Articles

A View from the Easel

CHICAGO — The 36th 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.

Mary Gibney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (site)

Mary Gibney studio

This is my workspace. It’s in my bedroom, which has multiple windows and good daylight. I also have an attic studio with a skylight but it’s either cold or hot and too far from a water source and my music. On the easel is a mugshot portrait of Kurt Cobain I’m doing on commission, on the walls are band posters, anatomical illustrations, charts & art prints. I like visual clutter.

On the table in the foreground are books of Weegee and Ernest Withers photos, medical illustrations, and oddities that I use for inspiration for portraits. Not visible is a long table covered with collage materials in various states of completion. My dream is to have even more light, space, and tables so that I can move stuff around to enable accidental combinations. I listen to music when I paint, either a mix on the computer or vinyl records on the turntable in an adjacent room.

Connie Noyes, Chicago, Illinois (site)

Noyes

This is an overview of the main studio space. There is also a big office past the black backdrop, back rear. I have studio visits scheduled all week, and I am organizing everything with the help of my studio manager and interns! The space is MUCH cleaner than usual. We just built vertical storage which double as movable walls and are now in the process of creating inventory sheets for everything in the studio. Yes, I would rather be painting, but this tedious work has to get done.

Justin Beachler, Kansas City, Missouri (site)

beachler

My studio lies in the bowels of our small bungalow’s basement. At one point, my workspace inhabited the table created from a door propped upon two chairs – but from a lack of storage, as you can see, I tend to work on the floor. While this lack of space looks confining, I feel that the restrictive space has forced me to create some of my best (significantly smaller) work and investigate the use of new materials. With a lack of ventilation, I no longer paint with oils and have discovered painting with acrylic on found imagery, typically art magazine/art history book pages and making small sculptures.

To gather the scale of the space, this shot was taken from the stairs. To the left, outside the frame is our laundry room and directly behind the shot is the ironing board crammed up against the furnace. While I do have my own studio bathroom (see toilet in left of frame), the toilet makes a better shelf.

Michael Thomsen, Minneapolis, Minnesota (site)

michael-thomsen-studio

This image is a view of the workbench at my production studio in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s piled with the various antique bric-a-brac, embellishments, and thrift-store treasures that go into my large-scale three-dimensional assemblage sculptures.

At 7 years of age my first job was working for my grandfather, an auctioneer, who hired me to sort trunks and boxes full of trinkets and old-timey miscellanea. Slowly but surely, I began squirreling away the occasional sparkly bauble, old key or foreign coin until I amassed a cigar box full of my own unusual curios — items that have found their way into my sculptures here and there over the years. This little box of pilfered memorabilia was the jumping off point and original inspiration for my work. Since then, I’ve been an obsessive collector of objets d’art.

As self-taught artist, my family roots and unusual childhood experiences are very apparent in my work. In addition to the auctioneer grandfather, my grandfather on my mother’s side was a clockmaker, a painter, and a violinmaker with whom I spent a lot of time growing up. My great uncle, and other relatives that were members of the Danish Royal Circus, ran a carnival, which traveled up and down the coast of California in the 1970s. My childhood recollections of these and other memories are a distinctly visible influence in my work and in the materials that I continue to collect. In turn, my studio is a piece of art within itself and also a constant (if not slightly chaotic) source of creative motivation and visual stimulation for me.

Shane Rodems, Charleston, Illinois (site)

rodems-640

So this is where I work; on art things, fixing bikes, fixing toys, tuning up the car, and other random around the house honey-doos. I share this space with my son Ike’s toys and Christmas decorations and the trash cans. It’s not ideal, but right after grad school with no job, what is? I’m lucky my patient wife let me commandeer the garage at all (she would much rather be parking her car there). All the things that lay around either find their way into a painting or a sculpture or just turn into part of the crap-collection.

I work intuitively so the more things at my disposal the better, I can grab and re-arrange and paint and glue and hammer and cut and stain and drop and play at my will until the “thing” is made. I have finally settled in and in between changing diapers, applying to 10,000 adjunct jobs, and being a family man, I am able to MAKE stuff. Luckily, it has stayed in the 30s for most of this winter!

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