Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in Belgium, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Quebec.

The 133rd 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.

Doug Cannell, Highland Park, Michigan

I make abstract sculpture using mostly steel, wood, and paint. My studio is inside a former stamping plant in Highland Park, Michigan, a small city completely surrounded by Detroit. The entire factory complex, known as 333 Midland, has been converted into artist studios and a gallery. The 800-square-foot room where I work accommodates the industrial processes I use to make my work and has a long wall of windows providing great light. One end of the studio is designated for welding, grinding, and cutting, and can be sectioned off with large rolling welding screens.

Outside my studio are some resources all tenants can share, like a kitchen, wood shop, a large air compressor, art and material storage, lounging areas, and material handling equipment like a scissor lift, chain hoists, and carts. The whole arrangement is conducive to interaction between the artists when we want it, or privacy when we need that. There is a communal vibe to the place where everyone is willing to help one another out.

Bart Kok, Antwerp, Belgium

My studio is situated on the top floor of Extracity Kunsthal in Antwerp. It’s a big open space that I share with seven other artists. I started working there three months ago after getting my Masters degree in art school. The space is pretty big, around 25 square meters for each artist. The rent is really cheap, partly because I’ve heard that the winters are freezing, since there is no heating. When it rains, and in Belgium it rains a lot, there is some leakage coming from the windows in the sealing. The small buckets on the ground are there to catch the falling drops of rain.

I got a part time job directly after graduating because I didn’t want to rely on just selling my works for paying my bills. I find that having a steady income reduces the level of stress when I’m working in the studio. I visit my studio about three times a week. I like to spent long days in the studio, about 12 to 14 hours a day, so usually I try to arrive at around nine in the morning. The first hours I mostly spend at my desk reading or surfing the Internet. I like to keep a steady stack of different sized empty canvasses around because I never know what size I want to start working on. During the day I paint. I work on the
easel, on the ground, and on the wall. I switch around a lot because of the different techniques I use. I’m a messy painter; my process involves applying and removing lots of paint. I really enjoy the materialistic and dirty aspect of painting with oils. As you can see in the picture, I’m not the tidiest person. The studio is pretty messy, but I like it that way.

Chance Murray, Cedar Grove, North Carolina

This is the “Black wall,” which is the first wall that you see when walking into the studio, and it serves  as a large and primary easel, with a new set up currently under construction involving old car jacks. In the image you see a piece called “Big louise,” which is currently in progress, and three small cold gravy pieces. Also in the image is a rolling cart, which is a pallet and work surface; part of a kitchen cabinet set salvaged from a job; a brush bin that was once a grain scoop; tool racks made from tobacco sticks; a stack of pie plates that I use for pallets; mannequin arms that a buddy gave me; some work scraps  and a grinder/polisher made from old plumbing parts; angle iron; a wheel rim; and the electric motor from a well pump.

Lise-Hélène Larin, Montreal, Quebec

I’ve accumulated a lot of work in my studio since 1980. It has become almost a cabinet of curiosities! I’ve created everything you see in this picture. Being surrounded by my work makes me feel productiveI am a sculptor at heart, but I’ve been drawing a lot throughout my career as an artist. The long table I’ve constructed myself is the only spot I have now to continue my work. My computer is in a little corner to isolate me from the physical work that keeps nagging at me. I still do sculpture but on a smaller scale.

Dori Miller, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is my studio at PAFA during my first year as an MFA. I have three paintings in progress, plus some photos related to sketches, plus previous works on the walls. My work table and supplies can be seen along with a large stretcher I just built, ripe for stretching.

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