This is the 194th 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 impacted their studio space and/or if their work process has changed while quarantining. Want to take part? Please submit your studio! Just check out the submission guidelines.
Tamara English, Portland, Oregon
In my studio practice there are usually between 10 and 30 paintings in process at a time. I find working with multiple palettes and sizes cultivates more exploration and experimentation. This body of work, called The Great Uplift, first appeared in 2019, arising out of some research I was doing on studies about the effects of consistent meditation practices, responding to meditators’ reports of experiences of spaciousness and buoyancy.
When the coronavirus pandemic began to cause numerous countries to implement stay-at-home orders, I reflected on this idea of living in interior space, both physically inside and also more inside oneself. As an artist working in a home-based studio, my daily process in the studio barely changed. What did change for me was a deeper understanding of what it means to tend to the well-being of one’s inner life. In the studio I would ask these questions: Can we meet the uncertainties of this time with a spaciousness that allows us to rise above worries and concerns in our inner landscapes? Can we be uplifted inside, so that we can navigate these strange times with resilience and grace? These paintings feel so perfect for this time.
Richard Keen, Brunswick, Maine
For over a decade, my primary studio has been within Fort Andross, an old mill in Brunswick, Maine. It is an exciting community to be a part of, and my studio has amazing high ceilings, big windows, and lots of natural light bouncing off the Androscoggin River. It’s a stunning space, and I feel really fortunate to be there. When the pandemic hit, and Maine went under a “shelter in place” order from the governor, I decided to create a “bunker” studio in the basement of my home. My small home studio is simultaneously challenging and comforting. The ceilings are low, the windows are small, and I have the sounds of my family life going on above me — but these limits and the increased intimacy between my art and my home life have pushed me to see and interact with my work in fundamentally different ways. I’ve begun to think of my home studio more as “incubator” than “bunker,” and when I move the paintings from home to my mill studio for completion — I’m just amazed. It opens them up in entirely new ways.
Tyler Barnett, Malibu, California
Here’s a picture of my studio located in Malibu, just steps away from the Pacific Ocean. In the beginning of 2020 I expanded this space with the intention of opening up a gallery called Enso Gallery; however, the pandemic put a temporary hold on that plan.
I had the space to myself. My thoughts, which were once calm, were now running wild. The walls, which were completely white at the beginning of the pandemic, were now starting to become part of my creative process. There’s something about painting your walls that triggers a part of your brain to let you know that it’s OK not to hold back your expression.
Those circles you see are the enso, which inspires much of my work. Drawing the enso helped me control my thoughts, which was difficult to do amid the chaos of last year. The roman numerals next to the masked face represent a quote from Nikola Tesla that I think about often: “If you knew the magnificence of three, six, and nine, you would have a key to the universe.” Every time I look at these walls, I feel at peace and my creative potential feels unlimited.