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!

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  • 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?

  • Episode 166: Reinventing Yourself

    February 20th, 2021  |  32 mins 52 secs
    advice, art, change, creativity, personal development, rebecca crowell

    Many of go through times in our lives when we make radical changes—either by choice or because of something imposed on us by circumstance. But even if the big change is something, we want to make mixed feelings are inevitable and stressful as we let go of the old and step into the new. Big changes challenge the very idea of who we are and how we operate in the world. How can an art practice help us through a time when we either need --or want--to reinvent ourselves?

  • Episode 165: Creating A Daily Series

    February 13th, 2021  |  33 mins 26 secs
    art, creativity, daily art practice, habits, personal development, rebecca crowell, series

    Working in series is usually an involved process in terms of both time and focus. Artists are often known for series that explore ideas in a sustained, deep way. But the intriguing aspects working in series can also happen in a quicker, more spontaneous way, with a new piece each day. Today we’ll look at working in series with a sketchbook, or using other small or quick formats, and explore how this can be an important part of an artist’s practice.

  • Episode 164: Abstraction and Your Inner Child

    February 7th, 2021  |  37 mins 42 secs
    abstraction, art, children's art, creativity, mark making, rebecca crowell, symbols

    We all drew, painted, and made things out of playdough and construction paper as little children, in spontaneous and unselfconscious ways. Some of us retain those memories, and we may also have children or grandchildren whose artwork we love. The art of children affords an intriguing view of a very different way of seeing and thinking than we have as adults, and many abstract artists have found it a source of inspiration. Today we look at some special qualities of child art and how it may feed our abstract ideas.

  • Episode 163: Abstracting With Symbols

    January 31st, 2021  |  33 mins 12 secs
    abstraction, art, creativity, fundamentals, rebecca crowell, symbolism, symbols

    Abstract artists find many ways to bring meaning to their work. For some, this may be purely an investigation of color, line, or other elements. For others—it is the expression of emotion or evoking aspects of the visual world. Today we’re going to look at another powerful way that artists can bring meaning to abstraction—through the use of symbols, whether personal in origin or more universally recognized.

  • Episode 162: When Is It Finished?

    January 23rd, 2021  |  35 mins 17 secs
    art decisions, creative process, creativity, finishing, messy studio, rebecca crowell

    Every time we make a piece of art, we reach the point of deciding if it’s finished --yet as common as this moment is in studio life, it is often one of doubt and second-guessing. What are some meaningful criteria for when something is done? Are there questions to ask ourselves in declaring something finished? Do we have to finish everything, or is it OK to abandon certain pieces? Today we will look at this ordinary but complex process of deciding a work of art is done.

  • Episode 161: Success

    January 16th, 2021  |  43 mins 26 secs

    Although most of us wish for success with our work and art careers, defining what that means is tricky, changeable, and very personal. Does success mean selling your work, recognition in the art world, or simply your own satisfaction with what you create? How do our ideas of success shift over time? Can we be satisfied with our current level of success or do we always want more? Today, as we look ahead to a new year, we’ll toss around some ideas about success and what it means for working artists.

  • Episode 160: Making Stone Soup - Interview with Phyllis Lasche

    January 9th, 2021  |  43 mins 46 secs
    art, collaborations, creativity, interview, phyllis lasche, rebecca crowell

    Rebecca interviews Phyllis Lasche about her artist collaboration project, Stone Soup!

  • Episode 159: Lessons From 2020

    January 3rd, 2021  |  38 mins 53 secs
    2020, art, change, creativity, growth, learning, personal development, rebecca crowell, retrospective

    At the end of 2020, we’re overloaded with reflections in the media about how society has navigated this strange and difficult pandemic year. On a personal level, we all have stories of struggles, loss, insights, and changes. Today we are especially interested in what this time has meant for us as artists. Last week, Rebecca posed the question to our listeners “How did 2020 impact your work?” and today on our first podcast of 2021, we’ll share some of the responses we received as well as our own thoughts.

  • Episode 158: Abstracting with Emotion

    December 26th, 2020  |  39 mins 25 secs
    abstraction, art, color, creativity, emotion, fundamentals, line, rebecca crowell

    Abstract artists are sometimes stereotyped as uninhibited people who slap paint down in direct response to strong emotion. But this idea is far from true and accurate. While many abstract painters do aim to express emotion and mood, their approaches vary widely --from spontaneous to highly controlled. And even the most intuitive artists need to thoughtfully consider their use of the visual elements and design principles. Today we will look at painting abstractly as an expression of emotion, mood, remembrance, or other states of mind.