A View From the Easel 

Welcome to the 223rd installment of A View From the Easel, a series in which artists reflect on their workspace. This week, artists bring yoga into the studio, turn to whales and seashells for inspiration, collect abandoned crochet projects, and walk us through the clay monoprinting process.

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

Eliot Spaulding, Santa Barbara, California

The plywood supply holder was one of the first things I built when setting up my studio space in 2019. Along the front of this shelf is where I place my beach finds du jour. I am constantly revising this collection to reflect my current favorite/most intriguing treasures. Sometimes it is the object’s form that captures me, its natural patterning, ocean-worn patina, or construction. I work with found materials, both natural and human-made that I happen upon in nature.

I’ve been reading a lot about whales recently as I am in the midst of an expansive installation project that engages public participation in contemporary whale conservation efforts in my hometown channel. The hand-stitched fabric swatches are samples I’ve made for an upcoming visible mending workshop related to this “10 Knots” project.

I work across mediums, but primarily in the fiber arts, and am influenced by highly skilled textile craft work from the past. Most pieces in my lace collection were given to me by friends, pieces from their parents or grandparents that they see the beauty in, but have trouble finding use for in their modern lives.

Andrew Smith, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

I’m a visual artist creating clay monoprints — a unique art form where prints are made but using colored clay rather than ink or paints. The clay designs are “pulled” (transferred) to the material with a very thin layer of clay adhering.

The workspace is a clay slab (the matrix) upon which the artwork is designed. One container shown is clay slip, clay with water added to create a workable thickness. (Slightly thicker than house paint for this.) Yellow pigment was added to make the color I was looking for. Some of this slip (as well as some slip from previous designs) will transfer to the material for the print.

The container to the right of the yellow slip holds dry, colored clay chips. These can be placed/scattered on the matrix as a design element. These would be used judiciously rather than frequently.

The blue painter’s tape has several purposes, including making on-the-spot stencils if forming geometric elements.

When the design is finished, the material for the artwork (pellon, reemay, etc.) is placed on the slab/matrix, and pressure is applied with a sturdy pastry roller and/or the bowl of a spoon. 

Helena Wadsley, Vancouver, Canada

My studio is filled with art and materials made and collected over the years. I realized recently that I need never buy more materials if I re-purpose those already in my studio. I collect unfinished knitting or crochet projects I find in thrift stores and use them in collages and sculptures. Here I am working on a series of abstract collages using some crocheted pieces, adding them to wood panels, then adding some thread and paint to bring them into the language of painting. I like knowing that I can walk into my studio no matter my mood or length of time since I was last there and instantly start creating. This space is my sanctuary. While it is in a troubled neighbourhood in Vancouver, I feel calm and filled with creative energy when I am there.

Christina Hall-Strauss, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I work both at the easel and at the drawing tables on the left. On the right wall I hang paintings in progress, to look at them. The center station is a surface for taking notes on the music I’m listening to, or to write down ideas for future paintings. (Under this area I stash my yoga props.) On the left are flat files for works on paper. Behind the viewer is a storage area for paintings. High windows on the left face north; the glass doors face east.

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