CHICAGO — The 86th 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.

Shane Davis, Boston, Massachussetts (site)


This is my studio space at Boston University. My windows face east, giving me a great view of the skyline and Fenway Park. The sun rising in the morning can be tough, but it’s great to have so much natural light in the studio. I mainly use latex house paints, and I keep them on a movable cart so I can work around large canvasses that I lay out on the floor. I normally have my laptop open to artists’ pages or keep a book out on my desk for constant inspiration. I work in short bursts, so I always have paper or a sketchbook out so that I’m always busy when I’m not painting.

Maria Levinge, Wexford, Ireland

I think I must have been born with a paintbrush in my hand. From early childhood on, I seem to remember, it was the visual which intrigued and occupied me more than any other thing. Having spent a good part of my childhood at Waterford Castle in Ireland, there was enough to keep me busy by merely looking out the windows at the gardens, the pond, the plasterwork on the ceilings, the mantlepieces, and the architraves. The trees alone filled me with wonder. In fact, almost all my memories are informed by my earliest ones. They remain with me and often help me to determine what I intend to draw or paint next.

I am now living in a wonderful new house, and my husband built me a studio not far from the main building. It is totally based on what I need and proved to be a boon to my activities. It is a timber-frame house painted in colonial red with a roof window which, if I sit underneath and wait long enough, often suggests what I work on next. Another window overlooks the gently rolling hills of the Irish countryside, with light conditions prone to change in minutes, which are a delight for a painter who often paints landscapes, as I do. I listen to classical music while painting or drawing or am just sitting still in my own space, which gives me so much happiness and, because of where it is situated with fields and woods surrounding it, also much inspiration.

Carl Smith, Austin, Texas (site)

I built this 8′ x 12′ studio in 2008 in my backyard, about 30 feet behind my main home. It cost about $1,400 in materials, probably more after I installed an air conditioner and added insulation and put up drywall. Since the space is small, I can only work on 3–4 paintings at a time. I keep paints and brushes very organized and I am constantly throwing away things I am not using that month. Everything I use is water based, so paint dries quickly. If I used oils or had any turps, I am sure the whole thing would go up in flames. The wall easel on the left works well to save space. No lies, it is a tough space to work in — but I am really poor and I do my best with what I have.

Russell Prince, Houston, Texas (site)

My practice involves the arrangement of found elements in collage, assemblage, and installation, so for me it’s second nature to arrange (and rearrange) my studio as well. A weekly cleaning is meditation and a way to view accumulated materials with a fresh eye, otherwise they may get lost in the clutter. Ephemera and detritus are stored away in boxes or plastic bags and sorted by palette (red materials separated from blue materials from yellow, and so on). Once I’m working, the fragments fly and a mess will be made, but when I finish a large work or a series or desire a new direction, a clean slate is the best place to begin.

Nicki Rolls, London, UK (site)

Here is my workspace at the end of a long studio, which I share with nine other artists. It’s in the upstairs part of an old Victorian stables block (where the hay was once kept). It’s always warm and dry because there are two kilns in constant use in the studios downstairs. It feels like coming home when I get there.

I am currently painting idyllic landscapes with an early Disney aesthetic, disrupted by geometric pattern. I use a kitsch, Bambi aesthetic as an iconic representation of a time before the digital explosion, juxtaposed with repetitive geometric pattern, as an exploration of a world increasingly engulfed by digitization.

The birds and creatures on the walls of my studio are paper maquettes I have made to help decide where in the painting to place the cartoon characters, what color to use, and what shape or expression. Once I have decided, I paint them in. My space is getting filled with cartoon birds and animals.

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Philip A Hartigan

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)...