CHICAGO — The 73rd 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.

Robert Forman, Hoboken, New Jersey, (site)


My studio is in a converted 1898 Fire House. One of Engine Company 5’s claims to fame is that Frank Sinatra’s father was once the captain here.

As a Fulbright Scholar, I have spent a lot of time in Mexico, as can be seen by the bags and weavings hanging on my walls.

The cat’s name is Sampson.

The beer bottles are for my current picture based on the song “100 bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Nanci Erskine, Fort Collins, Colorado (site)


Teaching made my life somewhat nomadic, and I rented spaces for 20-something years, and I worked in some pretty tiny studios. When I initially moved here, I thought the basement ceilings were too low to make it a workable space. So, I continued to rent studio space elsewhere.

Funny what installing track lighting and giving all the walls and ceiling a fresh coat of white paint does for your perception of height! (Once we fixed the gutters, the floor didn’t flood anymore either.) When my last studio building was about to be sold, I decided to finally move everything home. I love not paying rent and now have room for everything in one place.

From left: an 18×20 on an easel, and my painting wall. I’ve been working on a series about tangled prairie grasslands and you can see a larger painting in progress. I recently completed an 11-foot-long commission, so it’s a nice big wall area. Then a few tiny paintings in progress, shelves with small canvases, painting and framing supplies, and other tools. Then, in back, a table with my Griffin press, and some flat files storing paper, drawings, and prints. There’s a desk area behind the shelves on the right, with business and office supplies, a scanner which I’ve been using to convert all those old slides into digital files, and my collection of postcards, things ripped out of art magazines, and other odd and ends.

On the right side of the space is my drawing area — with supplies on the shelves. Several boxes in this area hold smaller paintings filed away. In the other part of our basement, I built racks to hold larger pieces. It all works pretty well, and gives me enough room to have several works in progress in various media going at once. They all end up informing each other, but I do need to resist the impulse to ping-pong back and forth between the walls (focus … focus). In a way, it’s like a perfectly laid out kitchen work triangle!

Advantages to working at home: I can zip downstairs and see something that isn’t working in a painting, make a note, or slap some paint on it to remind me what I want to do when I have more time. Most mornings, I grab some coffee and go work in my jammies.

Nancy Benton, Newark, California (site)


This is a picture of the main work area in my studio. It’s large enough for me to put together frames and has two walls I can use for painting. There are two smaller rooms. One I use for storage and the other has a tall work surface that I use to generate ideas. My studio is located on the second floor above an insurance office and next to a realtor.

Right behind our building is a small local library, park and the train tracks. My studio is in a very unsexy city of Newark, which is a typical California suburb, but the rent is reasonable and it is very close to Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, and San Francisco.

I’ve had this space for about half a year and it has become a haven for me. I am so happy and thankful that I had the courage to jump in and sign the lease because it has been the perfect place for me to build my work.

Shira Chai, Mount Tabor, Israel (site)


I am a member of Kibbutz Ein Dor on the gentle slopes of Mt. Tabor in the lower Galilee. In 1982, the kibbutz divided an old chicken coop into studios for the resident artists, artisans, and photographers. There, among the cows, horses, and chickens, is my studio.

In 2009 I started painting like crazy. I have found a way to partner my paintings with my words.

I began to scratch and emboss my poetry into the paint. At first I painted only in acrylics to teach my students better technique. Soon I returned to my original passion: oil painting. Here is a poem about coming to my studio to paint with humor:

I slip away before dawn,
I slip away for a few precious moments,
I slip away in silence before anyone stirs except the cat,
I slip away to immerse myself with you my darling brush.

Chantal Khoury, Montreal, Canada (site)


I grew up in the Maritimes in Canada, so I was surrounded by rural environments and an abundance of space. Now, I live and work on my oil painting practice in the urban city of Montreal. It can be difficult to create your artistic sanctuary following the same standards, but we all find a way.

This one room is shared by painters, musicians, and sculptors. We work in a historic building which was a former textile mill. There is something about working in a room with so much history that cannot be explained in words.

Philip Hartigan is a UK-born artist and writer who now lives, works and teaches in Chicago. He also writes occasionally for Time Out-Chicago. Personal narratives (his own, other peoples', and invented)...

3 replies on “A View from the Easel”

  1. I get so inspired when I look at these places and then frustrated because my house is so too small and too expensive.

  2. Every artist looks for a corner that he can call his own. But sadly most artists live
    hand to mouth and get recognition after long periods of struggle. These lofts
    and studio made me realize that I was not alone in this world. There are others
    who are making the best of circumstances, and not giving up on their dreams. My
    favorite was the first, as I have travelled to Mexico too and the place holds a
    special place in my heart.

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