Articles

A View from the Easel

CHICAGO — The fourteenth installment of a series (Part 12345678910111213, 14) in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. Want to take part? You can peruse the submission guidelines here.

Marianne Slevin, Doolin, Ireland (site)

There is nearly always music in my studio. Two unstretched canvases of dresses and roses hang from driftwood and another one out of view, though these are pieces from a different body of work. The stone floor is covered in driftwood that I collected from the beach. I have been going to our local beach a lot lately, I find it really inspiring, and always come back with more things I find as well as ideas.

On the driftwood I have written in cyan ink my version of Haiku poems, which are usually even more minimal than the three lined ancient Japanese poems. I am quite a chaotic person, as you can see by my studio, but the work I am making at the moment is economic and sparse. I get excited about using a limited amount of materials at a time, working with things that are fragile and almost not there at all!

A series of very delicate rice paper scrolls, with burns from the cinders from a driftwood fire lie on top of my “very organized” giant tupperware boxes of materials and things I will probably need one day. On top of them more rice paper scrolls with ink drawings of shells imitating waves on them. The old shower curtain on the floor was laid out with some shells on it, and I used it as if it were a real wave to disperse them . In view there are drawings on Japanese paper with two colours of ink these are kind of splatter maps.

All of my artwork floats somewhere between accident and intention. If I am not conjuring up interventions I am imitating nature in my studio, using materials and techniques that allow accidents and unexpected surprises to happen. I try to get out of my own way and learn things I could never have imagined.

Ryan Hoyda, Burns Harbor, Indiana (site)

The space is a basement. It’s dry with fluorescent lighting, and covered with tools that adorn pegboards. It’s kind of like a hardware store. On the shelves, I primarily reserve the bottom shelf for acrylics, the middle for oils. I have a variety of premixed colors left over from various pieces. They have sat for a while, but I can’t bring myself to discard them. Brushes tend to be strewn between both, not too haphazardly. I tend to prefer soft brushes. The top shelf typically contains whatever I happened to use most recent, beside the energy drink (Monster Rehab, a friend recommended it after a nasty hangover.)

I use multiple pallets, in constant rotation as they become too saturated with paint. I also like the colors that form, and the way they harden like the skin on top of pudding. I use multiple pieces of wood, or rulers, as straight edges. Yes I cheat. Some of these are made from brick molding, which I use to build my frames. Brick molding has a lip, and its less expensive than stretcher bars, though you need to have the tools.

Rollin Leonard, Portland, Maine (site)

My studio is a squash court on the third floor of a creaky old house. The walls are layered with ovoid marks from thousands of rubber balls and several decades of hasty repainting. I live in a small apartment just off the studio with my girlfriend, a textile designer, who also shares this work space.

The way I work varies but most often involves photography. Seen in this picture are large aluminum frames for screen printing, boxes of tiny wooden blocks I’m sanding for a sculpture, a paper folder that I use to make notebooks, six tables and a dress form that often helps me focus the camera for self portraits.

I rearrange my work space often to make room for sets or large paintings. I find reshuffling my working environment also helps reset my thinking. The great stack on the left (mostly out of view) contains an assortment of tools and materials. Boxes are labeled with masking tape: rope and string, canvas and green screens, lighting, glue, tools, blades, hardware and so on. Usually there are more plants, but they had to be removed for their own safety while I tore the place apart. As a kid my brother and I had a small room designated as the “play room” and with this space I maintain that tradition.

Svava Thordis Juliusson, Hamilton, Ontario (site)

This is my new studio. It’s downtown, on the corner of Canon and James Street North, in the city formerly known as Steel Town. It has the best light, the nicest floors and friendliest spirits.

My work starts on the floor then moves up the walls, and gradually makes its way to the ceiling. The sun moves through the space in much the same way.

Judith Rushin, Tallahassee, Florida (site)

My studio is a converted garage at my house where I live with my husband and two teenage kids. Family life and studio practice are integrated. I like it this way because I no longer see a big difference between the two.

Right now the studio is very messy, meaning I’m in it a lot. My practice is sporadic — slower during teaching months and intense in the summer. On the other side of the windows is a lovely, shady garden. I go there to think, take a break, visit or write.

The column you see on the right side of the image is a stack of canvases. I wanted to literally building with paint, so the canvases became bricks and house paint became the mortar. This piece, like a lot of my work, is modular, so it might be exhibited as a wall in one place and a column in another. Behind the column is a partial view of another work — two salvaged sections of old aluminum siding. I stripped one section bare and had the other powder coated in metallic gold. There was something about the idea of classy garbage in that piece, as well as being naked and clothed.

On the table I’m making paint skins for that flat screen TV mount you see just to the left of the column. And then under the table and beside it are salvaged materials I’ll use at some point. What is not visible in the photo is a wall of storage, some power tools, and, most importantly, a sofa where I spend a lot of my time.

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