Over 50 Contemporary Artists Share Their Studio Rituals

What makes artists tick inside the studio?

A few weeks ago, I asked many artists in my Facebook wall if they have a studio ritual to help them get started? The answers of over 50 artists are below (published with their consent). Everything from coffee, music to sleeping is included in their responses. Some answers will surprise you! Read, enjoy and share your very own studio rituals in the comments section.


Rachel Garrard

I wake up, do yoga, meditate, have breakfast, then have a strong espresso while sitting alone with my sketchbook for an hour or so going through all of my notes, inspiration and ideas, connecting to the flow of my work and adding new thoughts before starting to work in the studio.

Sergio Gomez

The first thing I do when I walk in the studio is move stuff around. Reorganize something for a few minutes before I start doing something else. Sort of like cleaning but without the cleaning part. Lol

Brandon Graving

Yes, I begin in a similar way! Ideally most tools and equipment were cleaned the previous day …. so I move them around to organize for next stage, make Fabulous coffee in a special/specific cup and then spend time looking at work, evaluate recent decisions and actions …. then Go!

John H. Kirkpatrick Jr.

Put in my painting shoes and music

Beth Lowell

It’s an interesting question. I read Daily Rituals about famous artists’ rituals. My illustration teacher in college, Baron Storey would do something shocking like smash a bottle of ink, or give away his motorbike, or other things he would come to regret. I know artists like P.C. Turczyn who literally meditate before each brush stroke when painting her works of nature and sacred geometry. I have to say I have absolutely no ritual, other than going upstairs to my studio, turning my phone on to Pandora, often the Moby station. That’s it. Just paint.

Michael Van Zeyl

Night before I plan what I will be painting in the studio the next day.
Drop off son at bus stop
Go to Gym
Ice coffee w/ mocha, Social media & emails
10:00 Prepare Palette
Paint till 4:15 – pick up son
Administrative work
Clean brushes

Anke Korioth

Put on my apron and select my music!

Steven DaLuz

I move things where I want them, put some nasty shoes on, and painting shirt (also nasty), and crank up some music. I put paint on my pallette, then, I sit down and look at whatever I worked on the day before. I look for up to 20- 30 mins.

Lea Goldman

I need to secure serious block of time to paint. Then I disconnect myself from the world, and paint several canvases at the same time. Since I paint in layers, the group is slowly evolving. When is calls itself a name I know I’m done, and can rest.

Jeff Hirst

Make some coffee, check my email, then get going.

Patricia Hendricks Constantine

Sit in my comfy studio chair look at what I have on the wall and look through my sketchbooks making notes/lists of what I want to accomplish. Allows me to let everything else go except my work. Love this feeling almost hypnotic.

Leisa Shannon Corbett

One of my daily morning rituals is to check my calendar and Facebook to see who has a birthday that day. I send cards via Facebook or the Inkly app to my art collectors, family, and friends. I want my art collectors to feel they are important and that I value them.

Fabrizzio Ceppi

The first thing i like to do is to prepare a nice cup of good damn coffee, sit down and watch whatever i think that will help me to focus that day. Then i start mixing colours, trying to think my first move, making some mental notes, wich includes do’s and dont’s based in the last sessions.

Barbara Leahy-Edwards

Turn on music and just let it happen.

Vicky Lentz

The funniest thing that grounds me in my studio ritual is to sweep the outdoor stairs up to the studio before I start my work. Never fails to bring my focus into the studio. :)

Jeanette Díaz

First thing I do when I walk into my studio building is a take a walk around my building and see who is in the building. I like to know who is there, so I am not startled if I bump into someone when leave my private studio to use the common sink etc. I will change into paint covered clothes/shoes and I cover my sofa and chairs with a cloth tarp to protect them. I set up my play list according to my mood, then decide if I will paint near the window or in another area in my studio. I will then I move things around to accommodate that decision, clean my brushes and adjust my lighting. I will typically paint on two – three canvases, rotating them depending on the color and/or level of drying time from my last painting session.

Scarlett Ministero-Decker

I always mop the floors. This is kind of bizarre because the floor will be clean in order for me to make a big mess! I don’t know why I do this.

LuEllen Joy Miller-Giera

I’m primarily a collage artist right now. If I get stuck, I go through all my ephemera and the next thing you know I’m creating.

Rich Anderson

I wear specifc clothes that I have previously “ruined.” Then I have to put on music to get the correct side of my brain working. I also have to make sure I have laid out the materials I am going to use. Nothing is more annoying than having to stop and search for something.

Norbert Marszalek

Burn some incense and do a quick gratefulness meditation

Kathleen Isacson

First, I review sketches and “curate” my studio time by having my reference sources available to inform me through the space I’m working in. For me, this typically means I’ll have specific literary sources on hand, assorted low-tech/hi-tech tools and have a music playlist that’s appropriate for the series or piece. One aspect of the mark-making element in my work relates to the physical manifestation of sound and it’s psychological impact. Therefore, painting demands music, always.

