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A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

This week, artists reflect on quarantining from their studios in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, and the UK.

This is the 161st installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. In light of COVID-19, we’ve asked participants to reflect on how the pandemic has changed their studio space and/or if they are focusing on particular projects while quarantining. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Michelle Storrm, Liverpool, UK

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We moved in last October and the carpet’s new, so I put a tarpaulin and some cardboard down because I’m a very messy painter. We had some spare cabinets so they’re full of canvases, spray paint, and hoarded bubble wrap. I found the fancy chair in a skip. The table was our dining room table, but we never used it so I stuck a vice and a cutting mat on it. It’s the cat’s favorite place to sleep. I work full-time in an art shop so I kind of collect art supplies and like to have them displayed, but then the acrylics I use all the time are just in a big jumble in a basket by the easel. There’s a picture rail so I can change what’s hanging, and I keep lots of mementos and plants in here too. Since being furloughed six weeks ago, I bring in my coffee on a morning and put on music and paint a canvas, or plan some other project, and it gives me a purpose for the day. It felt self-indulgent to have a studio when we moved in, but it’s the thing keeping me sane now.

Sophy Brown, Longmont, Colorado

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The studio has always been a place where the hours slip past. Recently it’s the days and weeks that slide away.

It’s a place that has in some ways lost its hurry. There’s more time to think and just look.

It’s a place that’s open to experimentation. A the end of the day, there may be a thing made that could not have been imagined the day before.

Old habits get discarded and new ones forming resisted. Expectations tossed out.

It is ever a place for self-isolation; a place where I not only lose myself, but also a place where I come face-to-face with myself.

Chase DuBose, St. Paul, Minnesota

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In the photograph sits my desk — an organized clutter of my daily items. Typically, I’m a metal audio sculpture artist, though in the current times I find it difficult to work in the medium I love. The desktop has a photo from a series I am currently editing, to add to my website in the future, and the laptop screen displays the homepage of my website which I have been updating a lot lately. Next to the keyboard lies a sketchbook with the letter “M” written many times on the page, some of the letters are filled in with small circles. This is so I can occasionally focus on something that requires my hands and isn’t on screen.

I suffer from horrid anxiety and need a way to control what I’m doing so my little doodles such as the M sketch or my cat help calm myself. My cat Wampus keeps me sane as I live alone in an apartment. Hearing his meows in the morning and purrs when he sleeps has really helped my mental state. My parents live overseas and being able to call them and know I will see them in the summer keeps me going.

Deric Carner, Maplewood, NJ

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I was planning to sit out the lockdown in Manhattan because I could walk to my studio and there was plenty there to keep me busy. But when my boyfriend said he was going back to his home in New Jersey, I agreed to join him. I set up a makeshift studio in the basement where I work between bouts of remote work, cooking, and exercise. It is hard to focus and get a full day in the studio with all the distractions and swirling anxiety. I brought the basic tool kit that I might bring to a residency and picked up some materials at a local hardware store. I found a wooden kitchen cart on the street and a folding table in the garage to work on. I mix my plaster and pigments on the cart with a hand blender. Often I hang pieces from hooks on the ceiling so I can work on all sides of the object. I feel lucky to be here and have a space to work on my art.

Willy Bo Richardson, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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I am fortunate to have my wife and 12-year-old daughter as “bunk mates” at home. Our main social stimulation has been going on walks and bike rides.  Somewhat ordinary stones on the path are revealing themselves to be magnificent. I’m currently working on small watercolors in my studio, inspired by the colors I see on our walks. It’s not an ambitious time for me. It’s a time to reflect, read, contemplate, and think about what is most meaningful.

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