Articles

A View from the Easel

This week, artist studios in California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

The 118th 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.

Leslie Fry, Winooski, VT

This photograph was taken around election time in November 2016. Hourly NPR news reports seemed to align with the chaos and unpredictability of what I was doing in the studio, which was working with concrete. For a sculptor who likes using her hands to model organic forms and doesn’t have the budget for bronze casting, concrete is the best choice for making sizable outdoor sculptures. I don’t love the dust and backaches — or the weight — but I do love what concrete can do.

Three techniques are happening in the photo. On the far right, soon to be released, is a turquoise rubber mold filled with concrete and impaled over a twisting phallic shape cast into fabric. In the middle is a green cloth shape full of concrete to form a three-layered stack for “Swell,” which is the sculpture being modeled with concrete on the table edge, behind the ropes.

I was also working on a five-foot high sculpture outside in the cold — too heavy to move — and like every other project, I thought it would have been finished a couple of months earlier. No coincidence that the tops of these sculptures evolved into drooping, melting, phallic forms during the announcements from the new patriarchal regime. To see the final sculptures from this studio scene, go to my website, select Sculpture, then select Concrete.

Matthew Sepielli, Philadelphia, PA

My studio is on the top floor of our house in a historic section of Philadelphia called Germantown. (Sun Ra lived and worked in Germantown, Louisa May Alcott was born here, and so on.) The studio itself looks out over the roof tops of houses across the street and the trees along Lincoln Drive. The studio is around 250 square feet with nine-foot ceilings.

I keep the space open with one wall for recently finished paintings, and then the other two long walls are working walls. This picture shows the current wall that is housing lots of small finished (or mostly finished) paintings and the simple folding table I use for brushes, solvents, and such. The house itself is 125 years old and in the process of being renovated, so another unfinished room on the same floor is used for the storage of larger paintings (I can work comfortably on a seven-foot painting in the studio).

Scott Waterman, Los Angeles, CA

My daily practice is to think like an artist but not necessarily to create anything. Cy Twombly famously didn’t paint every day and readily confessed that fact. There’s too much stuff and too much to look at, anyway. As soon as I discovered Duchamp, I knew picture-making was over, and yet I continued to do so for a number of years. Still I’ve always been more drawn to charts, diagrams, maps, and the like rather than what we might think of as traditional pictures/paintings.

More recently I’ve felt quite satisfied making concentric circles in grays. They are ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper, as seen here in my studio views. I think of them as meditative guides. There’s some colorful and rather unsavory street culture where my studio is located, so there’s quite a contrast between that and my studio interior — neutral and calm.

Mel Watkin, Cobden, IL

This is my drafting table and small tree drawings on graph paper. Since I live in a rural area, I have to travel a lot. (We are six hours south of Chicago and almost three hours from St. Louis.)  I often have to bring a laptop and art supplies with me, and my backpack has gotten impossibly heavy. I decided to stop hauling my sketchbook around. Instead, I just fold up a large sheet of graph paper (35 x 48 inches) and just keep folding it over and over until it is filled. An added benefit to this approach is that I can hang the finished sheet on my studio wall for reference when I am done.

Susan Schwalb, Long Island City, NY

This is my small but wonderful studio in Long Island City at Reis Studios. I am known for my detailed metalpoint and silverpoint paintings and drawings. I make all of them at my drafting table. I also have a rather messy table (just outside of the picture frame) where I paint the surfaces for drawing.

I took this shot from a lying down position on the cot that I use when needing to rest.  I like having flowers or a flowering plant in the room. The windows let in lots of light but a limited view of the sky and the top of a tree in front of the building. This makes me focus on my work and not on the outside world. When I get to the studio, I spend a while decompressing from the subway and daily life to my quiet private work space. It is generally a quiet building, and I play my radio all day. This shot shows many paintings and drawings in progress.

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