Stacie Johnson

First thing I do is order food delivery. That makes me feel calm and secures the fact that I can be there comfortably for a good bit of time.

Camille Iemmolo

Music & Music. And if working from home- I play my drums in my basement ⚡️💥🥁

Bojana Ilic-Bojitt

Like with any creative idea execution is – break I down to a small steps.
-turn off 🙂
-furn on the music
-move things around
-make a coffee tea or water(your drink)
-get materials ready
-do it!

Joanne Mattera

Perhaps because I worked a 9-5 for 20 years, I developed the ability to start working the moment I turned the key to my studio. So I just enter and get to work, even now that I am in the studio full time. I’m aware that something “clicks” when I enter my work space, but I don’t parse it because I don’t want to disturb it.

Jane Elizabeth Fisher

Prepare a clean palette, turn on Forensic Files, put on my nitrile gloves and go or “Cold Case Files” if it’s on!

Haley Mellin I

Get in bed.

Claudia Henao

First thing I do is: put on my apron, some music, make coffee, take pictures for my social media and start to work.
Lately the first thing I do, is open the window and let the fresh air come in. It is awesome the feeling to do that here in Florida after the heat of the last months, just breath and breath…🙏🏼LOVE IT!!!

Ed Valentine

Sergio, I have come to realize that you need to trick your psychology a bit in order to get back into it. I teach, I run a gallery, I have a life outside of each and I have a studio practice. Each of those things poke at a different part of my brain. It is absolutely necessary to reboot as I switch gears and move from one to the other. There are certain things that I do in my studio that I do not do in any other of those activities. I have a friend who has a specific hat that he wears only in his studio and no place else. I have an apron. It sounds a little crazy but… as I said, you trick your psychology a bit. Hemingway would leave a sentence unfinished, a paragraph half done, when he came back to it, he knew what needed to be done. A very practical thing had to be finished and then… he was off to the races.

Donna Bliss

My cats always jump on my studio table especially if I’m working with pieces of wire. My stash of pipe cleaners are next to my table, so I make them toys to distract them, then get on with my new piece.

Micah James Zayner

My unorthodox virtual reality studio necesitates the same routine of switches and button presses for it to get up and running. Lightswitch, power button on computer, power button on camera, Left power strip on, right power strip on. Lights, camera, headset and remotes beneath me. I slip into virtual reality and nothing else matters.

Jill McLean

Believe it or not, it’s a secret! 😀 Quite awhile ago, I determined that my process is so personal and special, that to lay it out to the public would diffuse its power. ❤️ I also having a closing ritual that is very similar!

Nancy Charak

Coffee, put water in dog’s bowl, put on scuzzy studio clothes, usually I leave the next blank sheet for a drawing taped and ready on the table. Dive in.
Malado Francine Meditate 🙂

Judith Joseph

Coffee, walk dog (walking gets my creative juices flowing). Once back at the studio, I clear off my drafting table. I like a tidy work space. I burn sage. I take out my sketchbook and a sharpened pencil. Before I begin to draw, I say a Hebrew prayer of thanksgiving, for being alive and free and arriving at the moment when I can make something new.

Nancy Charak

A shehekyanuu.

Blossom Verlinsky

After a large cup of Cappuccino – I wander into my studio – pick a tube of paint, squeeze out a little acrylic – pick up a brush and plunge right in – no real plans, just start seeing where the paint wants to go. After a half hour – stand up, walk around – sit down and take a look from a distance. Then pick another tube of paint and repeat. Any color can work depending on how much and where you put it. It is such a joy to look at the colors and add more colors to them. The images just appear on the canvas – I don’t have a plan – I am just reactive. After a few hours of walking around, sitting and contemplating and painting it’s time for some sustenance. Then return to studio for more of this wonderful ritual.

Farhana Akhter

I usually have a picture in my mind of what I would like to create whether a sculpture or painting. I select music that seems to fit the mood. Usually without any words or down tempo music to change the atmosphere and be more introspective. Then I start off by organizing my studio space and laying out all that I need to execute. I have limited time but I find this to be a good strategy to transition from day to day to creative mode.

Frank Fitzgerald

I use my turntable and put the needle on a good vinyl album….

Rachael Vische

Sit at the wheel and admire the big windows in my new studio. Try to sense the life of the plants, and the warmth of the sun. If it’s dark, light a candle. A few deep breaths. Smell the clay. Feel the warm water and clay moving under my hands, and wait a few precious moments before beginning the dance of throwing…

Meg Frazier

I walk in. 5 days, 40 hours a week, I just walk in and see what comes to life. No ritual is the same to me as the magic that happens when I show up and practice hoping for a happy accident or mental boost in the meantime!

