Inspiring art studios come in many shapes and sizes; Garin Baker’s space is unique in that he and his wife, Clara, have been restoring their 4500 square-foot property by converting the attached carriage house into the perfect artist haven.
“When we bought the place around 1991, it was pretty much ruined,” Garin said. “We went about the task of making the house livable over a couple of years for our young family, with the idea that eventually the carriage house would become my workspace.”
Until then, Garin’s art studio was in the dining room, which proved to be challenging. After about six years of renovating the main living areas of the house, Garin began renovating the carriage house, and over the years has converted it into one of the most inspiring art studios you’ll find.
Here, Garin creates traditional paintings, works on large-scale murals, leads workshops, and does prep work for special projects, such as his recently released art video workshop, “Intuitive Figure Painting.”
So what’s the most important thing in an art studio? Some artists will say it’s their easel or taboret. For Garin, his taboret or office space might be a close second or third, but his top choice is an element that is less obvious to most.
“If I had to pick one thing, it would be the north light,” he said, admitting that he’s partial to this because of the amazing skylights he paints and teaches under at the Art Students League of New York. “The configuration of the north light in my art studio is really what enables me on a daily basis to really enjoy the space and use it to its fullest.”
He added that in addition to the perfect light, he greatly appreciates the wood stove for cozy warmth, the leather couch for naps as needed, and the art library for his continued studies of art. That said, “if I could give you a list, I would say in the hierarchy of it, in terms of actually working on a daily basis here, the north skylight is really the key.”
Garin has been teaching art in New York City for more than 30 years. Looking back, he said there are things he wished he knew earlier, but not just as an artist. “Sometimes I feel like maybe we just calm down a bit,” he said. “We’re sometimes in fear of what would happen if we didn’t do something, like something terrible is going to happen. I guess, as you get older – I would hope – you get a little wiser.”
He added that it’s important, especially for young people and young artists, to “just chill,” and to contemplate what kind of work they want to be doing, but he’s included in that group. “I think, ‘what kind of things do I want to create with my time here?’ rather than constantly thinking ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got to do that, have that, and chase that.’”
Garin encourages internal investigation for artists to find the kind of work “that’s most nurturing to your soul rather than just trying to become the next sensation. What kind of stories might you want to tell through your work?”
It’s no surprise then, that one of the most beloved spaces in Garin’s studio is the loft, also known as the “chill space.”
Lucky for us, Garin is teaching a new generation of artists to slow down, and enjoy the full experience of both life and art.
• Learn more about Garin Baker’s art video workshop, “Intuitive Figure Painting”
• Read about more inspiring art studios, such as Lori Putnam’s, in “Priorities: Her Home is in Her Art Studio”