Articles

A View from the Easel

CHICAGO — The 92nd 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.

Dorothy Fitzgerald, Lyndonville, New York (site)

fitzgerald

The past few years my studio was in a warehouse building, in the city. Although it seemed perfect, I discovered I was getting too influenced by the complexities of city life. So I built a yurt in a corn field, that is 200 feet from Lake Ontario. Being an expressionist oil painter, I needed more isolation and to be closer to natural beauty, in order to listen to my emotions with purity. I tend to put everything I am thinking and feeling into a painting, and then subtract out the distractions. Yet, what if I could paint being influenced by peaceful environment? I’ll let you know how it goes!

Gerry Bergstein, Boston, Massachussetts (site)

bergstein

I am a painter who, in recent years, has integrated photo, installation, and collage into my practice. My studio is an integral part of this and is the source of my two dimensional work and is based on the ever changing scenarios in my room.

I draw on the walls, scatter fragments of  imagery and poured paint in the floor and then photograph the results. The photos are used as the basis for hybrid 2d art works. The installation is ever evolving,  going through cycles of construction, destruction, and regeneration. It becomes a microcosm for my investigations of the condition of art, and the condition of art as microcosm of the human condition with all its hilarity, tragedy, idealism corruption fragility, pathos, and beauty.

My palette for the last 40 years has been the hospital gurney pictured in the photo.This adds another metaphor to my world-scape. All this might sound portentous and self important, but for better or worse it’s who I am.

I hope that exploring “big questions” in my tiny studio with poured paint and torn shards of art reproductions and other images adds some humility to my quest.

Yvette Kaiser Smith, Chicago, Illinois (site)

YvetteKaiserSmith_Studio

I live and work on the same property. The front building, shaped like a shoe box, was previously a single family home. What used to be the living room, a 16 x 20 foot space, is now my main work area.

We live in a coach-house apartment behind the studio building. It is at the home’s dining table that I work on preliminary drawings and plans for the sculpture and on the sofa, protected by an old sheet, that I transform the continuous-fiberglass gun-roving into crocheted cloth.

Everything else gets done in the 16 x 20 foot space. It has become a dedicated fiberglass/resin room. The peripheral clutter that hugs the walls stays as is, while the center of the work space breaks down and changes for each process step. The crocheted cloth is formed and hardened with application of hard-finish polyester resin. The desk with plastic cups, acetone filled jars, gloves, and other necessities, and the plastic covered wooden table to its right, are for resin mixing and application.

I use gravity to lay-up the crocheted cloth rather than a mold in order to retain and emphasize the 3D texture crocheted in, meaning I drape or hang. The wood stack, left side of image, is just a part of the wood support arsenal for building draping jigs. The two plastic shelf towers, the clothing racks, and folding table foreground right, are temporary tools for this part of this project.

Molly McNeece, Farmington Hills, Michigan (site)

McNeece

My favorite place to work as an artist is at my studio table. I took over my “formal living room” four years ago so I could look out into my neglected backyard and bird feeder while I paint. I also work as an Alternative High School Art Instructor and I try to be the best mom to two kids and a wife to a grouchy executive, so the time I most love to work is on Saturday mornings with a hot cup of coffee, and a quiet house.

My studio is full of the little treasures we artists need to be happy. I have prints I collect for inspiration (that change every once in a while so my husband won’t notice I’ve bought more art), my books, paints, and art materials for projects I will someday get to.

Every evening I put time into my studio after I tuck my kids into bed. I believe you have to work every day as an artist. No matter how tired you are, even if there are dishes in the sink, if you have had a little too much red wine, or if you don’t feel like it, put a mark down. Work. Be serious and silly. Dream of creating beautiful things.

Corrie Slawson, Cleveland, Ohio (site)

SlawsonStudio2

This 24 foot long, 12 foot wide triangular box sits on top of my house (it’s the 3rd floor). I can see the whole neighborhood out the large picture window; it feels like a treehouse up here.

To get upstairs, I walk up really steep, ladder-like stairs through a small “hobbit” hole. Having a home studio has been essential to my practice, I can work often and, since I have a family, I can work late if need be.

I primarily work on paper, really big rolls of paper that I can get up the stairs. You can see about 18–20 silk screens ready to go but I don’t have water up here so after each pass, I run down to the basement and wash out the screens (great exercise, really!). I also, paint, draw and use paper lithography, so I have set up several glass palettes and an extra large center table. As I work, I layer the various media and hang work atop other work to get back and really look. I began working exclusively on paper when we moved here because of what I can get up and down the stairs, but I feel like that’s when my work got good, so the space was essential to that process.

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