The Color of Real-World Studios

Have you ever gazed at images of perfect studios? You know the ones in magazines that are impossibly beautiful and organized? I often wonder about the palette (wall colors, not painter’s tool…) chosen and whether it fosters creativity or is distracting. Does it compete with the art making and finished art or highlight it?

One of the most viewed blog posts I’ve ever written was on the color of one’s studio and which colors facilitate creativity. I was building my own studio at the time and doing research. In the end, I went with white walls and a neutral floor color. Everything in my studio is white or natural wood, even the curtains are a natural and restful blue. Except that it isn’t. My studio is a cornucopia of texture, color and projects (or a rampant mess, depending on my mood…)  I’ve got photos, artwork, inspiration, supplies, books, stacks, etc. adding color everywhere. I suppose you could say that my studio is actually every colored.

As an extension of the original post, which you’ll find here: While We’re Talking Paint Colors, I asked artists that I know through the Bay Area Book Artists about their studios and colors they’ve chosen, or not, and why. Here, in no particular order, are their replies.


My studio is blue based purple tinted out to a lilac color for walls and trim.  Grey based white ceiling to reflect light back down into space, and flooring a light green.  There are accent colors in all of the colors of the spectrum introduced in art work and assemblage pickings.  Surrounding rooms are a saturated grey because it is wonderful to display artwork on.  - Rhonda L.

white walls

1. My studio, as well as my entire living space, has white walls. I respond to emptiness, which white represents for me. The invitation of emptiness allows me to put up drawings, paintings, pieces of ephemera, words, and photographs that provide stimulation for creativity. 2. I feel that my creativity stems from a quiet center, and in order to have that quiet center, I need an interesting visual space. It’s almost as if the first creative act is to take the white walls, and begin a “room collage” of imagery that appeals to me, and once I’m ensconced in the arms of the imagery, my deepest creative place gets activated. This may look like clutter to others, but there is purpose, movement, order and balance to my eyes, and this is how I journey back to my center.  - Karen K.


My studio walls are the color of leaves with a cream ceiling. My studio has windows on two walls and looks out on to the garden.  I like the sense of working in the great outdoors, it makes me happy.  That being said, the walls have lots of art, books and stuff on them, so the true sense is a garden that’s gotten outta control.  It keeps me stimulated. ( – Rae T.

black and white

My studio currently has white walls and ceilings, with neutral to black surfaces and furnishings. It’s calming and visually quiet environment so that I can both work and play here. It’s not stark, as there are areas of creative clutter, but the overall space is peaceful and inviting for making art. The best moments are when I turn on some music and put my phone on silent. – Karen C.


My studio is Tiffany blue with white trim. I work full-time at a hospital, and this color helps me forget my day. I can think better at my studio. When I sit down to create, it usually never takes longer than 10 mins before ideas start to flow. – Linh D.


I don’t really have any colors. Behind me is floor to ceiling shelving with supplies. To my left is a huge cabinet with wood doors, though often they are open showing more supplies. Next to that we have the television sitting in a brick fireplace. In front of  me, is mostly my huge iMac honestly can’t see much beyond it. (It’s new. :) yay) and off to the right is an open area that turns into the kitchen area, again mostly wood cabinets  there’s very little wall in the whole room, what we have is the same white as when we moved in. So I’d have to say my studio is “art supply” colored, mostly vintage paper and books. And the matte aluminum of my epson r2400 and  iMac. I wish it were prettier like those spreads you see of people’s studio. I had Kit come help me organize it, but frankly, I work chaotically, and don’t have lots of energy to tidy up after, so everything is a massive pile of paper I’m working with, loosely held in clear plastic tubs. (Kit pointed out that I like to see what I have or I forget I have it, so clear tubs work great).  I was raised by my Gran who liked need and tidy, so I always feel a bit of shame in regards to my work space. ( – Raven E.

tomato red

My interior studio walls are warm white and with tomato red /orange accent walls and maple shelving with views of trees out my windows. My studio is a relaxing environment which sparks my creative energy. – Bernadette C.


