CHICAGO — The 29th 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.

Maria Cassapidis, Chios, Greece (site)

I live in Greece on one of the less well known islands in the North Aegean. My studio is quite small but extends out into the patio during the warm months which luckily are quite a few. The light is from the north-east and the studio and patio look onto an olive tree and orange tree grove. I try to be in the studio every day after work (teaching art) and as often as I can, I go out into nature. I use my camera a lot and my Mac to work with themes. I work with a variety of materials, even with mineral pigments, and I get a lot of ideas from nature.

Mathew Greco, Astoria, New York (site)

So this is my studio in the Long Island City area, which I share with my grad school mate Jim Cassidy. What a mess! I do love it though; there is a real energy and vitality that I feel when I walk in the door. There are at least a hundred works of art that are in that studio, I just have to carve them out of the piles of stuff everywhere. NYC is a cornucopia of discarded materials and if you make work out of recycled/reused/discarded materials it’s hard to walk to the studio without picking something up along the way, which is why it is so important that the things that come in as raw materials leave as art. Too much art or too many materials and it throws a very delicate balance off.

You can see: what used to be a BSA motorcycle and will be one again soon (British motorcycles, talk about works of art). You can just see the handle on our pink hand truck (indispensable) and an old high chair that’s in that in-between phase of art/junk. A slop sink and a loft which is critical to working clean and to economic use of studio space. Tables, tables, and more tables, as primarily sculptors you can’t have enough places to put things down.

A work bench (and now this is important because workbenches and their history are important) that my studio mate’s grandfather owned, it was made for him by the workers he oversaw at Bell Telephone when he worked as a foreman there in the 1950s — such a sweet workbench.

On that workbench are lots of tools: hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, planes, picks, awls, clamps, files, pliers, drill bits, counter-sinks, taps, measuring tapes, etc. Above are shelves that hold all manner of wire, string, rope, twine, and tape. Also on that bench is a large metal vice, a large wooden vise, a power strip, and a tea kettle. There is our big industrial fan because air conditioning is too expensive right now, a potter’s wheel since we both work in clay every now and again, a gallon of WD-40, an air compressor, a jigsaw, clip lamps, and about a thousand other things. And yes: hanging on the opposite wall is a tutu (don’t ask).

If anyone dares to physically visit, you are more than welcome. I’ll put the kettle on.

Jeff Molloy, Gabriola Island, British Columbia (site)

My studio is designed to be modified to suit the type of work that I’m creating at any given time. I have eight 4′ x 8’tables that come and go. My studio is 30′ x 30′ with storage cabinets on the back wall that run the entire length of the studio. I’m a mixed media artist with the emphasis on MIXED.

You can also see several melting pots for encaustic, glues, acrylics, raw damar, oil painting pallets spread around the studio. Also visible are strips of blankets that I have soaked in a red dye and placed over a pole to dry. I like to surround myself with the work until the series is complete. I empty and clean the studio after each body of work and promptly start creating chaos all over again!

Megan Chapman, Fayetteville, Arkansas (site)

My studio is in the attic of my childhood home and runs the length of my house. It has a window on the east side and a window on the west. It has sloped walls and hard wood floors. The stairs that lead up to it are steep and painted blue. I have a painting area on the east side of my studio containing two easels, a rolling cart for my paints, a large supply bin, and a work table.

I use two light stands with full spectrum bulbs to illuminate my work area. As I work, I prop up paintings in a corridor that is made up of a table on one side of the room and the stair railing on the other. This is where my paintings wait at attention to see if they make the cut or need reworking. On the west side of my studio, I have an office area with a large work table, a file cabinet and a flat file as well as other necessary tools for business. This is where I write ‘thank you’ notes, keep track of inventory and plan for my future exhibitions.

My studio is a simple space and I use every bit of it. It is free of clutter and contains art books, art magazines, inspirational pictures, and quotes. I try to keep my “regular” life out of it as much as possible so that when I enter the space I can dive into the world of my art and get to work.

For now this studio is just what I need, it is always patiently waiting and ready for me. I don’t have to drive across town to get to it or worry about paying additional rent for the space. I can roll out of bed and get right to work and I can wear old funky clothes covered in paint, listen to loud music and be completely free while working. I have recently returned to my home studio after having a studio outside my house for two and half years. I miss the community of artists and the exposure from that experience but equally I love the solitude and the ability to just walk upstairs to work. It is the best of both worlds when it comes to affordability and convenience. My studio is the room that my two older brothers slept in while growing up and when it was their room, I once had a field day scribbling all over the walls (and their stuff) in orange marker as a young child. Perhaps this space has always inspired me.

Kevin Swallow, Chicago, Illinois (site)

My studio is located in a former icehouse in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. I’ve worked in this studio for the last seven years and share the space with another artist.

The building is home to over 40 artists working in all kinds of media. It’s a two-story red brick warehouse sandwiched in between the “L” and Metra train tracks. For me, this studio is a space that inspires creativity — trains rumbling past, exposed brick, wood ceiling beams, and windows with views of the neighborhood.

I usually organize my space into connected work areas and change the arrangement every year or so. This is how it looks now. I mostly paint on the easel in the center of my space to get the best light and enough room to work on larger pieces. I draw and paint on the large table in the center and sometimes on the display wall to the right. For easy access, I keep my paint tubes and drawing materials next to the easel on a small table and taboret. Along the brick wall is a metal storage shelf where I keep drawings, photographs and screen prints. To the left of that is a workbench that I use for mixing paints and for storage. I keep my brushes and painting tools on top of the drop-leaf table in the front. There is also a sitting area off to the left that separates me and my studio mate’s workspaces.

I had home studios for years, but it’s great to have this separate creative space without other distractions. It’s also been inspiring for me to be in a building with other artists. Having that community has influenced my art and helped me take things to a more professional level. I enjoy talking with the other artists, giving and getting feedback and seeing what everyone is working on. The periodic open studio events we host have given me exposure to collectors that I wouldn’t normally get by just working out of my home. Being in this studio has also helped me to focus a lot more on developing my art and being more disciplined with my studio practice.

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Philip A Hartigan

Philip Hartigan is a UK-born artist and writer who now lives, works and teaches in Chicago. He also writes occasionally for Time Out-Chicago. Personal narratives (his own, other peoples', and invented)...

2 replies on “A View from the Easel”

  1. The view from the easel is great!!! I could see a book coming out of this. Maybe a zine?
    I love to see other artists work spaces. Bravo!

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