A View From the Easel

Welcome to the 226th installment of A View From the Easel, a series in which artists reflect on their workspace. This week, artists thrive amid clutter, bask in sunlight, prefer walls to easels, and find source material in odd places.

Want to take part? Check out our new submission guidelines and share a bit about your studio with us through this form! All mediums and workspaces are welcome, including your home studio.

John Himmelfarb, Chicago, Illinois

I work on many projects at one time, jumping from a painting to making a model for a sculpture or drawing on a litho plate. I don’t clean up very often, waiting until the clutter is so severe that I can no longer find anything or get through the space without endangering myself. Then I start putting things away. If someone is coming to visit, I do a better job, and hang some work for show, as in this photo where I have recent paintings hung. Normally, I leave the walls blank except for what I’m working on. I often collaborate with others. On the table is a work woven in Peru from a print I first drew in Photoshop. The space is in an 1870’s former department store. I leave it as open as possible so I have plenty of room to set up horses or tables to make work surfaces for whatever the next project is, whether it is a hot wax setup for making a sculpture to cast in bronze or drawing color separations for a print. I keep some works on paper in bins, for easy viewing by guests.

Vicky Hoffman, Paso Robles, California

When I walk into my studio, the first thing I see spray painted on the inside of my garage door is a quote from Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher. It reads, “Art is an assault on tranquilized obviousness” and I am reminded of the role of art. 

I make sense of chaos and order in nature and my life. I’m interested in the intersection of the two; the ever-shifting boundaries. Influenced by the gritty, dirty, and unpredictable aspects of life, I find beauty in unexpected places. My process is intuitive and experimental. I often start with a loose idea, then allow the materials to guide the work as it evolves. 

I like using odd materials, such as produce netting bags, burlap tossed by a gardener, Bounce dryer sheets, etc. and some of those materials can be found in the flat files. Orange plastic barriers resting on the bottom shelf of my studio table were used to transfer wet acrylic to Japanese Kozo paper. On the wall of the filing cabinet, various images from my travels may work their way into a painting. For someone who embraces chaos, my studio is fairly tidy and organized which I think is funny.

Laura Elkins, Washington, DC

I have inhabited this studio in the back of our home since 2000 when we moved from rural
Louisiana to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Creating large-scale painted sculptures at the time, I
needed a tall space, so I popped up the roof of the former garage, which had a low profile, to
accommodate the paintings. I like to work on the wall (although I do have an easel) and
sheathed the walls with plywood, covered with sheetrock, to create a smooth, sturdy work
surface. Currently, my work is smaller and I have room to move it around to have several
projects going at once. Since you see only one corner, you can’t see the extent of the chaos that
dominates the space. We had a house fire a few years ago, and I still haven’t unpacked!

Peter Anderson, New London, New Hampshire

My small 20-foot-by-20-foot studio in New London, New Hampshire. Like most artists I have a lot of different things going on at all times — this picture is of 30 prints I am organizing for a show about maps. On the left is a large workspace on wheels — two construction Home Depot saw horses placed on their own Home Depot appliance dollies topped with a 48-by-60-inch piece of plywood. My go-to size for paintings is 48 by 60 so that provides a great support when I need to have the piece flat to work on.  The plywood is topped with one big piece of Plex under which I put stuff that gets generated while painting or creating — it is my “incubation table” of ideas for the future. Lovely sun on winter afternoons.

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