Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in California, New York, and the United Kingdom.

The 130th 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.

Anne Smith, East Sussex, UK

My studio is adjacent to the living area, with an easy flow back and forth. It’s a new space, very clean and white. I need lots of walls because I like to work on several pieces at once. You can see scattered post-its, there to keep track of choices, ideas, and prompts. I stuff them into the gorgeous deGournay shopping bag (hanging in the corner) when I am done. Those drawers are full of paper, finished art, and work that I need to not look at for a while.

My work blends digital printmaking with traditional techniques used in Indian/Persian miniature painting. Out of view is the scanner, Mac, and printer, which are set up opposite a granite slab where I burnish gold leaf and grind earth pigments. Off to the side: inks, paints, and fine squirrel hair brushes from India.

Sarah Collins, Los Angeles, CA

Easy accessibility is something very important to me in my workspace. I hang drawings that I intend to revisit, and I keep them visible, rather than throwing the pages into sketchbooks. The same goes for canvas and panel paintings. As I continue to observe my progress across many works, I am able to keep a visual diary of changes in my style, interests, and color palettes.

I tend to jump around with projects and mediums, so I organize my tools for this need, with my most used items in rolling carts. I enjoy using a lot of color, so a combination of natural and artificial lighting helps me see what I am working with. Nature inspires me, so having a space near a window is ideal and makes everything feel less confined. The cozy corner that I’ve created has allowed me to work on many things at once without feeling overwhelmed.

Anne Finkelstein, New York, NY

My studio is in a mixed-use small office building. There are graphic designers, sculptors, a yoga studio, a new age church, and a refrigeration repair school — all hidden behind closed doors. I share the space with my husband, James Acevedo, who is also an artist. It’s half a block from our apartment, so we are very lucky!

What you see in the photo are several works on paper and paintings on board and canvas. I work from photographs of architecture that I take in New York City. The vertical unfinished work in the center is based on a photo-montage of several images which I combine in Photoshop before I paint.

Chris Bird, Santa Rosa, CA

I was trained as a graphic artist and have evolved to a career in website development, so it’s good to have a place where I can make a mess and observe how different artistic mediums function (very different from computer code). I bought a doublewide in 2012, with the intention of using the second bedroom as a painting studio and finally got around to completing it last summer. The northern light is one of the nice features of the room, along with a separate bathroom that I have retrofitted with a big stainless steel sink for cleanup.

I’ve developed a landscape style that involves a very wet surface that is smeared around with acrylic pigments. I usually work on four to five paintings at a time, and after they dry I add details with stencils and spray paint. The space is also used for small framing and repair jobs around the house, since I keep all my tools and paints in this room. In addition, I create instruments and decorative objects out of gourds, so this room serves many purposes. The main table is shown cleared off since I’m ending one project and about to start another. I can still accommodate guests when they visit, and it’s great because they don’t have to worry about making a mess of the spare bedroom or bathroom sink.

Christy Gunnels, Imperial Beach, CA

Because my husband and I travel extensively, I needed to figure out a way to continue working when away from my permanent studio. This is not easy for an artist who works in oils. Steve Jobs helped a lot when he presented the iPad, which allowed me to carry the many photographs I take to work from. I pare my tools down to oils and brushes that fit in a portable easel and box up as many as 15 to 20 prepared boards.

The view from my easel here is the space I carved out of the Imperial Beach, CA condo we are in. I’ve draped plastic over the stools I’m using to prop up my easel and palette. I purchased a cheap rug to protect the floor. The windows face west and can be too bright toward late afternoon. But finding good light in the places we stay is the primary goal, and this spot suits that well. The main challenge here is space to stand back and observe works in progress and to work on several pieces simultaneously.

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