I painted mine an ivory-white. Warm tone supports good vibes. Also good lighting helps. I have sky lighting plus warm light bulbs for night work. Has been great since 1984! ~ Jone M.


How color affects one’s creativity is a good question. I prefer white walls in a studio. I like to use colors and a placing a painting/print etc, against a white surface gives me the best idea of the true color, i.e. there is minimal color interference. I even prefer a white palette and ink rolling surface for that reason. Also white walls reflect light best. If I had my choice I would have one wall be a pale ‘photo’ grey, neither warm, nor cool, again for minimal interference with true color in a painting, print etc. BUT the best psychological stimulus to my creativity is having plenty of Northern light. Artificial light is a downer for me. – Conni R.

warm white

My last studio had knotty pine walls, very warm but too dark. I couldn’t bring myself to paint them because they were beautiful wood. I like a lot of light, from windows if possible, with no shadows under my hands. My new studio has slightly warm, white walls, our landlord’s choice. But it’s working well. I like the brightness. I feel most colors on the wall would bounce onto whatever I’m working on and have an effect. Later in a different setting my finished art would not be the color I want. My table tops are a light grey, I prefer my grey cutting mat over the dark green one most of the time, too. I think these simple colors create an environment that makes me feel like it’s a good place to be making things. ( – Judy H.

multi 2

My studio walls are white but you can barely see them. The walls are covered with every color possible of artwork and art supplies. This colorful atmosphere is what charges and inspires me. For me “more is more” in every sense of creativity. ( – Dorit E.

navajo white

In my studio I keep pretty neutral with color and have a Navajo white which has some warmth to it and grey. It makes a great backdrop for all colors and does not intrude.  It keeps the space clean without being sterile and helps keep the light level up. The color is in all the inspiration pieces I have around. My artwork, objects that inspire, plants, and fabrics hanging on the walls or on shelves. There are a lot of natural items…rocks, wood, dried leaves and pods that warm up the space without effecting other colors. – Karen R.

What color is your studio? Or what color is your dream studio? Have you changed your studio color over time? If so, why? Please share in the comments!

Thank you again to the artists in Bay Area Book Artists. They are a tremendously generous group and always willing to share their thoughts and ideas.



A Book about Water Conservation for You to Make and Share

Water Conservation How To Reshoot 2 (2 of 2)

For the recent Book Arts Jam, I designed a new  cut and fold book. This one is about Water Conservation. It features original artwork and haiku as well as water saving tips from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

You can download the printable pdf, here: Ginger Burrell – Water Conservation Haiku Book 2014

Please feel free to copy, print and make as many of them as you’d like. You’ll find the directions, below as well as my first instructional video.

To assemble your book, first print on the highest print quality that your printer will produce. My favorite paper to use for these books is Hammermill Color Copy Digital. Be careful when you print – my print dialogue tries to default to “fit to page” which changes the dimensions and will make your book turn out funky. The book is designed to have the haiku centered on each page.

After printing the page, fold the paper in half lengthwise with the images on the outside. Use a bone folder to make the crease sharp.

Water Conservation How To Reshoot (1 of 6)

Now unfold your paper and fold it in half the other direction, again with the images on the outside. Remember to crease every fold.

Water Conservation How To Reshoot (2 of 6)

Now, fold each half of the page up to meet the middle fold and crease. You’ll end up with a W fold.

Water Conservation How To Reshoot (3 of 6)

Now, fold your paper back in half , with the images on the outside, and cut with scissors, very carefully from the top of the fold down to the horizontal fold.

Water Conservation How To Reshoot (4 of 6)

Keeping your book folded, use the outer two folded halves and push inward. The cut halves will fold the other way so you have an X.

Water Conservation How To Reshoot 2 (1 of 2)

Lay flat and press, starting with the back page (full water droplet). Voila!

Water Conservation How To Reshoot 2 (2 of 2)


Your comments on what you think of the book and/or the video, and what you will do with it are appreciated.

More free books for you to make are available through Free For All.







Book Arts Jam 2014 – Don’t Miss It!

