For many Ashland artists, a studio isn't just a place to be creative. It's a place to do business. They have found that opening their studios to the public is a way to meet potential customers.




Dozens of artists are doing just that in August, September and October.




Charu Colorado has shown in galleries but said that meeting people at her studio, where she can serve them iced tea and have a conversation, makes business sense.




"My best marketing has always been through open studios," she said.




Colorado has carved out space where she can display sculptures and paintings in her studio. Partition walls with hangers cover shelves and cabinets, creating a place to hang pictures. She arranges her hand-made artist books on a table with a notice to let people know that, yes, they can handle the books.




Colorado said people want to get an idea how art is made, so she also does demonstrations.




"When people come to an open studio, they want to see art. They want to see things happening and what the atmosphere in the work space is like," she said.




Suzanna Solomon said artists should think of their studio as a place to create and of a gallery to show and sell work. When hosting an open studio, she said it's important to keep a master list with titles, materials, prices and dimensions, and to put that information on or near each piece. Put out a guest book to get names, addresses and e-mail addresses of visitors. Serve refreshments and hand out an artist's statement and biography to everyone.




Colorado, who lives at 1026 Henry St. No. 6, and Solomon, who lives at 352 Phelps St., will open their studios to the public from — to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 17. To reach Colorado, call 482-5698. To reach Solomon, call 482-0115.




The two are also taking part in the larger Southern Oregon Open Studios tour over Labor Day Weekend on Saturday, Aug. 30, Sunday, Aug. 31, and Monday, Sept. 1. More than 45 Ashland and Jacksonville artists will open their studios to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days.




Visitors will see the inner workings of a silk painting studio, watch the creation of horse hair pottery and see other art being made.




Free studio tour booklets will be available in Ashland from Saturday, Aug. 9, until Monday, Sept. 1, at Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St., Ashland Artisan Gallery and Art Center, 163 E. Main St., and Bohemia Gallery, 222 A St. For more information, call 488-5698.




Making the leap




Joan Brown and Linda Curtis have shown their work in other people's galleries.




But in April, they made the leap and became gallery owners themselves &

with a twist.




Brown and Curtis Studio Gallery, located at 40 N. Main St. inside the Claycomb Mall between Bug A Boo and Nimbus, is a working studio for the two, plus a place for them to show their paintings.




"We wanted control over presenting our work and we wanted a working studio. You can't really do that in other people's galleries," Brown said.




Combining a studio with a gallery has been productive, since they can paint and not just "gallery sit." It also gives them a chance to educate the public about the entire process of making art, from conception to finished painting.




Brown still has a home studio, and Curtis maintains a studio at her home as well. Figuring out how to store supplies, set up their painting stations and still display their art has been a challenge in the relatively small commercial space, Brown said.




"We're still feeling our way how much we can have down there and have the gallery look nice," she said. "Fortunately, we're not really messy and we don't throw paint."




Knowing that it would take a few years for people to become familiar with their gallery, they developed a financial plan to sustain themselves during a time of limited sales. That budgeting has become particularly valuable in today's economic climate, when discretionary spending is down, Brown said.




As for other artists, she said if they can pay the rent and utilities, she would encourage them to launch their own working studio and gallery spaces.




"If you can afford to get through tough times, do it, because it's been a very rewarding experience for us. It's been a very creative experience just to do it," Brown said. "Take control of your own art and just do it."




The gallery is open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Mondays and Wednesdays. For more information, call 482-9900.




Home sweet home




Even artists who don't host open studio tours should set aside some room in their studios for the business side of art, local artists recommended.




"Like it or not, being a professional artist also requires quite a bit of business work such as inventory, research, e-mail, correspondence, etc.," Margaret Garrington said.




She has an area set aside for paper recycling and a desk, computer and printer.




Her spacious studio is in the basement of her house, but it has windows and opens out onto a flower garden. That location helps her concentrate on her work and not be distracted by other aspects of her life.




She has organized her studio for efficiency and comfort.




At her pastel painting station easel, Garrington spends a lot of time on her feet, so a thick rubber pad provides cushioning. She has different items, like a cart holding hundreds of pastels, on wheels so that she can move them around the studio.




Garrington's jewerly design table has supplies close at hand. She bought plastic drawers of different sizes from BiMart and labeled them so that different supplies are easy to find.




She has one wall for studying paintings in progress and another for finished pieces, which is also the place where she photographs her work. A utility sink and adjacent bathroom are a real bonus, Garrington said.




She uses daylight-balanced light bulbs for her art, track lighting for display walls and cool, efficient fluorescent lights for work that doesn't need color-correct light.




Her studio is open by appointment by calling 482-8559. Her paintings are on display at Hanson Howard Gallery, 82 N. Main St., and her jewelry can be found at Blue Heron Gallery Gifts, 90 N. Main St.




Dot Fisher-Smith has found a way to have a studio even though her house on Oak Street is limited in size to be environmentally friendly and to stay out of a nearby floodplain. A room downstairs that opens onto a patio and fish pond doubles as a guest bedroom and Fisher-Smith's studio.




A bed comes down from the wall for when she and her husband have guests and then folds back up when not in use. She said even people without guest bedrooms might be able to use their own bedrooms as studios.




"Bedrooms don't get used for anything but sleeping. If they have a large enough bedroom, they could use their bedroom for a studio," Fisher-Smith said.




She works on a drafting table and has a display wall with track lighting to show her art.




Fisher-Smith said everyone should consider having a home studio, even people who are not professional artists &

or who don't even think of themselves as artists. She noted that she doesn't even call her studio a studio.




"The word 'studio' implies a professional or an artist, and people are intimidated by that. It should just be a place for your own private, creative work. I decided to call my 'studio' my laboratory because I'm experimenting and exploring," she said.




Fisher-Smith has work on display through August at Inward Bound yoga center, 611 Siskiyou Blvd. She will have an open studio at her home, 945 Oak St., from — to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.




Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.