A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

This is the 178th 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 changed their studio space and/or if they are focusing on particular projects while quarantining. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Norah Lovell, New Orleans, Louisiana

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I live in an 1880s shot gun-style house on the banks of the Mississippi river in New Orleans, and at the onset of the quarantine brought my studio home into the front parlor. The room is fairly small but has a very tall front window that overlooks a filigree of willow and oak, and like many others I’ve discovered birds seemingly for the first time. I’ve had to negotiate this prime real estate with my feline (pictured atop the cupboard), and you’ll note that my makeshift sketching/journaling spot is a flagrant grab of the abode’s literal cat bird seat. Due to the constraints of my setup, I’ve gravitated to small-scale practices; however, the relative expanse of an unclaimed fireplace hearth (pictured center) allowed me to spread out and hand paint every nook and cornice over a six-month period. I had always wanted to do something like this, and the question loomed, “if not now, when…” Prior to the pandemic I was preparing to exhibit a series about a present gap along the US-Mexico Border Wall and the imagined life of human and non-human animals in transit. The show never opened, but I unfolded the narrative of imperiled species — migrants, jaguarundi, and warblers amongst others in a mix of Aesop and Bloomsbury. I was reminded that those artists (Bloomsbury) also looked to the interior for meaning, reinventing labor, commerce, and value in a material age that had gone careening to the cliff’s edge.

Anne Bedrick, Cathedral City, California

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My studio is in a converted warehouse in the Perez Road Art District, near Palm Springs. At the front is a small gallery and in the back is my studio. Prior to COVID-19, we hosted a monthly First-Friday Art Walk. Locals looked forward to visiting our spaces to see what we had created.

I miss the regular visitors but welcome the increased time alone with my canvases.

I have recently switched to acrylic paints because I find that they better meet my current needs: I am able to work at a faster pace to create more layers, which capture the complicated pendulum of emotions of this time. I paint on the walls, which allow me to spread out and work on a large scale. Being able to fully move my body while creating allows me a different, more visceral, level of expression. It has been interesting to see how my work has changed during the pandemic, becoming grittier and much more complex.

I am in my studio most days either painting, working at my desk on the business side of things, or reflecting on work in progress.

Ingrid Lohr Matuszewski, Arlington, Virginia

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What makes a great studio space? Supervision, of course. Meet Delilah, my studio dog.

I am a plein-air and studio painter of original landscapes. I take my inspiration from regional landscapes around the Greater Washington, DC area and rural Virginia countryside. I paint what makes me happy in a loose and carefree style in both oils and acrylics.

The great thing about being a plein-air painter is that I am able to still do my job outside in beautiful places even with recent restrictions. I bring home to my studio any paintings that need finishing touches and  begin new pieces based on my time outdoors. Over the last few months, more than ever, I have felt the need to paint large landscapes of peaceful vistas that bring rest to the soul.

I begin every day in this studio by lighting my Japanese temple incense (I spent four years living and working in Japan), plugging in my water fountain and twinkle lights and thinking about my day ahead before I start creating.

Sutton Trout, San Anselmo, California

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My studio is a 400-square-foot building on my property. Luckily, we were able to tear down a decaying rat infested shed from the ’50s and replace it with a modern, light-filled, air conditioned garage/studio. Thankful to have done the work last year before COVID-19 hit!

I’ve been painting since 2011, and my 10-year-old daughter and I use this space for painting and crafting. My daughter is extraordinarily talented — I so enjoy our time creating together and watching her growth. What you don’t see here is my home office and the gym area. I go through periods of high creativity — just cranking out paintings usually from pics I’ve taken. Lately with work and life, my output has slowed. Just the natural ebb and flow of creative juices.

Sally Dion, Dover, New Hampshire

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I am currently getting my MFA — or was until the pandemic forced me to take a semester off.  Just before the shutdown, however, I found a safe place in my neighborhood to continue my practice printing. I have been a printmaker for over 30 years but never had my own press. Last year I met Rebecca Proctor, a studio and gallery owner, who had a keen interest in opening a printmaking studio at the Art Center in Dover. The press was delivered on March 15, 2020 and four days later our state went into full quarantine. Who knew I would have the luxury to print whenever I wanted? I peacefully spread out in the lovely space and started to create six-foot tall monoprints on silk depicting narratives of a pandemic and stories of protest. The last several months I have had the privilege of teaching monoprints and other printmaking techniques. The safety rules for the class are carried over from my day job as a dental hygienist. I have enjoyed my time alone in the studio but know that it will end, hopefully soon.

This week, artists reflect on quarantining from their studios in New Orleans, San Anselmo, Dover, Arlington, and Cathedral City.Read MoreArticles, A View from the Easel, COVID-19 quarantineHyperallergicRead More

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