Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in Alaska, California, New York, and Ohio.

The 129th 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.

Karen Snouffer, Gambier, OH

This wide angle shot of my second-floor, 1,200-square-foot studio is a bit distorted but reveals the depth well. It is in a renovated hay barn, steps from my house in Gambier, Ohio, next to a cornfield and deep forests. Although exterior views are beautiful, having fewer windows offers more wall space and less daylight for creating mock installations.

My installation process is much like theater — I rehearse with materials, space, and lighting. The ceiling grid allows me to add lights and/or hanging objects. I practice body movement in the space if I am planning on performing within an installation. Moveable work tables give flexibility to increase space for all of this. This image shows workstations for creating mixed media objects. (I am continually collecting new materials!) My shop is on the first floor with band, miter, and scroll saws, as well as storage space. Behind the camera here, in another third of the space, are flat files, shelves, and a sink. I never take this generous space for granted, but there is a catch: the more space I have, the more I fill it — supplies can multiply exponentially for a mixed media artist.

Alice Marie Perreault, Los Angeles, CA

My studio is my laboratory of mixed media and medical supplies. The Lab is an extension built onto the back of my house with its own entrance. The space connects to the house through a small mudroom that opens into a hall not far from my kids’ bedrooms so I can work into the night while they sleep; ideal for a single parent.

During the day, I spill outside under a covered area where I can take advantage of the California weather to help things set up more quickly. An outdoor workshop allows me to use power tools without concern for sawdust getting into paint or wet casts. I accumulate things that require sorting and storing. A “staging” table keeps possibilities in the forefront while acting as markers for what hides in a shed nearby. Because I like to work on the floor, carpet remnants over the concrete prevent things from getting scratched and make it more comfortable for my knees. A flat file with a cutting-board tabletop, a small printing press, and an easel are around the corner. Shifting things to meet the needs of my current projects is necessary, especially since I work on several things at the same time.

Michelle Weinberg, New York, NY

My studio is in a historic building originally built by Bell Laboratories and now dedicated to artists. The activity of the Hudson River is right outside my windows. This view of my studio reveals many elements I’ve been involved with lately, all works on paper that resolve the handmade with the mechanical and the digital.

Hard-edged gouache paintings emphasize vibrant color, eccentric patterns, architecture, and geometry. I also invent for myself specialized “engines” for drawing, such as hand-marbleizing paper, trace and transfer methods, and graphite drawings in which I try out “special effects.” The paper maché objects and assemblages I call playsets and giftsets generate tabletop architectures that engage my thoughts around rituals of consumption — a way to restore meaning to the banal disposable products we interact with on a daily basis. Tacked up on the wall are also digital prints made by moving a combination of all these pictures and objects across a scanner bed, compressing their solid forms into images that demonstrate the passage of time. When I describe my work overall as creating vivid backdrops for human activity, I’m pretty sure that the studio is the original backdrop I’m referring to!

Mary Matthews, Fairbanks, AK

My studio is a dry cabin with a loft located uphill from my home. Looking through the trees, the roof of my house is visible. The studio is where I feel most free. I’ve lined up Statues of Liberty on the windowsill. Both Alaska and the remote location of the studio provide me with a sense of removal and apartness from the rest of the world.

My work changes every year, depending on whatever the weather brings to the land. In the past, I’ve used mud, wild roses, berries, bark, and mushrooms in my pieces. I like being outside, opening a door, and walking into the woods. My life is a beautiful construction, and I try to make beautiful and powerful art. This winter I am making huge paintings on discarded drapes of various textures and sizes and on giant pieces of cardboard. Mostly they look similar to what you see out this window. I paint them on the floor in giant gestures sitting on top of them, walking around them, and pretending I am outside. If it is at least a positive 10 degrees, I dress properly and drag my pieces of cardboard up into the birch forest with a big can of white paint and splash around.

Raphaele Cohen-Bacry, Los Angeles, CA

It was a rainy day, and I liked the warm atmosphere in the studio. From left to right: you can see the tables under the window, my favorite spot and the area where I do a lot of my small works. On the wall are a few of my recent paintings that I put there for me to study. You cannot find any of my big brushes, as I have been developing a new technique for two years that does not involve brushes at all. The easel, I had in Paris, and that followed me to the French Alps and then to Los Angeles. I rarely use it anymore, but it has personality. Some of my bark sculptures are on the shelves.

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