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This is the 195th 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.
Kendra Larson, Portland, Oregon
My studio space means the world to me. It is where I paint mysterious lands seeped in magic, wonder, and fear. Since the pandemic started, my studio has become my social world and virtual classroom where I teach college students to draw while my five-year-old son plays nearby. Approximately 15 feet from the back door of my house in Portland Oregon, this oasis of art, work, and family lies.
This year has made me grateful for a home studio (convenient and isolated), yet the anxiety of these times has made me feel a bit untethered, like floating without control. In response I found that working smaller and on paper gives me predictability and peace that are very important for my mental health. Recently, as a response to the wildfires, I have started a daily practice of creating oil pastel drawings of smoke. These are exploring the overlap of sublimity and environmental concerns. I also see the repetition of this daily ritual as a meditation on the monotony of life during the pandemic. My hope is that my little studio world can be transformed into a large, wondrous world of beauty and magic for my viewers.
Arlene Gale Milgram, Trenton, New Jersey
I have always been a more serious artist than my studio space would imply. I carry out my practice on my kitchen table, the floor between bedroom and bathroom, and on a drawing table in the living room. The pandemic cut down even on that small space because cooking has become almost as important as art making these days. For that reason the kitchen table is off limits.
These new restrictions mean I have to commit to one media at a time. I started the pandemic repurposing old prints into new collages. Currently I am involved with exploring watercolor, a favorite media from my past. I can work two paintings at a time, moving them from floor to table in turn. The immediacy of watercolor suits my new inability to focus for long periods of time. I make a mark and let it be. What may start randomly, becomes meditative. A day of painting may result in three days of repair during which I can reclaim the painting and deal with whatever is on my mind that is expressed therein. Posting it immediately on Instagram is a way to signal the end of one piece and a reason to soon begin again. There is an immediate, if not in-person response. In a time when I’m not actively showing my work, this allows some exposure and feedback.
Working this way feels right for this time. There is comfort in making meaning from random marks. A media that is easily out of control mirrors a society ravaged by a random virus.
Aleya Hoerlein, Taos, New Mexico
I’ve established a space to work that is mostly very minimal, paintings hang on the north wall to dry and I work on those in progress on the west wall. A rolling table roams about the room with me; it is covered in brushes, paints, and palettes. The shapes I paint convey both negative and positive spaces, sometimes a dark color recedes into a void, a nothingness; at other times, the darkness becomes the subject and gradients of colors become the background. The gradients are a gradually dawning or dimming light source, an expansion, and a fleeting moment of time.
I began this new series of abstract, hard-edged oil paintings during the pandemic to express my desire for closeness and meaning in a time of isolation. The pandemic has created loneliness, distance from and longing for loved ones, and feelings of uncertainty and emptiness. It has created a time that seems endless while also making us feel as if time doesn’t exist. But, it has also offered new beginnings for many of us. For me, isolation has been a time for self-reflection, for starting new projects, for discovering new directions in my work.