

    Free Play by Steven Nachmanovitch

    Niamh O’Conner’s YouTube recommendations:

    -Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland

    -Letters to a Young Artist: Straight Up Advice for making a Life in the Arts by Anna Smith Deavere. (Also one with the same title by Julia Cameron.)

    -What Would You Be If by Patricia Fitzgerald.

    Others also, watch on YouTube.

    World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down by Christian McEwen

    Trust the Process by Shawn McNiff

    Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

    Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley

    Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone

    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edward

    Other Inspirational Books on Art, Life

    Dancing With the Gods by Kent Nerbaum

    The Invisible Embrace of Beauty by John O’Donohue

    The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty by Soetsu Yanagi

    Technical Info and Background—

    Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

    A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finey

    Living Craft: A Painter’s Process by Tad Spurgeon

    How to Write About Contemporary Art by Gilda Williams

    Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin

    This is just a random sample of artists who saw and responded to my Facebook post but hopefully we have given you some ideas for excellent new reading material. Art books especially heavily illustrated ones tend to be expensive, so it’s a good idea to check sources for used books including the used listings on Amazon and other online sources like Abe Books. And of course, it’s great to share your books but put your name inside and check up on the loan before too long—there are many tales of woe of books loaned to other artists that became buried in someone’s messy studio.

    • 33 min
    Episode 107: The Importance Of Art Books

    Episode 107: The Importance Of Art Books

    In December of 2019, Rebecca posed a question on Facebook for the artists who follow her page. She asked, “I’d love to hear about art books you recommend -- those you keep close at hand, have helped you in some way, broaden your perspective, and/or just make a good read or a visual feast. I would define “art books” as anything related to art forms, artists, art movements, creativity, or anything that has inspired your work.”

    There were dozens of replies, covering a broad range of topics, which was somewhat unexpected. Rebecca had assumed that there would be a handful of repeated titles mentioned--well known, familiar, and often referenced books that could be considered a canon from which artists could draw knowledge and inspiration. But clearly, those who responded were inspired and intrigued by a wide variety of topics and genres, and are probably representative of artists in general. Rebecca decided the best way to talk about artists' love of books was to organize the titles that were mentioned into broad categories. The specific titles are also important, and we will discuss those in our next podcast. For now, however, our focus will be the roles these books play in creative life.

    Many artists have enormous collections of art-related books. These collections are an investment in the growth of an artist’s creativity and career. They demonstrate curiosity and a desire for deeper understanding. Some artists joke that collecting books is a bit of an addiction. Even a small collection of relevant books can have a profound impact on your thoughts and intentions, and can help us understand our own work, as well as other’s work better.


    • 32 min
    Episode 106: Interview With Betsy Williams - The Microseasons Project

    Episode 106: Interview With Betsy Williams - The Microseasons Project

    In today's episode, Rebecca interviews New Mexico artist Betsy Williams about her work and recently published book.


    Special Guest: Betsy Williams.

    • 39 min
    Episode 105: Why Walk?

    Episode 105: Why Walk?

    While this may seem to be an odd topic for the Messy Studio, it is something that is important to Rebecca's creative life and that of many other artists. Walking has numerous and well-known benefits for physical and mental health, but what can it contribute to our lives as artists? In this episode, we explore walking as one of the ways that daily life and art are integrated.

    There are many parallels between walking and the creative process. Walking is a slow, potentially meditative activity that helps us to be present and to pay attention to the visual world. And as with the creative process, we feel free to explore, ramble, and focus on the journey itself rather than a particular destination. In addition, we gradually gain stamina and confidence in our ability to keep going. Overcoming resistance to going out for a walk helps strengthen other good hablits, like going to the studio even when you don't feel like it.

    it's true that many of us have limitations on walking--physical, seasonal, or geographic. But it is not about how far, fast, or often you go. If walking is a possibility, it is one of the best ways to bring mind, body, and spirit into alignment. For artists and creatives, there is another dimension to walking in its ability to bolster your creativity and skills useful in your art practice.


    • 28 min
    Episode 104: Questions And The Creative Process

    Episode 104: Questions And The Creative Process

    The questions we ask ourselves as artists are at the root of the creative process. As artists we are driven by the unknown. Contemplating various possibilities brings energy and change to our work. It keeps our work dynamic, and exciting, and it keeps us engaged in the creative process.

    These questions may be big or small. Where is a particular piece heading? What “works”, and what does not? When is a piece finished? There are also deeper questions about our overall practice and direction. These questions play an important role in our work, and in developing a personal voice.

    If we are not asking questions, it can only mean that we are completely satisfied with our work, which is seldom the case. We can always be asking the question “what happens next?” or “how did I arrive at this point?” When we stop asking questions, we are halting the creative process and stagnating. At this point it is easy to become bored, and for the quality of work to suffer.

    Some of the best questions to ask start with “what if”. These questions are basic to finding your way into a process that works for you. We may not even be conscious of these questions, or put them into words, though it is not a bad idea to do so. A good idea is to keep a log or journal of your creative activities. You may wish to take notes as you work, but if this is disruptive to your process try taking a few minutes at the end of your day to write down any fresh insights.

    Our work is built on the gradual accumulation of knowledge that arises from asking questions. Try putting a little more intention into these questions. Think about the questions you have asked in the past, the ones that you are currently asking, and the direction of your work. As you think about these questions more consciously, your work will gain depth, meaning, and complexity.


    • 30 min
    Episode 103: Intuitive Color

    Episode 103: Intuitive Color

    Intuitive Color

    Color is a very powerful influence in our everyday lives, and certainly in our art. It is the most studied of the visual elements by experts outside of the field of art--in biology, psychology, and in cultural studies, to name a few. As artists, we may work with color in an intuitive way, or more intellectually-- each of us finding a way that suits us. There is no single correct system for using color. Our individual approach is linked to our own characters and personalities, and is often a strong aspect of our personal visual voice.

    How important is it to study and apply color theory and systems? Although a basic introduction to color is standard in art school courses, Rebecca attended several different schools and somehow missed this part of the cirriculum. As a result, her approach to color is mostly intuitive, developed over time through practice and observation. Trial and error builds experience, and only through experience can we really grasp the intricacies of color.

    Many self-taught artists feel insecure about color because they are aware of the scientific and technical aspects of color, and feel it is something that must be studied at length as one normally does in art school. It is true that the formulas and systems for color mixing can be fascinating. There is a rich history of color, paint, and pigment throughout history. Also, some art media require specific knowledge for layering colors, such as watercolor or printmaking. But intuitive use of color can also be very effective especially when combined with some very basic information and vocabulary that is easily studied, along with awarenss of what your intentions are regarding color.

    In spite of the dramatic impact color has on our work, we can easily become habitual in our use of color, and fail to be led by intutiion into more effective ways of using it. One tip is to notice which colors move and affect you, which may be different than the ones you find appealing and use most often. Many people speak of "my colors" but these may not be the ones that provide contrast or depth for on the work. Do some experimenting and exploring with colors that challenge you or excite you. Consider what your color choices communciate to others and whether or not that is what you want to convey. Are there some changes, even small ones, that could bring another level of meaning to your work?


    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

messystudent ,

The Messy Studio

Always such wise words from Rebecca.

Pulgacitanumber ,


Love listening to Rebecca and her son, good practical advice from an amazing artist!

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