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 182: Dealing with Disrespect

    June 13th, 2021  |  39 mins 33 secs
    art, business, career, creativity, disrespect, personal development, rebecca crowell, respect

    Anyone who cares about the work they perform wants to have that work appreciated and respected. And while certain professions and high-level positions can elicit that respect almost automatically, people in many other fields have to build that regard from others over time. They need to constantly reinforce respect for what they do-- and most importantly, feel it within themselves in order to create it. Those in creative fields may have special challenges in building respect in a society that tends to look at what they do as unimportant, a hobby or sideline, or something they do simply to please themselves. Or their work may be regarded for its commercial or decorative value only. Today we’ll take a look at the ways artists and other creative people struggle to establish respect in the circles in which they move

  • Episode 181: Respecting Your Artist Self

    June 5th, 2021  |  35 mins 14 secs
    art, business, career, creativity, personal development, rebecca crowell, respect

    Self-respect is one of the central ingredients for a healthy mindset yet can be one of the hardest to achieve. As artists, we may lose our grip on it when encountering the larger art world or lack of self-respect may interfere with our art practice itself, keeping us from dedicating time and resources to our work, or behaving in ways that undermine our success. Is your self-respect as an artist firmly in place or does it waver or fade in some situations? Today we’ll talk about ways to build and maintain your self-respect inside and outside the studio.

  • Episode 180: When to Settle

    May 30th, 2021  |  33 mins 17 secs
    art, compromise, creativity, rebecca crowell, settling

    One of the challenges of your art practice is being able to evaluate your finished work in terms of what is excellent and what is just good or all right. Many of us want to be able to identify our best work and also to accept nothing less than this for ourselves. But do we have to push everything we do to this highest standard? Can we allow some things to be less than our best and move on? And are we really able to be objective in evaluating our own work anyway?

  • Episode 179: Creative Frustration

    May 22nd, 2021  |  30 mins 27 secs
    art, branding, creativity, frustration, personal voice, process, rebecca crowell

    It’s an all-too familiar situation in the studio, coping with a work of art that seems to fight against you at every step, making each day with it a struggle. It’s so easy to become obsessed with a piece like this, trying to persuade it to cooperate, just as you might with a stubborn person. It can feel like an exhausting contest of wills, made all the more frustrating by your awareness that you are actually fighting with yourself. Today we’re going to talk about those pieces that make you want to tear out your hair or throw them out the window -window. Because we all know that feeling, right?

  • Episode 178: Sparking Creative Passion

    May 15th, 2021  |  35 mins 18 secs
    art, creativity, motivation, passion, personal development, rebecca crowell

    Passion is a vital ingredient to staying motivated and focused on our creative work. It helps us find our own direction and voice and keeps us going even under hard personal circumstances or times when the outside world is failing to provide validation. Passion is a source of creative energy that sustains and revitalizes us. But is creative passion something we just have as an innate part of our personality? Or can it be nurtured and developed if we lack it? Today we talk about creative passion, and how to nurture and honor its role in our lives as artists.

  • Episode 177: Searching for Stories

    May 8th, 2021  |  35 mins 1 sec
    abstraction, art, communication, connection, creativity, process, rebecca crowell, story

    Since the beginning of time, artists have told stories with their work. Sometimes the messages are straightforward and other times open to interpretation. Stories can be told with recognizable imagery, with symbols, and even with purely abstract elements. At the heart of telling stories is our desire to communicate and the human love of narrative. Do you think of your work as telling stories? In today’s discussion, we hope to open your mind to the narrative aspects of your work and perhaps enable you to mine your stories for new ideas.

  • Episode 176: Visual Ideas

    May 1st, 2021  |  37 mins 18 secs
    3d printing, art, brand, creativity, personal voice, rebecca crowell, unique ideas, visual ideas

    Artists often worry that their work is derivative of another artist’s work and may be very concerned about being overly influenced by someone else’s style or technique. This problem certainly does exist in the art world and is something to guard against because most of us do want our work to be original and unique. But in every field of endeavor, people build on and respond to the work of others, and this is no different for artists. Today we talk about building on, rather than appropriating, other people’s ideas.

  • Episode 175: Authenticity

    April 24th, 2021  |  26 mins 30 secs
    art, authenticity, brand, creativity, personal voice, rebecca crowell

    The artist’s life is challenging in ways that go beyond producing strong work, as difficult as that may be. An art practice also makes huge demands of us on a personal and emotional level. Although we love what we do, all of us sometimes feel overwhelmed by these demands, which include the need for constant self-examination, brutal honesty, and being willing to push through difficulties. Yet we know that these challenges come with the territory and are the path to true personal expression. Today we will focus on the challenge and rewards of being authentic and honest with ourselves in our studio practice.

  • Episode 174: The Messiest Studio... EVER!

