Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on November 16, 2012

CHICAGO — The 30th 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.

Ripley Whiteside, Montreal, Canada (site)

This is my first studio out of grad school. The photo hides the fact that this is also my bedroom and is in the apartment that I share with my wife, our dog, and our cat. I was initially apprehensive about this set up, worried that I wouldn’t be able to get breathing room away from my work. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened and I completely love the space. My wife is doing coursework towards a PhD, so the house is charged with a very productive study-hall vibe. Waking up in my workspace everyday forces me to be tidier than I have been in the past. This is something I’ve found to be useful. The windows provide a nice view of our park across the street and excellent natural light.

Visible here are most of my necessities: ceramic ink dishes, ink (jars on the self are homemade walnut ink), brushes, easel, headphones (indispensable), the rudimentary homemade flat file stocked with panels and all sorts of paper, my Big Boy talisman. Not visible: books, scanner, and dog (who in spite of her largish size constantly tries to weasel her way into the tiny spaces between my feet and the easel).

Lee Shiney, Wichita, Kansas (site)

If I were to have a signature style, it would involve circles and tools. There is a turntable that measures 2.1 meters in diameter, with a scaffolding over it so I can reach the middle of paintings. There is a ceiling mounted laser pointed at the exact center of the turntable; you get the picture of where the circles might come from. Lots of things are movable with casters, even the large trash can. I work in a basement, so good lighting is critical; I make some of these with gallon plastic paint buckets that hold two screw-in fixtures with one each of a bright white and cool white CFL, for good color balance.

A central workbench is used for building about everything, and painting smaller paintings. Shelves along one wall hold over 100 beer boxes repurposed into storage boxes with labels. I have an air hose for tools and staplers. In a far corner is an encaustic area with a fan modified with a charcoal filter. In the right foreground you see a board with clips to organize my projects and commissions. In the connecting furnace room is a 1×3 meter sink I built with a foot-controlled faucet for washing brushes. In the left foreground you even see a dedicated photo-strobe-softbox for photographing and documenting artwork. This space is still evolving, but it achieves the goal as an inviting place that encourages getting work done. Plenty of tools make work enjoyable, rather than a struggle.

Gay Gawron, Manchester, New Hampshire (link)

This is my work space in my modest apartment. The windows are north facing and give consistent light throughout most of the day. I protect the floor with a plastic Asian-looking carpet that I bought at the Asian market. The small table on the right side of the picture is where I work on my woodcarvings, and of course the easel is where I work on my paintings. My cat is always grabbing my paintbrushes so I keep a jar with straws close by and hand him a straw and tell him it is a paint brush.

Mark Schoening, Los Angeles, California (site)

My garage is a very simple functioning studio. The ongoing organization of supplies along with the rearrangement of compositions in the paintings are both ongoing challenges. It’s important to have order among the creative chaos, and my supplies are arranged into Photoshop-style tool bars.

When I step into my space, I am temporarily transported away from reality and don’t mind waving to the occasional dog walker passing through the alley.

Ted Willis, Ottawa, Canada (site)

A year ago me and 10 other artists leased 2,600 sq.ft. of empty warehouse space and converted it into 11 studios, washroom, office, and gallery. My semi-private space is 11’x24′, 264 sq. ft., lit by neon, pot lamps, and natural light from a large window in an adjacent studio. The ceiling is 15ft high which allows for suspended loft storage. The environment is open, congenial, but the industrial context (we share the warehouse with an electrical contractor, a building supplier, and an architect) reinforces our commitment to our individual studio practices. It does feel like I’m going to and returning from “work” each day, but the fact that I’m working at my own art makes it seamless with the rest of my life.

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