Articles

A View from the Easel

CHICAGO — The 77th 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.

Madeleine Thornton-Smith, Melbourne, Australia (site)

Madeleine Thornton-Smith - A View from the Easel

This is my honours studio at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia. I have been working on a large-scale mural this year that is site-specific to my studio space. I have become interested in questioning the politics of the Australian landscape and discovering the liminal space between natural and the man-made, real space, and representative space. Collage and painting in all their forms allows me to examine this threshold between worlds. I am trying to paint this year a collaged mural, which will take up my entire studio space, including the ceiling. I would like to create the sensation of complete immersion in a space, as if the viewer were stepping into a painting. Through collage, I am able to question, layer by layer, what constitutes the traditional idea of “landscape painting” (for example, that which contains a background, middle ground and foreground, a horizon of mountainous ridges and a careful planning of pictorial space organising according to principles such as the Golden Mean). Collage allows a subversion of time and space through the juxtaposition of imagery and context. I am interested in creating spaces that see through to other spaces, to create impossible heterotopic “non-places” that question the socially constructed idea of landscape.

Marlaina Donato, Blairstown, New Jersey (site)

Donato

My first studio was a corner of a living room in a crowded apartment, so my current space is a dream-come-true. Two rooms in length with glass doors overlooking three and a half acres of seasons, it houses two easels, a work station, and drawers of supplies … paints, canvas, tools, and a corner for my acoustic guitars, keyboard, and hand drums.

At night, after the noise from the road dies down, I can hear the Trout river a few hundred feet behind our house and the occasional owl. People say I live in God’s country, but for me, it’s muse country. I don’t have to dig too deeply to be inspired where I see ravens swoop down on the deck outside the studio glass doors or glimpse the river flowing into the distance on stark winter days.

My goal is to have a painting in progress up on the easel at all times, and mornings are my favorite time to put brush in hand as Gregorian chant or Vivaldi set the mood and pinon incense burns. I set up where everything is within arm’s length — rags, sponges, brushes, linseed and walnut oil, and of course, a view from the window offering snippets of beauty.

I am reminded daily what a gift it is to create, to take the mud of life and bring forth a lotus, so to speak, unfolding to the light. Art, like the artist’s studio, is not a luxury — but a necessity during changing times.

Jeff Page, Santa Barbara, California (site)

Page
This is an image of my studio in Santa Barbara. Chaos is a good friend of mine. Things are constantly shuffling around as I work, and I always need to organize things more. I have multiple tables and work stations for various tasks so I can work on various things all at once. The table in the foreground of this image is the work area for my totems from the “built familials” body of work that I began this year.

Penny Reinecke, Perth, Australia

Reinecke

I am a very amateur artist. I love art and my studio is full of ‘stuff’: stuff I collect, bits and pieces, art books, other people’s art.

As you may be able to see, I collect magnets from art exhibitions I have visited. My pin up board is a constantly changing frame for things I like or find but I am not quite sure why there is a space on it at the moment. That is not usual!

Some of the things on the pin up board: the sailor comes from the Arcadia — a now de-commissioned boat that brought me from England to Australia when I was three years old. And if you look just under it you will see a little flying man? That is the art of a Perth Street artist Stormie Mills (you really need to check his work — it is AWESOME!). I have a deck chair that he painted and I bought at an auction years ago. The Matisse prints are from the Matisse Cutouts exhibition in London. There are a few drawings I picked up in a Paris flea market, as well as a framed portrait from maybe the late 1800s, some icons (I LOVE Icons), a couple of small pictures I bought from an artist I met in Brussels in a cafe, stuff from my daughters, a couple of my paintings, and some others from a place in Paris and a couple of postcards of an artist friend (whose classes I love to go to — but she lives far away).

Then on the shelves there are bottles and shells and jars and leaves and stuff I have picked up from who knows where. I have boxes of stuff to use for collage. At the moment my table is tidy, but it is usually a bit of a mess, probably because I can’t decide what I want to do! You can see the lampshade is a bit wonky — a bit like me really. On the left of the photo are the louvered walls looking out to my library, which is filled to the brim with books on art and has a vibrant pink ‘Matisse’ pattern fabric covered comfy sofa.

I will never be much of an artist, but I keep trying.

Michelle Pearce, Ontario, Canada (site)

Pearce

I love the view of the forest; trees are the best companions. The butterfly ceiling lets the light in from all sides, which is important to me. The sofa is for catnaps. Here you can see my standing table, my sitting desk, my sculpture stand and my easel. (I need to be able to turn the tables on myself!) Oh, and two of my feline critics.

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