Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

The 114th 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.

Chandle Lee, New York, NY (site)

After almost a year on the waiting list, I was offered this incredibly affordable studio by Chashama in one of the most iconic buildings in New York City — Brooklyn Army Terminal. About 120 artists work here in this collective. Brooklyn Army Terminal was built in 1919; it was the largest military supply base in the United States through World War II. My studio is small (15 x 15 feet), but it is adequate and much better than painting in my living room before I moved here. A couple months after I moved in, the collective hosted an open studios event. This photo was taken right before the opening.

I start my painting day by working on a 12 x 12 inch portrait in oil for a couple hours. It is like a warm-up to start the day. The 12 x 12 is an ongoing project that is meant to be exploratory and experimental. Some portraits are sketchy and take only an hour or two to finish. Others are more refined and span a few days to finish. I always limit myself to spending a couple hours on this project. Hopefully someday when I have enough portraits, I will stage an exhibition where the 12 x 12 inch portraits will tile the entire gallery walls, ceiling, and floor.

John Michael Byrd, Hoboken, NJ (site)

This is my cozy studio in Hoboken, New Jersey. It is on the small side, at about 16 x 16 feet. My process of working is very wet, and I need a lot of horizontal space. My big white table is a must when I am working on the transparent mylar that I typically use for the surfaces of my paintings.

Organization is important in this tiny studio, and I keep rolled-up paintings under the table, along with boxes of collage materials and photo boxes. Binders of finished work live in several teal cabinets that sit near my table. I have grounded the floor with a rug where my dog Mabel sleeps. Also, most of my acrylic and watercolor paints are color coordinated and separated for easy access in clear bins.

There is no overhead light, so I have placed globe lights and spot lights around the room to balance out the dark corners. I am very lucky to have two large windows with natural light that open onto a courtyard. I have two vintage typewriters and a collection of books, stones, tarot cards, and objects that keep me company. I read between working and sometimes write on the typewriters.

Charles Steiner, Ft. Smith, Arkansas (site)

My 12 x 15 foot  studio is in the rear part of the attic of our c. 1910 stucco  bungalow, located on an historic street in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  The sloped ceiling, along with steep stairway access, makes a tight fit for moving my large paintings within the space or up and down to storage in the unattached garage.  The best part of the attic studio is the window furnishing light from the west. I paint against a makeshift plywood wall directly in line with the light stream of the window. Some might wonder why I paint in such cramped quarters; the answer is that I like to paint where I live and not commute. This way, I can visit my ongoing work in the studio several times a day, whether to do actual painting or to mull over its status.

Art supplies and files are against the window wall, and I use the cart to hold my palette and open paint jars while I work. There is no room for art storage beyond a few portfolios for works on paper leaning against the walls. So I have a 12-foot rack in the garage, along with a workbench for building stretchers and other related carpentry chores.

Laura Chasman, Roslindale, MA (site)

For over 20 years I have worked in a renovated attic in my home. This space is
composed of two rooms with slanted ceilings along the perimeter. I paint in an area that is only 5 x 6 feet (pictured here). I use the rest of the space to set aside work in progress, store my books and art supplies, and store framed and unframed artwork, as well a table with assorted photographs, papers, and journals.

When I step inside this space I am reminded of the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is my Narnia, a world inhabited by the images of people and scenes that inspire my paintings. The wall where I do most of my work is covered in paint, delineating the countless edges of paper and board on which I have worked all these years. Here is where I lose myself in the process of painting.

Mark M. Garrett, San Francisco, CA (site)

After a number of studio relocations and displacements over the last few years, I was lucky to land in a collective of 100 artists (1890 Bryant Street Studios) in San Francisco’s Mission district. I’m an early riser by nature and usually find my creative inspiration in the early weekday mornings until about 2 pm. I tend to work both on the walls and the floor of this studio and am fortunate to have an abundance of both.

I also keep shelves of found objects & ephemera for future (Cornellian) inspiration and potential assemblages. Whether I’m painting, drawing with charcoal, pastel, ink, and watercolor, or cutting up maps for a collage, my artworks fall squarely into the ‘works on paper’ category. The constant assault on affordable artist studios and housing here in SF is palpable, so I feel particularly blessed with this space and this community of artists.

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