A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in California, Canada, Michigan, New York, and New Zealand.

The 132nd 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.

Betzi Stein, Los Angeles, CA

I am a Los Angeles-based figurative painter. Three years ago, I converted my only bedroom to an art studio, office, and meditation space. Every inch is designed to accommodate the activities and needs of my creative life. Out of view are office equipment, additional storage, and art books. Ceiling daylight-balanced florescent fixtures supplement the only window, which on sunny days brings in bright light and provides a view of my balcony garden.

Mobile easel and chairs enable me to reconfigure the space when needed, to set up larger horizontal projects on portable tables. My iPad rests on a movable device, allowing me to zoom in for detailed viewing of my working images. The easel faces the door to the studio so I can step back into the hallway to see my work in progress.

Previously, I had only a few feet of work space in a corner of the bedroom, severely limiting my artistic output. I’m now able to make larger paintings, explore more varied techniques and materials, and build inventory for shows. Since remodeling, I sleep on a Murphy Bed in the living room. Having lived here for 30 years, I only wish I’d done this sooner!

Wojciech Gilewicz, New York, NY

My studio is in an office building in Downtown Manhattan, where I have been part of LMCC Workspace program for the past three years, first as a resident and now as an on-site assistant.

What you see in the photo are a couple of oil on canvas pieces I am currently working on from my New Paintings series started back in 2006 and composed of two dozen works right now. They represent in a realistic manner, posters from the NYC subway, which not only serve advertising and information purposes, but also provoke various responses from graffiti or sticker artists who cover them with all kinds of inscriptions, tags, visual codes, and cartoons. Many posters also often fall victim to vandals. At many subway stations, these torn, ruined posters are painted over by the subway staff with consecutive layers of oil paint. All this creates an extremely diverse, complex, fascinating, and multi-referencing visual form, always in 46 x 60 inch format. These are precisely the dimensions of my oil paintings in which, layer upon layer, I am recreating the changes happening over time. It is quite a time-consuming process involving various painting techniques with their inherent specificities; hence I usually work on each painting for a couple of years. Slots for posters started recently being replaced on NYC subways by plasma screens, which will soon add quite a new dimension to the city visual culture.

Gary Eleinko, Detroit, MI

My studio, which I’ve occupied since 1988, is located four blocks north of my house in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood. The building, formerly housing a brush manufacturer, has various artists in different mediums as tenants.

My works consists of painted wood constructions and works on paper, watercolor, drawing, or collage. Works vary, using a combination of abstract, botannical, scientific, and cultural elements. This composite photo shows the main painting area on the right with northern light. To the right of the bar my father built in the 1950s is a table set up for encaustic work. In the foreground are tables for works on paper and supplies. To the left of the photo is the wood working area, where I assemble my constructions, and out of the photo a wall of storage bins for completed and framed works. The area behind the painting wall is for photographing works and a sitting/viewing area.

Leya Evelyn, Nova Scotia, Canada

Even though I have a clear view of the lake and surrounding trees from my painting studio, my work continues to be abstract. I moved to Nova Scotia from New York in 1984. The spaciousness of the landscape and people contribute to my creativity. Anything is possible. By contrast, my studio tends to be very crowded with paintings as I work intensively, preferring to paint rather than clean up. The paintings pile up with not enough storage space.

The focus of my artwork is color: how it takes form, creates space, provokes emotion and opens perception. I begin with photo-silk-screened photographs of people (family, friends, and not-friends) currently in my life. Inspired by the images and emotions they fuel, I write and draw over them, then work into them with color. The writing becomes buried beneath the paint. These elements do not reside in the final piece, other than as an undertow to the creative process.

This painting process is one of creating an unseen, fertile ground that infuses the energy of the final artwork. The result is to capture energy and feeling in the paintings in a visceral way, transforming what is personal and transient into an enduring image.

Karen Dennis, Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand

This is my painting space, which is part of a larger garage space housing bookshelves, a recycled ceramic business — which is my day job — and general household storage. The building is on a five-acre rural lifestyle block two hours North of Auckland city on the Kaipara harbour.  My partner and I moved here six years ago after living in the city for some years, and my painting is mostly inspired by the landforms and land around me.

I experiment a lot, building up my own visual language and color themes, looking at the incredible seasonal light changes throughout the year. I like to recycle my materials, so I use cardboard, canvas, wood shingles, paper, maps, and mostly pen, acrylic paint, pencil, and crayon or pastel.


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