Jan Glazar

Silencing cel phone – and music!

Nancy Bea Miller

I make myself a cup of tea and take it upstairs to the studio. While I am fixing the tea I am deliberately shutting down all the open “windows” in my mind, one by one, getting ready to be in the studio.

Serena Bocchino

I turn on some great jazz tunes…

Andrea Ferrigno

Empty dehumidifier, plug in lamp, fresh water for my brushes, turn music on, crack open sparkling water, paint for hours.

Mark Zlotkowski

It if it’s dark then lights are on, if it’s a bright morning then lights are off- other than that its rarely ever the same. Sometimes I dive right in other times I just sit and stare and do nothing. I never know what it will be like. Sometimes music, sometimes silence, sometimes the sound of birds chirping or that of a freight train rushing past. I love hearing how others approach it. I have so much ‘routine’ in my life with teaching and two teenagers that I try to keep my process as far away from routine as possible- always a journey never a job.

Jessica Ann Wagner

Burn lavender incense, light a candle, set my creative intention.

Ted Gordon

I draw & paint every day at lunch. My space is tucked into a far corner of my game studio. It’s both private and has great natural light. I close the door and turn on my space heater. I start a podcast to keep me company and know when I need to return to the digital world. Whatever I’m listening to becomes tied to my artwork. Today’s portrait of a woman with a carnival mask was paired with the history of the New England Vampire Panic.

Kyrin Ealy Hobson

I have a green iron bell hanging from my ceiling. I ring it to summon creativity.

Judith Peck

It helps me to prepare the next days work the night before. I go over what I want to do and have it up on the easel and in my minds eye, so in the morning I have a clear path.

Camilla Fallon

I either seem to go right to it, if I can’t I stew. Then, I try listening to music, sorting brushes and/or cleaning my palette.

Julia Haw

I organize and get a fresh palette set up according to what I will be painting that day. I set a timer for the hours I will be completing on my iPhone. Anytime I take a break I press pause on the timer so I don’t cheat myself of one minute. Then I setup youtube to continuously play educational or interesting videos. Cheers!!

Sarvin Haghighi Culley

As soon as I get to my studio space, I turn on my music, put my phone on silent and away from where I will be working..as my tea is getting prepared, I meditate for about 15 minutes. Highly recommend it. It has made a huge difference for me personally. Most of the times, after meditation, I kind of gather my thoughts on the creation process…

Doug Sandelin

Coffee, load music usually heavy or progressive metal and a bit of dance

Geraldine Rodriguez

I always listen to a song on repeat to get me going! I heard that jackson pollock listened to Beethoven symphonys over and over again on his record player while he painted.

John Dingler

I am currently engaged in six art projects. Five consist of Individual series of approx. 11 to 30 each. One is a construction, three are paintings, and two are photographic. One is a revisit where I decided to add an additional work to the series so, while I thought I was through with it. I have no start-up ritual, none whatsoever; I simply resume where I left off. Effortless. I am always in a mode of resumption of a project, either the art itself or its promotion or shipping or delivery arrangements. My art projects run in parallel, I.e. concurrently. Some dovetail each other; As one nears completion, another becomes more prominent, taking up more of my time in the areas of concept development, preparation of materials and, in the case of the construction, I am trying to determine what supplies and technical methods of execution I would need to employ.

Didi Menendez

I throw art away at least once a year.

Romana Brunnauer

My ritual is very simple: I fill three buckets with water. Then I take a few minutes time to look at the work I did the day before – and then I continue.


What makes you tick inside the studio? Share your own rituals in the comments below!


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7 Replies to “Over 50 Contemporary Artists Share Their Studio Rituals”

  1. Before chronic pain got in the way I would always clean and reorganize my studio. Find some distractions like dishes and vacuuming then prepare my canvas, make a coffee. I often listen to Radio Paradise on my computer. Now I have to conserve my energy and if my back doesn’t hurt too much, decide on how much time I can get out of it at the easel.

  2. I always try to move into the next phase at the close of one day: sit down and look at what I did, plan what to do next, prepare the materials. That way when I enter the studio the next day, all I do is go to work (after coffee, exercise, breakfast, shower.)

  3. Grab a coffee my husband made for me’ get in the studio, put on music – dance with the music, clean my brushes, start painting. Depending on my mood, I would change the music or I would listen to podcasts – some of my favorite podcasts – savvy painter, artists helping artists and recently discovered artNxtlevel podcast and still catching up on the list! Thank you for the great podcasts!

  4. Dancing to whatever music is currently moving me (right now, that would be Krishna Das kirtan music), until I’m in what my spouse calls a “fugue state”… then, images just flow off my palette knife and brush….

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