Artist's Notebook

Studio update: Itinerant painter

Contributed by SHaron Butler / Every professor has a wildly optimistic, first-day-of-summer-vacation “List of Things To Do.” Here’s mine. The most significant decision has been to continue working out of my cramped room in the attic rather than rent a proper studio. In a larger space, I could work on more projects concurrently, but renting studio space can also feel like a burdensome ball-and-chain, both psychically and financially. I’ve also decided I’d rather get out and work in the world. Inspired by Austin Thomas, who was voluntarily studio-free for three years, I’ll adapt my projects to suit my space-challenged circumstances, borrow larger space as I need it (Brice Marden, if you’re out there, maybe you have some to spare?) and/or work outside. After all, painting en plein air doesn’t necessarily mean you have to paint a picture of the landscape. With TCOP reader Valerie Larko’s invaluable advice on packing up supplies to travel, I’m preparing to work outside, which is challenging for a reclusive misanthrope like me.

Habitat for Artists
Simon Draper has invited me to participate in “Habitat for Artists.” Draper created a little shantytown of artists studios, shacks really, near Dia Beacon where I’ll be working intermittently throughout the summer. The other artists included are Dar Williams, Chris Albert, Richard Bruce, Alexis Elton, Kathy Feighery, Marnie Hillsley, Matthew Kinney Sara Mussen, and Lori Nozick . The opening reception is Saturday, May 17, so if you feel like taking a trip to Beacon, please stop by. We’re located a short walk from the train station. I’ll be chronicling the evolution of our community throughout the summer.

Ongoing painting projects
In both the “Tower Series” and “Blue and White, Red” paintings, I’ve been exploring the transformation that mechanically-drawn linear perspective undergoes when combined with the vague uncertainty of hand-painted line. Over the summer, I”ll be working on primed, unstretched canvases (40 x 54 inches) tacked to light board, propped against a building with a couple of milk cartons, possibly on the street where you live.

Book Projects
All the book projects I started over the past year, and never quite finished, need attention. Some are written and need images, some have images and need text, some need only be laid out and sent to press. Eventually I hope that the book projects will be available at independent bookstores that specialize in artist books. Stay tuned for publishing dates. Forthcoming titles include White and Blue, Red; Keeping our Distance; Erfindung (sort of); Sharon in the News (Dedicated to Ariel Sharon); and The Search for Moby Dicks.

Plus I’ll continue writing for The Rail, and I have a vague notion to curate a painting exhibition, but more on that later.

Related posts:
Studio update: Itinerant painter (May 9, 2008)
Habitat for Artists: Studio shack update (May 18, 2008)
Studio update: Unplugged in Beacon (June 6, 2008)
Studio update: Studio visits, exhibitions, new work (July 12, 2008)


  1. (Sorry but I’m not sure my last comment got through)

    I worked for many years without a studio. My favorite studio has always been the kitchen. Otherwise I have worked in the hallway to the entrance of my appartment building (back in the days when it was bohemian) and on the front steps and sidewalk of that building. I worked in a communal garden as well as a private garden. For a while a persian carpet was my work space. I would roll it out in the morning and then roll my work and tools back up at end of day.
    The road and sea between Paris, France and Samothraki , Greece was my studio for a summer.
    This summer I will be working on a sailboat and may go out to meet the Gulfstream and work there.
    These spaces work because their boundries are flexible. They don’t work because you are often in someone’s way!

  2. Hi – I just discovered this blog. I’m a painter also living in Beacon and am excited to read more. If you get a chance, please check out my work in the gallery @ Hudson Beach Glass, up til Sept. 7.

    I like having a studio mostly because I can’t go online there and get diverted, which I’m liable to do at home. I’ll give myself a whole schpiel about how it’s “part of the process” which is valid, but only up to a point. Gotta do it.
    Jen Bradford

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