Inside the Artist’s Studio: Our Visit to CoCo Artist Iris S.’s Home Studio

Artwork by Iris S. 

Artwork by Iris S. 

Join us in our new series Inside the Artist’s Studio, which takes an integrated look at how our artist’s produce their masterpieces within an environment that promotes creativity for them. 

In today’s post, we take a deeper look into the space that makes CoCo Artist Iris S. tick.  Iris describes herself as “an intentionally approachable contemporary impressionist that just happens to finger paint.”  Or put more simply, “an oil painter that uses her fingers.”


CoCo: Tell us a little bit about this beautiful, airy home and studio you’ve created for yourself.

Iris: Corner unit, 3rd floor, heaps of northern sunlight.  I work never by the lights I have, but rather I try to paint only with sunlight, which I have found makes me focus longer without burning out. I have a custom made, push button gigantic easel that my step-father made me out of the mechanics of thrift store found drafting tables.  I tend to throw away anything that doesn’t have a major purpose in moving me forward.  I DO NOT hold onto clutter.  I have lots of recurring dreams of not being able to find a plane ticket because it’s under clutter.  I have a strong aversion to stuff! 

CoCo: What motivates you about your space?

Iris: Painting is like a boyfriend…or a girlfriend.  If there isn’t a tiny bit of tension, you can become complacent and take everything for granted.   So, a virtual wall exists down the middle of the house.  I can see my work at all times – it’s always nagging.  I also grew up with that.  My daddy was a cabinet-maker and my mom was a piano teacher.  Their work was always around the house.  I’m used to that; it’s a way of life, which means that I’m always going to feel sickened and with guilt to get back to work. 

Artwork by Iris S.

Artwork by Iris S.

CoCo: Tell us a little bit about how you work.

Iris: Well, first, there are a few restrictions I’m working with.  One, I don’t do details. There are no fine points in a finger point.  Also, since fingertips are all the same size, I’m basically using the same size brush all day long.  The other thing is that I’m racing a twelve-hour window of dry time.  It’s actually a blessing.

My paintings take a day to make but about a week of planning and worrying about.  During that week, I try to run into all the problems I’m going to run into and find solutions to them.  I only paint once or twice a week, and almost always finish a painting during that time.  With a big cup of coffee and music, I start at 10 am and go until 1 am; I take one lunch break.  And, it is exhausting.  Every single second of that time is spent thinking.

I get really lonely while I work, so I like to listen to audio books.  And, my favorite thing to do is to bring a friend right at the end…to “boss.”  They tell me things like, “This is too short, that reads weird, what’s going on here?”  While they are talking, I change things as fast as possible.  Non-artists are the absolute best at criticizing an unfinished work, and bringing it to perfection.  Anybody can tell me what’s not working, but as the painter, I’m the only one who can fix it.

Iris in her home studio with her cat, Foxy.

Iris in her home studio with her cat, Foxy.

CoCo: What makes you get to working everyday, when you could easily just relax since you’re in your home?

Iris: I’m in love with where painting in general could go.  I think in the long-term, as in what I could be by the time I’m 100 (painters live a long time).  I’m very lucky that I can take this career all the way to my deathbed.  I could accomplish a ton in 70 years!  If I just make a tiny bit of progress everyday, what I produce will be huge.

To learn more about CoCo Artist Iris S., email us at