Words and images by Jenn Rose Smith, a photographer and cinematographer based in Austin.
Alexandra Valenti's East Austin studio is a sanctuary of flow. It's a place where emotion and memory take shape in vibrant color. The light-filled space is where the longtime photographer first began experimenting with paint five years ago. Admired for her sophisticated use of color and form, Alexandra now creates large-scale paintings full time.
You can feel the heartbeat of her work. There's a playful freedom that makes each piece feel intimate and unique. Picasso once famously said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Alexandra embodies this ethos as a prolific artist who continues to bravely evolve.
She is always in motion, always experimenting, always playing.
We stepped inside Alexandra's studio to discover the rituals that help this painter find her flow each day.
What's something you’re committed to doing every single day, no matter what?
Sleeping well. 7-8 hours a night. Nothing good or productive happens when I don’t get a good night's sleep. I bought an Oura Ring a few months ago, and I nerd out on it all the time. The first thing I look at when I wake up is my sleep score.
How does the design of your studio reflect your priorities and goals?
The studio is an open space. The center of it has two work benches with paint supplies, and one part is for administrative priorities. The walls are covered with paintings. This is to say, the entire space is just about making work. And my goals are just that simple. Make art every day.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive to the studio?
Answer emails (boring!) and then I start painting.
Are there any daily or weekly tasks at the studio you always enjoy?
I try to keep the studio as organized and clean as I can. I straighten up frequently and water my plants. It helps me think clearly. The fantasy of a messy artist's studio doesn’t work for me.
How does music play a part in your daily life?
I go through phases. This week it’s been Harry Nillson, last week it was The Beastie Boys. The week before it was The Elvis Soundtrack. And I do listen to a ton of podcasts. So it varies, as you can tell.
How do you keep yourself energized throughout the day?
Exercise. Mostly weight training and yoga. And my morning smoothie which has a ridiculous amount of stuff in it.
Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re feeling creatively blocked?
I take a step back and try not to force it. That usually means that I’ll leave the studio and do something to get me out of my head. Go for a walk, get a massage, do a yoga nidra meditation. I’ll lean into self-care stuff which allows me to relax.
Most creative blocks come from feeling tense and constricted—and flow state is the goal. But the best way to kick me out of creative stagnation is to travel. I went to NYC in July, walked eight miles a day, and went to see every museum show I could. I couldn’t wait to come back home to paint—it completely invigorated me.
What’s the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
Be committed and be consistent.
It’s really as simple as that. Show up to the studio every day, put in the time, and put as much care and attention toward your work as you can. There’s no quick fix, no overnight success. And also: make sure you love what you do. If you don’t, you probably won’t show up at all.
What’s the best spot in your studio? Why?
It’s an open space, but I would say the couches by the large open windows that look out onto the courtyard.
What's your go-to method for unwinding after a long day?
Swimming with my dog, Buck Henry.
What's your favorite time of day and why?
Early morning. It’s quiet, it’s coffee time, and it’s full of possibilities.