    April 16th, 2021  |  34 mins 17 secs
    art, biography, creativity, francis bacon, history, messy studio, rebecca crowell, uk artists

    Did you know there was a well-known artist whose studio was so impressive for its mess that the entire place was reproduced piece by piece in a museum after his death? We are talking about British painter Francis Bacon, famous for his expressionistic figurative work, and whose reproduced studio is permanently housed at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. Today we’re going to look at the story of his studio chaos –and offer words of encouragement for those whose studios may not be famous, but perhaps almost as messy as Francis Bacon’s.

  • Episode 173: Keeping Records: The Stress and Mess

    April 10th, 2021  |  31 mins 39 secs
    art, business, finances, inventory, lifestyle, organization, personal development, rebecca crowell, record keeping, taxes

    There probably are a lot of artists who are able to keep accurate, up-to-date records of their inventory, sales, expenses, materials, and contacts. They have systems that are efficient and neat, and any information they need about their art careers can be easily retrieved from a file. Then there are those who fail miserably at organization, and whose records--if they exist--are in total confusion. A question about the location of a certain painting, or the need to put together images of work for a presentation is cause for panic. Are you somewhere in between these extremes, or do you identify with one or the other? Today we take an honest look at the challenges of record-keeping for artists.

  • Episode 172: Building A Connection

    April 3rd, 2021  |  31 mins 51 secs
    abstraction, art, communication, connection, creativity, process, rebecca crowell, story

    Creating art is a way to share our thoughts, the ways we see the world, and experience life. This communication is vital-- even when we’re immersed in our process, thinking only of the next step ahead--our unseen, largely unknown audience is with us. Very few artists work in total isolation, with no desire to connect or communicate with viewers. Yet artists are also encouraged to follow their own vision, to not let other people’s reactions pull them off track. Today we’ll toss around some thoughts about the desire to connect with our viewers, and what this means in the studio.

  • Episode 171: Challenges and Risks

    March 27th, 2021  |  36 mins 15 secs
    business, career, challenges, cold wax academy, jerry mclaughlin, painting, rebecca crowell, risks

    As artists, we are often presented with situations that ask us to say “yes” to something that feels challenging or risky. This could be as small as the need to rework a painting to as large as agreeing to a major solo exhibit. Accepting any challenge requires a commitment and it may feel stressful, and bring on self-doubt. Yet successful artists always take some risks that lead to growth and new possibilities—in their careers and in the studio. Today Rebecca and her partner at Cold Wax Academy, Jerry McLaughlin, talk about why it is important to take on challenges and risks in your art practice--along with a few stories about their own related experiences.

    Rebecca and Jerry recorded this episode on video as well as audio, so if you'd like to see the video version, please visit the Messy Studio Facebook page or the Cold wax Academy Facebook page. That’s or

  • Episode 170: Finding Downtime

    March 20th, 2021  |  41 mins 48 secs
    advice, art, balance, lifestyle, personal development, rebecca crowell, workflow

    As much as we may appreciate living an entrepreneurial lifestyle, juggling its many demands can be exhausting and challenging. Artists who are also involved in the business of art can easily feel scattered and stressed by all the tasks needed to stay productive and on track. But one of the most challenging demands may be stepping away from all of that on a regular basis. Today we will toss around some ideas for the type-A personalities among us who find it hard to relax.

  • Episode 169: Overworking It

    March 13th, 2021  |  29 mins 11 secs
    art, creativity, education, rebecca crowell, style, technique

    Artists are often cautioned not to overwork their pieces, especially when the medium is drawing or painting. This advice is meant to prevent work that is too fussy or refined, or otherwise lacking energy. But many artists place importance on fine-tuning their work, and on paying close attention to detail. The art-world advice against overworking may not apply to everyone’s approach. Today we’ll take a closer look at how this advice can sometimes get in the way of creating your best work.

  • Episode 168: Your Body Of Work

    March 6th, 2021  |  34 mins 50 secs

    As artists, we need ways to organize our work in our minds, on our websites or in our presentations. Where do logical connections exist and how can grouping certain pieces together aid in understanding them? Thinking of your output as “bodies of work” is a useful approach. But this is also one of those vague art terms that means different things to different people. What constitutes a body of work? How many pieces does it include? Is it the same as a series? Today we’ll be examining this term in the hopes of providing some insight into how it applies to your own work.

  • Episode 167: The Power Of Intentions

    February 27th, 2021  |  37 mins 19 secs
    art, creativity, focus, fundamentals, intentions, rebecca crowell

    A work of art created with intention is compelling--we intuitively recognize when something is done with purpose and inner direction. Yet as artists we are also seekers and explorers in our work. Our creative path is often wandering rather than straight, and it may seem false or against our nature to state a clear intention or meaning behind our work. How can we work with intention yet remain open and flexible? What are the advantages of clarifying intentions?