  • Saturday, October 18th
  • 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Lucie Stern Center, Palo Alto, CA

Join me this coming weekend for one of my favorite events of the year, the Book Arts Jam! There is a great lineup of speakers, demos, an exhibition of artists’ books, amazing vendors and much, much more…. Oh, and don’t forget the Silent Auction!

I’m happy to be participating in a variety of ways again this year – as a teacher, (don’t miss my make-and-take at 12 noon – I’ve designed a new book, just for you!), as a vendor (come and see the two new books I’m releasing on Saturday), and as an assistant on the Silent Auction (Kit Davey really does all the hard work, I just offer tech support).

Come for the artists’ books, come for the inspiration, (come for the food trucks!) and come by and say, “Hello.” It’s always a pleasure to visit with old friends and make new ones.



Halloween Cut and Fold Books Free for You to Make and Share

I made these years ago for a class I was teaching and enjoy offering them every year about this time. Feel free to print and make as many copies as you’d like.  The images and jokes are from around the web. Obviously they are not for commercial purposes… In case you haven’t made this kind of book before (sometimes called an X book), there are instructions at the bottom of this post.


Ghost Humor


Pumpkin Humor


Skeleton humor

Mini book assembly instructions

Wishing you a fun and not-too-scary Halloween!


Pop-Ups Class Starts Next Week!

Leaf book sample for email and web (1 of 1)

I’m very excited to be planning for the Pop-Up Books Class that starts next Friday, September 12th at the Palo Alto Art Center. It is filling up, but has some spaces still available. The class is on Fridays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and runs for 10 weeks. You can sign up here. (If you have any problem signing up, please email me or leave me a comment.)

One of the challenges of pop-up books, other than the mechanics, is that many examples are “cute.” And while that in itself is not a bad thing, I know very few artists who appreciate their work being called cute.

At the same time, pop-ups add such an interesting and potentially interactive element, there must be a way to incorporate them into art for grown-ups, right?

When I’m designing the books I teach in class, I think of my students – what other kind of media do they work in? What subjects will be interesting to them? What can they actually use after class? I really like this structure because it is scalable and is useful for photographers, painters, illustrators – even ceramicists who want to photograph and display their work.

This is a sample, that I just finished for the class, which uses pop-up elements to create a gallery for my photos. What might have been mildly interesting photos of fall leaves on a flat surface, suddenly have more dynamic interest when mounted on pop-up elements.

Leaf book sample for email and web (3 of 2)

I’ve added even more visual interest by creating two different kind of pop-up galleries and by mounting some of the photos half-on and half-off the page.

Leaf book sample for email and web (2 of 2)

Right now my studio is littered with little paper samples, I look forward to sharing more of them with you soon.

If you have any questions about the class, please ask. Looking forward to seeing you in class next Friday!



Waxed Linen Sale at Volcano Arts



Just a quick note to tell you that the Waxed Linen Sale is on at Volcano Arts. It’s a great way to stock up on the colors you like for book binding – or to try new colors! (These are just a few sample colors, there are many more…)

I know several of my friends and students love this sale so I thought I’d share it on my blog.  It is the only time you can get the 2 and 3-ply in addition to the 4-ply. You do have to buy a minimum of 5 spools, so it’s a great time to put together an order with your artist friends.

It is a beautiful quality thread, I use it in my own binding. Here is a photo of a book I just finished called Birth/Control. It is a buttonhole stitch binding that uses the Country (Also called Bright) Red from Volcano Arts.

Birth Control

I have no relationship with them and do not benefit in any way, but I do love a sale!

Here is the special sale link.


Spirit Books by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord – Prepublication Discount until August 15

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord Spirit Book[All images copyright Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord]

I’ve always been fascinated by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s Spirit Books. They are beautiful, ephemeral, mysterious and textural. Now she is offering a new book featuring images and her thoughts about their creation. I can’t wait to get the book and I’ve taken advantage of her pre-publication discount available on Etsy. I have no relationship to Susan, nor do I benefit in any way, I just think they’re so beautiful — I thought you might think so, too.

Pre-Order Here until August 15th, 2014


Have you seen any of these books in person? I’d love to hear your response in the comments.