Articles

A View from the Easel

by Philip A Hartigan on April 22, 2013

CHICAGO — The 37th 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.

Ariel Gout, Berlin, Germany (site)

Gout

My studio is located on the fourth and top floor of an old margarine factory. The photo, taken from the door, gives an idea of the stunning skyline view. I often move the tables around and work at either the long desk or the round table. But one way or another — as long as there is a little bit of day light and no strong northern wind — I sit next to the windows.

I like to keep the environment simple, clean and comfortable; the hyacinths are helping me to wait for the spring, and the rug is here to warm up my feet and the space. I work mostly with paper, ink and thread. I sew, embroider, and join papers together either by hand or with the sewing machine now lying on the floor. Behind it, on the left hand side, the shelves are supporting many second-hand German books from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s about biology, zoology, histology, flowers, plants, insects, birds, etc. They are richly illustrated and  I use them for collage and as inspiration sources.

On the right hand side stands my little found radio; it keeps me connected with German language and classical music via “Kulturradio vom RBB” during my long, intensive, and much enjoyed working days. Also important but not visible on the photo are the two lateral walls I use to hang my multipanel drawings and the corner where I make tea. This glimpse into my “Atelier” should offer a good idea of how peaceful and a quiet haven for creativeness it is.

Aleksander Betko, New York City (site)

Betko

I welcome you to an average day in my studio. What you are seeing is a work in progress that is rather large (58″ x 48″) hence the need for a formidable studio easel. All canvases are hand stretched Belgian linen on double weight stretchers and hand prepared with natural sizing and two coats of white oil paint. I tend to keep about three works on rotation at a given time to work out a variety of issues as they arise. This process is also instrumental in evolving a number of themes.

My palette is as old fashioned as it can get. It is a slab of masonite that has been with me for I have no idea how many years and has developed piles of paint in an orderly fashion. I use the cold northern light of day to paint in as it shows any and all flaws and imperfections to the painting along the way, as well as exposing the accuracy of the intended color with no pardon. I have a large mirror to constantly check my accuracy of drawing. Brushes of different sizes are kept close by as well as my mahl stick, which in essence is my left hand. I use it to rule straight lines and lean on when painting in fine detail. There is always music playing on the stereo, and books are always handy as references to how the Old Masters painted and what the world was like for my role models such as Mapplethorpe, Haring, and Patti Smith.

Bogumil Bronkowski, De Kalb, Illinois (site)

Bronkowski

My studio is located in my living room. Right behind me, my fiancee has her studio space. The apartment became pretty spacious after we moved the couch to the study. The table to the left is used for sketching and/or letting things dry. The corner table holds brushes and supplies I use on a daily basis, like oil and acrylics. The next table holds my palette and the rest of my brushes.

Between the two drafting tables I have two plastic shelving units where I store all my paints and drawing supplies. Behind the easel, I have either finished paintings or works in progress. To prevent damaging the carpet in the apartment I use a blue tarp, and it has done its job more than once.

Not seen in the picture, but just to the right of the camera, is the coffee table that is located under the kitchen table, and they are both used as drying racks for my paintings. The linen closet holds most of my tools and other knickknacks, which are all in book shelves that are placed on top of other shelves. Playing Tetris at a young age helped with creating the most efficient and compact space possible.

Ives Salbert, Fairfax, Virginia (site)

Salbert

My workspace is in a historic Civil War house built in 1835. It’s called the William Gunnell House and it’s located right in the heart of Fairfax, Virginia. Apparently the room where I set up my easel is the old bedroom of the Union General Edwin Stoughton. He was captured by Ranger John Mosby while he was asleep in this room in March 9, 1863. Thinking of the history of the house and the stories it can tell really gets my imagination geared up for telling my own stories through paint.

The room has a well worn character to it and doesn’t have any heat. It wasn’t by choice, but the fact that I have no heat in my studio does sort of give the studio a romanticized struggling artist vibe. In the photo you can see a space heater by my chair, but I can only use it for fifteen minutes every couple hours or the electricity will go out. Every day in the studio turns into some sort of painting adventure and I actually kind of get a kick out of how quirky the building can be.

Coffee, trail mix, and soup have all become staple food items in my studio so I can hang around and paint as long as I want. I don’t live in the space, but I’m always there painting or teaching a student at the drafting table next to my easel. This studio has become the perfect haven for me to paint and dive into my ongoing creative process. For me, being productive and growing in my technique is drastically helped by hanging my work (and blank canvases) on the walls around me so I can see what I’ve done and where I may be going. I’m very focused on refining my voice and process and feel very fortunate to have a cool little space to do that.

Tyler Kline, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (site)

Kline

I work at an art school as a maintenance mechanic, and this is my work space, tinkerer’s closet, and storage shed. After hours and on breaks, I fix electrical apparatuses that others discard, edit video, take pictures, pull machines apart, and attach motors to bits of wire, plastic and mirrors. I draw in space with extension cords, power strips, and compact florescence.

Through my job I have learned basic wiring, systems of ventilation, and mechanical engineering. I apply this skill set to my installation practice, with careful attention to light and shadow, kinetics, and movement through space. I also have a small table for mold making and wax working, taking advantage of the foundry one floor below my work station.

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