A View From the Easel During Times of Quarantine

This is the 192nd 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.

Annette Cyr, San Diego, California

I was already in a state of worry and fear in late 2019. By 2020, I found I could no longer focus on my huge “Women in Predicaments” paintings. I let go of grandiose ambitions. I could not paint about my personal struggles in a world of increasing darkness, isolation and anger.

I needed to paint a refuge for myself. I needed to paint, and paint daily because, to stay afloat, I desperately needed to have that sense of connection that painting provides me. I committed to painting and posting doing a painting a day. I wanted simple. I set up a glass fishbowl, with water, no fish, on a white table in front of the bare white studio wall. Using only earth colors, pigments made from dirt, my goal became to capture a moment of light with each painting.

At one point, I put all the 12-inch square paintings on my garage studio wall. 62 canvases fit exactly. That same day I read that 62,000 people had died from Covid in the USA. That means each small painting represents the death of 10,000 fellow Americans.

In my studio, in these small works, I honor each one.

Doug Shaeffer, Chicago, Illinois

My studio is my apartment, but I don’t live there now. Since the pandemic began, I’ve been living across town with my partner and just go back for mail. Actually, I didn’t make work there, but it was a kind of incubator. Now, it’s kind of a museum. There’s decades of work and objects, and since I’ve been gone, it feels like a museum of myself.

Richard Taylor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My studio is set up to create sculpture in the Riverwest area of Milwaukee. Within it you will find a tig welder, metal rollers, a shear, press brake, and other metal-working tools necessary to fabricate sculptures in aluminum and steel. A friend of mine refurbishes old industrial neon signs. I have one hanging in my studio warning me to “Always Be Careful,” which is often a heads-up to me, admonishing me to wear protective eyewear, gloves, respirator, etc., when welding or grinding. Now, however, in times of COVID-19, “Always Be Careful” has added significance, like opening windows and doors for ventilation when someone visits the studio, or keeping a supply of protective masks on hand. My work routine has become much more demanding since the virus hit, as I had to ask my studio assistant to take a leave until we are vaccinated (Always Be Careful). His departure leaves me to do all of the fabricating on my own, and has decreased my productivity. His absence also eliminates the pleasure of camaraderie while making artwork. Much of my work leaves the studio in crates like the ones seen in the photo, adding crate-maker to my studio duties.

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