Gwen Hauser is an atelier-trained painter; lots of classical training on how to capture light, get perfect skin tones, and do things the right way. And for a long time, that perfectionism was what stifled her creativity.
"It was suffocating," she says. "I'm a mess when I work. I like things visually chaotic, and I needed the freedom to strip my art down to the core and make mistakes." You wouldn't know if from her paintings, which are detailed, abstract 'maps' inspired by vintage newspaper clippings and photographs. But the studio reflects her working style, from the open-faced shelving to the un-stretched canvases pinned to the wall it's a space that gives her the freedom to do things her own way, without worrying about making a mess, or following rules.
"I started by just painting on the floor," she says. "I'd just experiment with paint and water, dropping stuff on the canvas, seeing what happened, and drawing inspiration from it." It helps to have a studio with sealed concrete floors, high ceilings, big walls and plenty of light.
Gwen's private space is in St. Paul's Dow Building (pictured below in 1925, before they obliterated the amazing windows, and today). And while she values the privacy, she also embraces the community; the building is filled with over 30 artists working in all kinds of mediums. "The talent level here is amazing," she says. "People here are serious about what they do. It's an inspiring environment to be in."
These days, Gwen doesn't worry about getting things perfect; instead she feels supported and at home amidst her community of artists, and comforted by having a workspace that complements her creative process.