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 150: Studio Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

    November 6th, 2020  |  37 mins 3 secs

    Once again, our listeners have come through with answers to our Facebook query about ideas for storage, worktops, unusual tools, and other studio tips to make our spaces and processes more efficient and yes—more neat and organized. Even those of us who work happily in messy conditions like to be able to locate our supplies and to use our available space in the best ways. Today we’ll talk about some of the tips people gave us for improving their studio spaces and working methods, and add a few of our own.

  • Episode 149: Nature's Art Supplies

    October 31st, 2020  |  32 mins 9 secs
    art, creativity, fundamentals, materials, nature, rebecca crowell

    A trip to the art supply store or website is something most of us enjoy. We’re not just stocking up, but entertaining possibilities, wondering what a new color of paint or kind of brush or sculptural tool could bring to our work. Exploring new materials is part of what we do as artists. But there’s also a world of art materials and processes available at no cost, outside in nature. What can be done with sticks, dirt, rocks, feathers, bones, and other bits of nature? Today we’ll toss around some ideas for using natural objects as art materials and tools, and forces of nature as part of the art process.

  • Episode 148: Thoughts on Creative Process

    October 24th, 2020  |  31 mins 56 secs
    art, creative stages, creativity, fundamentals, process, rebecca crowell

    With all of the ups and downs that we go through in the studio, it may be helpful to know that the creative process involves stages that are fairly predictable and universal--some of which are challenging. Although these stages or steps are usually described as taking place as a linear progression --from initial idea to finished work--most of us find our own process to be more complex. Today we’ll discuss these creative stages as a reminder of what we all go through as artists, while at the same time acknowledging that few things can be described neatly and simply when it comes to creativity.

  • Episode 147: Confidence

    October 18th, 2020  |  34 mins 24 secs
    art, confidence, creativity, personal development, rebecca crowell

    Confidence often seems to go along with success in the art world—when talking about the business side of things, qualities like self-assurance, decisiveness, and the ability to speak well about your work are important. In the studio, confidence may take a more private form—the ability to try new things, or to carry through with major projects. While there’s no doubt that confidence is a good thing, many artists feel they fall short of having it. Today we’re going to talk about confidence in a somewhat philosophical way that may help see it more broadly.

  • Episode 146: Older and Wiser: Creativity in Later Years

    October 9th, 2020  |  38 mins 1 sec
    aging, art, creativity, gratitude, rebecca crowell

    In many ways, art is a great leveler of personal differences among those who create it. Along with other personal factors like gender and ethnicity, the age of an artist often has little or no impact on the pure, wordless first encounter between viewer and art. On the other hand, as artists we know that many aspects of our personal lives do affect the content of our work and how we go about making it. Today we are going to talk about some effects of aging on artists and their studio practices.

  • 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.