Articles

A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

This week, artists reflect on quarantining from their studios in Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, and Chicago.

This is the 177th 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.

Lynda Keeler, Los Angeles, California

.

I feel very fortunate that my studio is in my backyard, behind the garage, and opens up to the garden. It’s a small space but there is enough room to work large on the wall while having room for easel paintings and a table for collage work and my daily sketchbook. My paintings are abstracted maps of neighborhoods that I walk through daily. Over the years I’ve gotten more abstract and incorporate the textures of peeling paint, the shapes of driveways, random garden ornaments, and the colors of the flowers and lawns. During the pandemic I treat myself once a month to a trip to the art supply store close by and love discovering new paints or brushes or tools that I wouldn’t have paid attention to online.

Brittany Miller, Bronx, New York

.

I moved into a live-work space in the Bronx at the edge of Van Cortlandt Park a few weeks before New York City went into lockdown. My studio is a converted living room, attached to a sunny balcony where I grew marigold and peppermint and climbing trumpet vines.

I’ve been working on stretchers built and delivered to my building by fellow New York artist Nicolas Holiber. The wooden shelf, which holds my paint and glass palette, was picked up at a little stationery store in Harlem. The metal easel was gifted to me by my mother last Christmas and is the same as the easels at the New York Studio School, where I had been painting before moving into this space.

The paintings are all visions of dreams I’ve been having in isolation. At the height of the pandemic in the city, I was having nightmares of being caught up in tornadoes, of being chased by Baba Yaga, of being lost in wild forests. I incorporated portraits of my friends, painted from screenshots captured over Zoom.

Marvin Liberman, Madrid, Spain 

.

Before the pandemic here in Madrid my studio had already become a refuge from both everyday matters and the disturbing realities that often surround us. At the same time, my work centers on aspects of that very same reality, namely how we’re altered after experiencing some form of trauma. The viral crisis, confinement, and awareness of so much loss of life have often made working more difficult. It’s impossible not to be affected by it.

As seen, I don’t work with daylight, only with lighting I’ve installed to create a particular kind of intimacy, and yes, drama, an inherent part of the work itself. I’ve come to feel that my art emanates in part from some inner light that we all carry within us. And so this space where I work helps to generate that sensibility. Even the main floor area is covered with gray matting, to protect the floor but also to soften the acoustics in the space. Admittedly, I’m not fond of white, neutral spaces. I feel that neither art nor the space it finds itself in is in any sense ‘neutral.’

While this area is my core work space, earlier work is spread out on walls, a hallway entry space and a small storage area. Nonetheless, things are getting crowded. I use two basic materials (and color): cotton gauze called tarlatan, or mull in the UK, often used in bookbinding and printmaking; more recently, tree branches from our local park, so that the combination of fragile cloth and hard, irregular wood creates a tautness that works well for me.

Bruce Riley, Chicago, Illinois

.

I rent a 500-square foot space across the street from my home. My studio windows look out on a garden lot that I own. I work on tables using self-leveling media. Finished paintings that have not gone out and paintings-in-progress hang on the studio walls. I work on a large group of paintings at any given time. Sizes range from several inches to five-by-eight feet. I paint full-time, so I’m in the studio almost daily. The photo shows my five work tables with storage underneath. Each table has a lighting system with storage above the lights. What you cannot see is the wall of storage that goes to the ceiling. This wall has painting racks and electronic sound equipment that I experiment with. Since self-isolating my introversion has intensified my studio practice. I gain strength in solitude. Painting is not always an easy state of being for me. Every painting that does not happen in one pass always runs into a blockage at some point. These blockages, while difficult, hurt less than before the pandemic. I now see them as necessary to my process. I am gratefully aware of my good fortune.

Cora Jane Glasser, Brooklyn, New York

.

I’m fortunate to have a large studio, allowing me to work on different kinds of things contemporaneously. It is located in Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, it sat vacant for over two months during the height of the pandemic outbreak in New York City. During that time, I made very little art, and instead took many walks and photos, the images imprinting on my brain. When I finally returned to the studio, I worried whether I would be able to pick up where I left off. I couldn’t, but I need not have worried. The first thing I did was a grid of 36 small paintings. They can be seen on the wall behind the ladder, and capture the emptiness and solitude of the pandemic. What changed for me was the use of the human figure, absent from my work for many years. I then felt free to “just paint.” Gone were constraints of expectations, and a sense of play took over. On the column to the center left are two circular leftovers from several collaborations for the USPSartproject. This view faces away from a wall of windows. It captures many of the things I use in my practice: computer, worktable, ladder, tools, and of course, paint.

comments (0)