Articles

A View From the Easel

This week, artist studios in Paris, Oregon, California, Maryland, and South Carolina.

This the 152nd 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.

Allison Blumenthal, Paris, France

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My studio is in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. I am in this rent-controlled space for the past two years and I feel very lucky to have this lovely quiet and large space. In this picture you can see a bit of how I work, although this picture was taken on a clean day. I usually have a few things going on at the same time, here a few smaller format paintings as well as some plaster wall pieces. I mainly work on the floor, even when I am drawing, and hang works to look at them while they are in progress. The paintings leaning against the wall and one hanging are recently finished and are ‘digesting’, sitting while I spend time with them to make sure they are really done. There are two paintings in progress on the floor, plus a plaster wall piece that I just made as part of a group in progress. I have a large table with all of my painting supplies, oil, acrylic, and spray paint, etc. and my pile of plaster making stuff (buckets, frames, clay for moulding).

And, there is my beloved chair for sitting, reading, writing, looking.

April Armistead, Portland, Oregon

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At 435 square feet, this is by far the largest studio I’ve had yet with two good sized north facing windows. It’s the entire upstairs of my house with it’s own bathroom and a closet that used to be an office. This insular setup helps separate life from work. I even keep painting clothes in the bathroom so I can change without getting distracted. The closet is getting pretty full between artwork and shipping supplies, so I’m starting to line paintings around the room, but I prefer an empty wall. I have two easels, and a big Ikea desk, but I always work on the floor. Piles of paints, brushes, water cups and towels are always scattered around. My little ponies, rainbow tassel garlands, and some plants keep the place “on brand.” I have a lot of lights, but I rarely use them since I hate painting at night. I’m always blasting music in here which I’m sure the plants enjoy.

Mike McConnell, Phoenix, MD

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My painting studio is a converted bedroom in my house. My commute time in the morning is how long it takes to make coffee. I also have a studio in the basement where I make works on paper. The original section of my house is a circa 1750 log cabin that I’ve opened up and expanded. There’s a pond right outside my studio. I’m very nature driven. When it’s warm I open the doors and paint to a soundtrack of bluebirds and frogs.

Marina Dunbar, Charleston, SC

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My studio is a little building right off the highway in Charleston, SC. My favorite aspect of the space is that it is it’s own building so it’s always private and quiet. It has two large windows and a glass door which flood the room with light. I like the variety of textures in the space, the brick wall, the wood siding; it feels warm and inviting while also preserving a professional feel.

I paint on the floor and it gets messy so I use two layers of floor protection to cover the space. I like having a lot of open space in the center of the room because my relationship with painting is very physical. I move around the work, positioning myself to direct paint flow from specific angles. The process lends itself to the build up of layers, capturing traces of time and movement. The practice is both seductive and uncertain. Fluid media is sensitive to its environment; a deep breath, a shift in focus, a sound in the distance all impact the process causing the paint to sway from the predetermined path. I approach each painting with a sense of restraint and an embrace of spontaneity.

Monica Coyne, Ettersburg, CA

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My studio is tucked beneath a knoll of trees in Ettersburg California. I love watching people when they first come to my shop. There is always that slight hesitation before entering. The faint acrid smell of coal, oil and abrasives neutralizes the sweet smell of the forest. Everything in the shop is either too cold or too hot and nothing is soft. But there is incredible beauty there too. Early in the morning the air is crisp. First light reaches through the trees. It touches the cracked cement floor and turns the shop into sparkling pixels of metal dust. The smoke of a freshly lit fire sends up thick ringlets of smoke. They curl up into ghosts and dragons who float lazily and then get sucked up the flue. My shop is off the grid. Some of the things that you can see here are; two fly presses with their 12lb balls, two anvils, two forges and a pneumatic power hammer. I work here, forging art, with the doors wide open almost every day, year round. I will lower the doors halfway during a rain or snow storm.

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