Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on August 9, 2012

CHICAGO — The twenty-second installment of a series (Part 123456789101112,  1314151617181920, 21) in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace.

Want to take part? You can peruse the submission guidelines here.

Duane Thomas, Bedminster, Pennsylvania (site)

When I was 30 I did what they tell you not to do and quit my job in advertising so I could devote my days to painting. I moved to my grandmother’s farmhouse, which benefits us both, as she needs someone to live with her and I need time and a place.

My studio is on the third floor and as you can see it’s one of the great artistic clichés — the lonely garret where I slave away unbeknownst to the art world at large. I paint in oils so I have a system of fans set up for ventilation.

In the summer it can get pretty hot. I can’t exactly say how this setup influences my work except that I feel privileged to have these years to develop.

Talia Shulze, Brooklyn, New York (site)

My studio is part of a room in my apartment, which has its limitations, but I feel fortunate that I have a space that I like to work in that is so easily accessible to me. I had a studio outside my home for a while and I would sometimes guilt myself into going even if I was not in a mood to do anything decent with my time there. It is nice to have somewhere to go but other times I felt the same way as I would when I had to force myself to go to the gym or something.

I am very interested in patterns in nature, graphic design and also in textiles so one of the nice things about being at home is I can keep a lot of books and interesting objects around me, like my Croton Petra plants that I have been making a lot of drawings based on lately.

A typical day in the studio: I will wake up around 7:00 am, have some coffee or tea, put on some music, and paint for a few hours, then take a break for breakfast and let things dry for a bit. Then I will either start some new paintings or go back in to existing ones to add to them for the rest of the day. The hard part is when I run out of space for letting things dry.

Mariella Bisson, Woodstock, New York (site)

My husband David Gubits and I worked with FT Architecture (Peter Franck & Kathleen Trieme) to design our geothermal and solar home, with about 2,000 sq ft devoted to my studio and art storage.

I need to back up to see my paintings so the space is open to the rest of the lower floor, allowing me a clear view of the easel and work wall across about 60 feet. The sunlight is soft and constant, and after 26 years of freezing in Brooklyn lofts, I am thrilled to have geothermal radiant heat under the floor.

I chose a red oak floor to suggest a one-room schoolhouse or factory. Even though it was all scary-perfect when it was new, I just jumped in there and got down to it. I paint here all day every day and I enjoy messing it up. I love this space.

Kurt Ankeny, Ipswich, Massachussetts (site)

I’ve just completed modifications to my studio. Here it is in full painting mode. I made all of the furniture in here, though the steel flat file was traded for some art lessons. The drafting table is central in the room; it’s where I do most of my reading, thinking and drawing.

I sit on a school chair to stare down my paintings in progress across the room. I’m tall, so I’ve built my painting table to be over 40″, high which eliminates hunching over to mix my paints. There’s a terrible view of acres of parking lot, which is good because it isn’t distracting. Unfortunately the landlord replaced the original windows just before he showed it to me. They were roughly twice as tall and wide as the vinyl ones. His thinking: “Who needs all of that light?”

John Wentz, San Francisco, California (site)

This, by far, has been the best studio I’ve ever had. From left to right: My main drafting table, which sits underneath my storage loft. I do a lot of drawing and a lot of studies before working on a piece. The entirety of that part of the process happens there.

To the right on the wall I have a variety of gauges, calipers and triangles along with other drawing tools. These all aid in putting together the composition of the painting. Moving over is another drafting table lying almost flat. Everything but actual drawing happens here; measuring, cutting and sometimes painting. In front of that is a cabinet, which has a variety of mediums. I really love experimenting and working with different mediums and devote a fair amount of time to researching them. Next to that is a mobile taboret with an architect’s lamp attached to it. Sometimes I use the palette on the taboret or just use the lamp so I can get the best lighting possible. The studio has no windows so it’s very easy to control light and keep it consistent.

I stretch canvases and do a majority of the painting while the canvas is on the wall. I don’t use any traditional formats so I cut and mount everything myself. I don’t like the “spring” of canvas on stretcher bar. The resistance of the wall feels great. It’s like a stubborn fight. To the right is another palette — my main mobile one. It’s really a glass desk, but makes an amazing palette, which allows me to mix up big piles of paint. Continuing to the right and behind are more blank walls, which usually have work on them. I move from wall to wall, working on many pieces at once.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Larkin/10910886 Danny Larkin

    This is such a fascinating window into how artists actually work…

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