The Messy Studio with Rebecca Crowell

The podcast at the intersection of art, travel, business, philosophy, and life in general.

About the show

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 weekend!

The Messy Studio with Rebecca Crowell on social media


  • Episode 145: Exploring Collage

    October 2nd, 2020  |  46 mins 17 secs
    art, artist interview, collage

    A couple of weeks ago we did an episode about working in mixed media, and collage figured prominently among the artists who responded to our Facebook question about the topic. Collage interests many artists because of its potential to bring various materials, images, and processes together in surprising and expressive combinations. Today we’ll look at some of the approaches that artists use who work in collage, and why they are drawn to this way of working.

  • Episode 144: Cooking Up Something Good

    September 26th, 2020  |  48 mins 31 secs
    art, collage, creativity, materials, rebecca crowell

    In our almost three years of recording podcasts, we have often found ourselves comparing cooking and art in terms of process and outcome. Since our podcast description includes “life in general” we thought it would be fun to move away from the messy studio and into the messy kitchen for an episode that explores the ways that cooking and creating art share aspects of creativity.

  • Episode 143: Quirky Mashups: Mixed Media Ideas

    September 19th, 2020  |  37 mins 44 secs
    art, creativity, fundamentals, materials, mixed media, rebecca crowell

    Working in mixed media, also called combined media, expands creative possibilities, and intrigues many artists. What materials can be used together in interesting and non-traditional ways? How can you approach the overwhelming number of potential combinations? Mixed media involves the joy of experimentation, the satisfaction of discovering new approaches, and new ways of creating meaning and personal voice in your work. In today’s episode, we will sum up some of the comments made on a recent Facebook post about the topic, and talk about the reasons many artists love to work in mixed media.

  • Episode 142: Material World

    September 12th, 2020  |  34 mins 10 secs
    art, creativity, fundamentals, materials, rebecca crowell

    The materials an artist uses are one of the first things we notice when looking at art—we may see paint, clay, wood, paper, pencil, or intriguing combinations of many materials and processes. Beyond their visual impact alone, materials can also evoke feelings and ideas that add to the meaning of the work. Today we’re going to talk about materiality in art—its impact and the decisions involved in choosing art materials.

  • Episode 141: How Others See You

    September 5th, 2020  |  50 mins 35 secs
    art, business, marketing, personal brand, personal development, professionalism, rebecca crowell, reputation

    We create our art and conduct our art careers mostly from within the bubble of our own point of view. But our reputations are important to our success and they are defined by the way other people see us. From within our own perspectives, we can lose sight of how we come across to our colleagues, collectors, students, galleries and others who define us in the outside world. Today will be talking about shaping your reputation as an artist, and why it is important.

  • Episode 140: Seeking Validation

    August 29th, 2020  |  36 mins 42 secs
    art, career, creativity, mindset, motivation, rebecca crowell, self improvement

    As artists, we love knowing that our work is appreciated by other people—whether that comes to us via exhibits, sales, awards, positive comments on social media, or simply from friends and family who respond to what we do. And even though many artists would say that recognition and validation are secondary to making the work, it can be still hard to stay motivated without some positive input. Today we’ll talk about the desire for validation alongside the pure need to create and how they can complement each other in our art practices.

  • Episode 139: Those Awkward Moments

    August 22nd, 2020  |  42 mins 22 secs
    art, career, conversation, creativity, criticism, marketing, rebecca crowell, self improvement

    In a recent podcast, we talked about the remark often made about abstract artists --” my kid could paint that.” But there are lots of other things people say to and about artists that show a lack of understanding or even hostility toward art. When these happen in conversation, they can create some awkward moments. Most of us tend to feel defensive when this happens, and we can miss an opportunity to elevate the conversation. Today we’ll talk about some of these common remarks, consider why people make them, and ways to handle them gracefully.

  • Episode 138: My Kid Could Do That!

    August 15th, 2020  |  37 mins 44 secs
    abstraction, art, child art, creativity, rebecca crowell

    Saying that an abstract painting is something a preschooler could do sounds like the ultimate putdown for abstract art. It implies that abstraction is a scam, meant to fool the viewer into thinking it has actual importance and ridiculing the fact that it is sold for thousands of dollars. It also denies that it takes effort, skill, or seriousness to make the work. But can that same remark be viewed in a positive light instead? What do we lose as adult artists that children have naturally, before becoming self-conscious about their work? And is child art really the equivalent of adult work? Today discuss the relationship between abstraction and child art.

