Toronto, ON, Canada • Visit Website »

Join us for a #CraftRoom tour of Ruth Oosterman's art studio in Toronto, Canada.

I love that everything is within arms reach and that my daughter's desk is behind mine so we can talk as we create.

Tell us about your space

I initially worried that moving from a massive art studio space into a little corner within my home would hamper my artistic pursuits but it ended up having the opposite effect. Working from home meant no commute and being able to create any time of the day, not to mention being surrounded by my little ones who love to jump in and out of my creative process. My desk is almost 7 feet in length and is home to my entire work space, on one end I have my computer and speciality printer where I package Etsy orders and on the other end you can find an open spot where all the magic happens. Art supplies are carefully arranged so everything is within an arms reach meaning if I am in the middle of one of my usual watercolor paintings and decide to add acrylic, pen, glitter, feathers... you name it it is in reach!

What have you done to make your space cosy, beautiful or inspiring?

Decluttered and created a specific home for every art supply. I know it sounds bland but my desk explodes into chaos on what feels like a daily basis and it really does discourage me from sitting down to create. Once I created a specific home for everything it helped me maintain some level of order which in turn enhanced my creativity and being a naturally messy person this wasn't an easy task. The most inspiring addition to my space are the photos of my children that are placed right at eye level when I am working. They are such a source of inspiration and encouragement for me that in moments of feeling discouraged all I have to do is see their smiling faces and it reminds me why I do what I do. It also reminds me of living the lessons I try to teach them such as not being afraid to fail, to try no matter what and to use mistakes as jumping off points to thinking outside of the box.

How do you keep organized?

Creating a specific home for everything and getting rid of the "everything" drawer(s). I used to tell my Type A neat freak spouse that my chaotic desk was a sign of genius and used that delightful excuse from organizing it properly. It took me until I was 30 to realize my mindset was hindering my creativity and once everything was truly organized it not only enhanced my creativity but also my desire to put more time into my art.

Any tips & tricks for organising supplies?

Bins, drawers, boxes, wall hangers and everything with a proper label or at least memorize what goes where and keep it that way. Get rid of the "everything" drawer that exists and is filled with the random things you don't want to sort through, it might be out of sight but it definitely isn't out of mind and you'll find it nagging at you in the middle of your creative process.

Which are your favourite possessions and are there any of your own creations on display?

I treasure my illustration pens that have fine tips along with my super thin paintbrushes and squirrel them out of sight so my lovely children can't have them. Everything else on my desk they are allowed to access as I have taught them to respect tools of the art and they are invited to create any time using my supplies, minus the ones mentioned above.
I tend to have one of mine or my children's paintings up and rotate it out with the latest piece.

How do you organise your inspiration and ideas?

I try to take pictures of inspirations and keep all of the ideas filed away on my computer to limit the amount of paper and media floating around my desk.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Any time I see anything that sparks the flame within, whether it be a beautiful sunset or my child looking at their shadow on a beautiful day, I take a picture and file it away. I don't always know what it will turn into or how the inspiration will play a role in a painting but I add the photo to the Ideas folder and keep it for a rainy day.

If you had three wishes, what would you do to make it the dream space?

I really love my space as it is and am incredibly grateful but if I could wish for anything it might be to make it soundproof (have you met my kids?!), more natural light is always a good thing and perhaps a new camera station so taping our time-lapse paintings would be a bit smoother.

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