Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on February 20, 2013

CHICAGO — The 34th 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.

Lynn Basa, Chicago, Illinois (site)

Lynn Basa's studio Chicago

In 2008 I bought an old apartment building that I rent to artists and art students. Earlier this year, the storefront tenant I inherited, a Mexican bridal boutique, broke her lease. I had every intention of trying to find another tenant, but after she moved out the floor-to-ceiling frou frou and I saw the beautiful light in the space, the wood floors, the 11’ high tin ceilings, suddenly I was no longer content with the basement studio in my home. When I couldn’t find anyone to rent it I was relieved to let fate decide that the only “sensible” decision I could make was to move in there myself. So I divided the store up into four spaces (plus a kitchenette) and took this area in the front.

Last month, the artist in the large studio next to mine suddenly moved right about the time I started getting commissions for larger paintings. It’s only been a few weeks but having all of this space has created an evolutionary leap in my work — not to mention how much better I feel about having people over for studio visits. It’s also nice to have a wall to work behind so that I’m not in full view of everyone walking by. Working in a storefront is like being in a fish bowl but it’s been really fascinating to see who gets drawn in by the work I have all over the walls.

Austin Reavis, Cowan, Tennessee (site)

reavis studio
Rent could not be cheaper in the one-horse town where my studio is located. I am a sculptor by degree, but a jack of all trades at the moment, with sign-work, mural painting, and architecture under my belt. Drawing is the focus of my studio practice, so a pencil and pad of paper are all I really need.
Recently, my work has expanded into book making and I seem to be acquiring new pieces of equipment every day. Two risographs, a folding machine and other odd-and-ends take up a second room in the same building.
I have discovered that, so long as I receive a constant supply of morning light, I will call wherever I lay my sketchpad a studio.

Ted Willis, Ottawa, Canada (site)

willis studio

A little over a year ago I got together with 11 other people to form an artist-run space, Platform Gallery and Studios. The space is 4,000 sq. ft. inside one half of a warehouse, and includes 1 studios, a washroom, office/storage/washup area, and gallery.

My studio is 12’ x 31′ with 15′ high ceilings. The view in the picture is from the storage space into the work area. A 4’ x 8’ platform, where I store finished pieces, is suspended from ceiling girders. In the winter, we heat with a large industrial, electric (and noisy) heater hung from the ceiling. But spring through fall we can get fresh air through the front gallery door and large warehouse door in the rear. Light is supplied by three 6’ x 10′ windows facing south, neon fixtures in the ceiling, and whatever else individual artists set up. We get along well together, occasionally visiting each others’ spaces to see what’s going on, but mostly everyone is focused on their work. In other words, it’s a good place to make art among congenial peers

Amy Rice, Minneapolis, Minnesota (site)

Amy Rice studio 640wide

Here is an aerial view of my studio. I am printing the sky of a seascape with antique letterpress letters. I have had the song “Rock the Boat” stuck in my head since I was three (seriously) and I thought writing out the lyrics in a practical way would help (it didn’t). I am a mixed media artist and each day in my studio I challenge myself to learn new techniques and discover ways to use my tools in new ways.

Jessica Langley, Washington, DC (site)

langley_studio

My table is where most of the magic happens. I made it out of a cheap hollow-core door, two by fours, and some saw horses. I use a lot of collage materials, watercolor, powdered graphite, cut paper, ink jet prints, and random pics of “eco porn” in my work. It’s my “messy zone.”

The flat file is my most prized possession, and I move it around like a dead baby (I’ve moved once or twice a year for the past eight years, with the longest stint ever being in Richmond during grad school, then Pittsburgh for two years a bit later). It usually collects things like library books and bits of paper on the surface, but I mainly store my paper cutter and cutting mat on top of it. The bottom drawer of the flat file contains ephemera from various shows/projects and art work from friends. The second drawer is where I keep work on paper from my art collection that is not currently hanging on the walls in my living space. The third drawer is where I store most of my completed works on paper. The fourth drawer is where I keep paper to be used for new art, and the top drawer is where I keep materials used for framing (i.e. foam core, matte board, and museum board).

The bookshelf in the corner is where I store things that I need on hand daily like pencils, inks, markers, rags, magazines, boxes of small works, and my source image files. Hanging on one end of the shelf is a system for drying brushes upside down, constructed out of clothes pins and fishing line (a rather novel invention I learned from a fellow classmate in school that I wish I could take credit for).

Most of my storage is in the basement (not pictured) where I keep tools, framed works, and several giant tubes full of large works on paper. Off to the right is an old A/V cart I got at a yard sale in Cleveland. In it I store an airbrush compressor, solvents, oil paints, etc. My palette was made to fit the top of the cart perfectly. It is on wheels, so it’s easy to push around as needed. Not pictured is a beautiful easel that my dad built me, which I use when I work on panels.

My studio is in my living space. But, we found this (relatively) giant space that used to be a Seventh Day Adventist Church. The first floor is a living room, kitchen, and my studio. So, while I’m supposed to keep it tidy, I get a little lazy sometimes. I keep a giant, gross old rug on the floor to help protect the landlord’s nice hard wood floors. I can spill all sorts of things on it, and I don’t care.

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