Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in Illinois, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon, Virginia.

The 123rd 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.

Megan Williamson, Chicago, IL

My studio is a converted two-car garage. Friends and family helped put up the insulation and drywall, so it is warm enough for all but the most bone-chilling winter days. With the addition of a window air-conditioner I’m good to work in any season. I’ve scavenged old area rugs to cover the cement floor to give a bit of padding and to help with the cold.

I have two separate drawing spaces and an easel for oil painting. Packed away waiting for spring is my French easel. In the back of the photo are painting racks and some extra-large flat files that came out of an architectural firm’s office. To the far right you can see a bit of an old work bench which also serves as a shipping area (read: bubble wrap and cardboard boxes). On the walls I have my paintings, other artists’ work, quotes, and a collection of frames for which I eventually find drawings. I have an old rocking chair to sit back on and look at whatever is on the easel, and in the middle of all of this is my dog, who has claimed the small couch for his own. When I give a talk about my work I often begin by telling the audience to keep in mind that when I am painting, it is just me and my dog alone in a room — and he thinks all my ideas are good ones.

Chazalon Respress, Atlanta, GA

My studio is every inch of my home. I often work on several pieces at a time in different rooms with the laptop playing music or a lively artist documentary. This photo shows where I ​keep most of my art supplies and growing collection of images from art exhibits and shows I’ve attended. Taped to the wall and on the desk are pieces that I am currently working on, which include a charcoal drawing and a mixed media painting. Also pictured are my works on paper (rolled and secured with a rubber band) and my works on canvas stacked against the wall.

Paul X. Rutz, Portland, OR

Look at the tape on the floor. Here, three colors of masking tape — blue, green, and white — reflect the work on three big unfinished canvases. My time as a ballet dancer has left me with a fascination for picturing moving bodies in novel ways. So I choreograph my models, spiking the floor, walls, and even the ceiling with tape to show them what points to hit while they move from one position to another, and back, and again and again. I work with live models whenever I can, and I carefully control lighting during the months-long slope of time it takes to finish these paintings. So, tape. Over 30 or 40 sessions, the models and I supplement the tape, repair it, adjust it, and when the paintings are finished, we get to pull it off in a satisfying, informal ritual of cleansing.

Sally Bomer, Peterborough, NH

My studio is big enough to have space to move in — my life as a dancer informs my drawings in many ways. I have enough wall and floor space to make large drawings in both planes. I’m letting a roll of paper uncurl on the floor between sheets of craft paper. The studio is on the ground floor of a building that once housed the American Guernsey Cattle Club, and the windows look out onto a quintessential New England town, but my work has nothing to do with the view or the surrounding bucolic countryside. I have a low chair for reading and a little refrigerator for beer and wine when guests stop by.

Jennifer D. Printz, Roanoke, VA

My studio is in a church. The building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and the congregation rents the upper classroom spaces out to a few area artists. Although I love the huge windows and the delicious morning light the studio receives, I am equally in love with the philosophy of the Metropolitan Community Church that has advocated for civil and human rights for all since 1968. As soon as I open the front door to the building, I see a sign that states everyone is welcome and safe in this space. This atmosphere was gently infiltrated into my working practice and my desire to make work that is ultimately hopeful and uplifting.

The bright, open, and well-lit space is perfect for my two-dimensional practice. I designed and built the furniture to fit my needs. The work tables have storage so pencils, tape, and most of the tools I need are right there as I work. The wall easels complement the stand-alone easels so that multiple pieces can be worked on and displayed at the same time.

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