Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on January 28, 2013

CHICAGO — The 32nd 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.

Jen Hintz, Wilmington, Delaware (link)

HintzThis is my newly minted home studio (just moved), which closely resembles my previous space that I rented and shared for several years. The windows face northwest so I’m looking forward to some good ambient light and some afternoon glow come spring/summer. I’m sure I’ll gather sketches and photographs of ideas on the wall as I get more projects going, but this is a pretty good idea of how I work.

If I need the drawing table I move stuff aside, but usually I either sketch on the futon (or outside) or paint at my easel. My paint cart holds my glass palette and beloved fish tackle box of oil paints (the acrylics are relegated to the bottom since I don’t use them much). Behind my easel is my collection of loose pigments for making paint, mediums for making the paint (gum arabic, powdered chalk, and linseed oil), a large mason jar of mineral spirits that I refill my palette jar with as needed, mixing slab and muller, dust masks and gloves, gouaches inks and colored pencils, and an entire box of clamps of various types. Hiding between the table and futon is a container with piles and piles of decorative papers waiting to be cut up and affixed to things. My books and past prep drawings/paintings/images are currently on the table since I haven’t built shelves in the closet for them yet.

Out of view: More sundry materials are under the futon along with my blank canvases. Also lots and lots of fabric, and a mischievous cat who is not allowed in my studio (heaven forbid he find my lead tin yellow pigment or something equally horrible).

Baltazar Castillo, Chicago, Illinois (site)

CastilloThis is my studio on an early morning in May. The picture was taken around 10 am, about the time I head downstairs to the studio.

In the studio are several in-progress, large-scale, mixed media pieces. On any given day the works rotate to the first room, visible here, from a second room where this picture was taken. The house my studio occupies is an old one with wooden floorboards that squeak. The studio is littered with snippets of canvas, magazines, plastic bottles, acrylic paint caps, brushes stiff with dried pigment that litters the studio floor, the window ledge, the surfaces of my paintings. And then there are the sounds. The sounds of the house creaking and early morning city life are a constant: one neighbor greeting another, the sharp click-clacking of heels striking the walkways, drowned later in the day by the music from a passing car’s stereo on Honore Street. The music recedes with the distance of the vehicle passing, then it’s quiet again. It might be during such an interlude that this picture was taken. The painting propped on the stool has just been sanded down. It will be completed later that day. The red plastic tumbler I’ve had for years. As an object, it’s nothing special, but the feel of it in my palm, tapping fingers on its surface, are things I’ve gotten used to. Having just noticed the tumbler as a bright red speck out of the corner of my eye, as I moved from one studio to the next, it’s possible that I placed the painting on the stool and snapped the picture.

Sheryl Budnik, Comstock Park, Michigan (site)

Budnik-studioI paint with a palette knife, oil pigments, and rags. No solvents — a very clean way to paint. My studio is a repurposed large upstairs room vacated by a grown daughter. Yes, that is a 1950s carpet on the floor, but who cares? I spent some money on big, new windows, though. The Hopper print on the floor opens to the ocean that I love and paint incessantly. I start a painting with some images in a color palette I’d like to try, pulled from my gigantic book of painting references. I throw them on the floor, get the pigments on my table, and start painting. Working on a dark red ground, I feel a horizon line, rule it in, and go from there. The paint, color, and marks bump up against each other and push me around on the surface of the canvas. Sometimes it’s elegaic, sometimes it’s a battle.

Greg Larson, Memphis, Tennessee (site)

LarsonI make abstractions out of broken glass, foil, and chocolate wrappers — things that are translucent or reflective, broken or discarded. I give them new life. My studio is in a small bedroom in the back of the house, and due to the nature of my work, I have to sweep several times daily. Like so many other things in my life, I often just sweep it under the table! What you see here is my Magic Round Work Table. On it are piles of separated, broken shards of glass, a caulk dispenser, nitrile gloves, a box I use to break glass in that’s on top of my hammer, a work in progress, a pile of chocolate wrappers, and a handy-dandy whisk broom/dust tray combination, among other nonessential items that must be there for critical reasons but which, for the life of me, I can’t recall. We will be moving to a larger house with a garage soon so I can create an even bigger mess. In the meantime, this has been a productive work space. The Magic Round Work Table goes with me.

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  • Nancy Charak

    Phil, it’s always reassuring to see other artist’s studios to get a feel for how they work and think.

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