Articles

View from the Easel, Part 5

by Philip A Hartigan on February 23, 2012

CHICAGO — The fifth installment of a series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) in which artists send me a photo and a description of their workspace. Click here to see guidelines for submissions.

Richard Kooyman, Chicago, Illinois (site)

Central to the work is my rolling painting table. I’ve built several of these in the past and am about to build another one. I never can seem to get it right. This one needs bigger wheels so it will roll easier. One the left is a big flat table that I use for everything. I’ve always painted just flat on the way rather than on an easel. I like the stability of painting on the wall. The tree outside the window is dead.

Daria Dorosh, New York City (site)

Since 2004, my art medium has been moving toward textile. That has affected my studio use, which now feels like a 20th century display and storage space to me. But I still use a collage-assemblage approach in making textile sculptures with suggestive narratives and associations. A tabletop is now my studio, which makes me uneasy, but happy at the same time. So I am currently making small, soft, portable, ‘comfort objects’ for adults for my next show. I am questioning “the wall” as a site for my art because it can easily be programmed into the art making process itself, which can make art self-conscious and undermine its authenticity. For me, small is the new big, and a studio must be portable to anywhere I happen to be.

Susan Shulman, Montreal, Canada (site)

This is the view as I lean up against the window behind me. My room is wall-to-wall paintings, music CDs and clutter. I have egg shell cartons everywhere that I use for my oil paint. When I am finished the session, I just close the lids and put them in the freezer for later. I like to see all my paint and brushes around me. I have shelves packed with other mediums and papers. The easel is over 20 years old and I got it from one of my first art teachers in Montreal, Rita Briansky. I was in awe when I picked it up from her studio. At that time it was already coated in layers of paint drips. I felt honoured to touch and use her easel. It was magical. Now it is caked with my paint and history. The easel is falling apart in places, but I would never want to part with it. When I am working on large canvases, I tape them directly on the walls in another room.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Cornville, Arizona (site)

Although I paint primarily en plein air, it’s necessary for me to have a good studio space. Mine is the size of a small bedroom with a good window (north), plus a mix of incandescent and fluorescent lamps. The easel pictured is where I fine-tune my outdoor work once I bring it indoors, and also where I work on the occasional studio piece based on plein air references and photos. The work bench – just a sheet of plywood on two metal sawhorses – is where I can prepare painting panels, frame, and do almost anything else I need to do that’s not at the easel. In this photo, I’ve just sized a bunch of hardboard panels in preparation of applying acrylic gesso. It’s a comfortable space, well within reach of my wireless headphones. Musical tastes are eclectic, and the music choice depends on the project at hand. For gessoing panels, I’ve been listening to Patti Smith’s Radio Ethiopia album.

Greg Minah, Baltimore, Maryland (site)

I make abstract paintings by pouring thinned out acrylic paint onto the canvas and then tilting and turning the stretcher to precisely control the flow of the medium. The drip-testing canvas next to my painting table tells me how the paint will behave when I pour. Often, a layer is partially removed with pressurized water before it has a chance to completely cure, the water runoff travels down the trough that leads to a collection container. This process is a collaboration, of sorts, between the material and me. And my studio continues to change as my methods evolve.

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