Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on December 26, 2013

CHICAGO — The 54th installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Terry Ward, Brooklyn, New York (site)

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Amid industrial ruins, a swoosh of airborne water is about to splosh across four art panels. They sit horizontally on planks atop sawhorses in this nomadic painting set-up. Cans of paint are out of view on the ground. The art process is too messy, too floor-damaging, too fumes-making to do indoors. (I tried. People complained. It wasn’t pretty.) So I paint outdoors. The exact sites vary. That’s a disadvantage during those “studio visit” events, usually I just can’t bring the public in to such places. There are surprisingly few places one can go to make messy art and not be hassled (by passers-by, cops, guards, New Security enforcers, nosy-ones, thugs) and recent disasters like SuperStorm Sandy and the huge fire at Sims/NYC Recycling made it even harder to get access to usable blank land.

Where to set up sometimes depends on the anticipated techniques: gonna need more than a few bucketloads of water? Then: need a site with a hose. Gonna fire a gun at a can of spraypaint? Can’t do that in the city! Gotta use one of my painting sites in the South where anything goes. The urban site pictured here has the ever-present sumac weed-trees of abandoned areas. In the background on the left at an angle is a finished panel, and near it on that concrete block wall dangles “Reserve Painting Pants #3″ — both dishearteningly difficult hard to distinguish from the surrounding rubble.

Mary Ann Pomonis, Los Angeles, California (site)

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I work in a converted garage. The industrial air tools I use to airbrush make a lot of noise so I can only work from 9am–9pm in order to not disturb my neighbors. My neighbors are fine with the noise, probably because they are all working and not at home during the day.

In the first picture you can see the portrait of Elizabeth Taylor above my paint table. Elizabeth was given to my by my friend Pierre and the test bomb was a gift of the site I found buried in the garage when I bought the house. I see Elizabeth as my muse and inspiration and the bomb as an impending threat via the doom of complacency. Right now I am working on two different series, the first “Autor de Ma Chambre” seen in the second picture is based on a short story by Xavier Maistre about a vacation that takes place in a room much like an artist’s studio. I have painted mirror tiles that when installed (here they are in production) project the viewer into the space of the painting.

Timothy Lee, Brooklyn, New York (site)

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My studio is located in a refurbished industrial warehouse in Williamsburg, in a part of the neighborhood where gentrification and history are clashing constantly (luxury condos rising next to rows of warehouses). The studio has giant windows near the ceiling that flood the entire space with sunlight in the afternoon that transitions into a warm glow by early evening.

I love building what I need from scratch, rather than spending money to buy it, so most of the furniture in my studio was [shabbily] built by me.

In the middle of the picture is my palette table, which I built using only leftover wood planks, wood glue, and a few screws. On top of the table I purchased a sheet of glass from an automobile shop for my palette.

I absolutely love my studio. It’s a safe haven where I can take risks and experiment with my works.

Morgan Russell, Boston, Massachussetts (site)

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This is my summer studio in our barn (in winter I paint in the cellar). My work table/palette is in front of the window which looks out back. We have conservation land abutting the property.

I mostly work from photos (which I take) on my computer. I’m about 20 miles from Boston and have been back here since leaving New York City in 2006.

Being close to nature is a great benefit to me as a painter, I only have to take a walk out back to figure out where to begin next.

Peri Schwartz, New Rochelle, New York (site)

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My studio, for the past eighteen years, has been the corner office on the tenth floor of an office building in downtown New Rochelle. It has beautiful light, which is essential to my work, as I paint and draw directly from life.

The studio has been my subject since art school. I use it as a stage set, reconfiguring it and moving things around constantly, searching for a composition that interests me.

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