  • Episode 137: Roughing It: All About Texture

    August 8th, 2020  |  29 mins 48 secs
    art, creativity, fundamentals, rebecca crowell, style, texture

    Along with color, texture is one of the most evocative visual elements, engaging not only our eyes but our sense of touch—as well as our memories and associations. Many artists seek out ways of creating texture and consider it one of the most important aspects of their work. Yet because it is such a powerful element it needs to be used thoughtfully, and often with restraint. How can we use texture most effectively in our work, allowing it to take its place with other visual elements without overpowering them? What are the special qualities of texture that can be used to enhance our work?

  • Episode 136: Growing Pains and Gains

    August 1st, 2020  |  36 mins 39 secs

    A theme in all of our podcasts over time has been encouraging artistic growth. To us, growth is a given, something all of us strive as artists and as people. But what does it really mean to grow artistically and why is it important? What can you look for in your work to know if it is growing? Today we will look at what growth means in our studio practices and share thoughts about its importance.

  • Episode 135: Are You Curious?

    July 25th, 2020  |  35 mins 20 secs
    art, art researching, creativity, curiosity, growth, rebecca crowell, style, technique

    We were all curious as children and many artists retain that trait as vital to dynamic art practice. Yet curiosity can be fragile, disappearing in the face of information overload or the desire to seem knowledgeable and in control. To be curious, to wonder, to explore –all are aspects of ourselves that keep us young, with room to grow. Today we will look at how to nurture curiosity in your art practice and the importance of exploring and wondering, in art and in life.

  • Episode 134: Editing with Energy

    July 18th, 2020  |  38 mins 47 secs
    art, creativity, editing, fundamentals, rebecca crowell, skills

    Artists need to edit, too!. Of course, we’re all familiar with the idea of editing as it applies to writing. It is often said that every author needs an editor to make sure that their writing is technically correct, cohesive, and impactful. But as visual artists we don’t typically involve anyone else in that kind of role --it's up to us to do it ourselves. Today we will talk about editing our work for stronger and more consistent results, and point out that it need not be a chore or necessary evil.

  • Episode 133: Creative Collections

    July 11th, 2020  |  38 mins 8 secs
    art, collecting, creativity, rebecca crowell

    When artists collect, it’s often--but not always-- related to our art practices. We tend to collect works of art that we’ve bought or traded for, art books, memorabilia like announcements and posters, and of course, art supplies. But what about the more unexpected things we gather in our homes and studios? What do our collections tell us about ourselves and our attraction to certain kinds of objects? Today we’ll report on what some artists had to say when Rebecca posed the topic on Facebook, along with our own musings about the meaning of collections.

  • Episode 132: The Power Of Beauty

    July 4th, 2020  |  29 mins 43 secs
    art, beauty, creativity, rebecca crowell

    We often say “That’s beautiful” in response to a work of art, but the word beautiful can have many meanings. Most of us recognize it as a heartfelt compliment when it is said about our own work, but we may wonder what specifically prompted the viewer to use the word. And while we may strive for beauty in our work we may have not thought much about what that means. Today we look at what deeper ideas or responses the words “beauty” and “beautiful” can hold.

  • Episode 131: The Power of Intention

    June 27th, 2020  |  28 mins 47 secs
    art, creativity, intentions, personal development, rebecca crowell

    A key aspect of establishing your personal voice is figuring out what is most important to you in your work. What do you want to communicate to other people? What responses do you hope to evoke? The process of defining intentions can be challenging, involving some basic but important questions, and may take some time to process and refine. But clear intentions are a powerful tool. Today we will look at the process of clarifying your intentions and the advantages for doing so.

  • Episode 130: Being Authentic

    June 20th, 2020  |  38 mins 38 secs
    art, authenticity, being authentic, creativity, influences, inspiration, rebecca crowell

    This is a topic that we have considered covering for a while. It dovetails nicely with past episodes addressing what inspires and motivates our work. But it seems especially relevant now given the worldwide pandemic and recent social unrest, which have many artists thinking deeply about the meaning and honesty of their work.

    Being authentic in your work means being true to yourself, and unafraid in your creative explorations. During this time we are experiencing massive changes all around us. Examining how authentic we are being in our work can lead to new insights and growth. The more challenges we are facing in life, the more important it becomes to bring our whole selves into our work. This results in better work and a better mental state.