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A View from the Easel

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A View from the Easel


This the latest installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. Want to take part? Submit your studio — just check out the submission guidelines.

Judith Pratt, Piedmont Region, Virginia

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My studio is a converted dairy barn located in the Piedmont region of Virginia, 100 miles west of Washington, DC.  The Piedmont is my birthplace and a place of complex history, topography, and Southern nuances that continually influence my work.

A short distance away is photographer Sally Mann’s studio, and also where Cy Twombly’s studio was located when he was not working in Rome. While I never had the privilege of meeting these two artists, I still feel that proximity to kindred spirits in the Piedmont helps to support my work.

Like Twombly, my work embodies characteristics of both painting and sculpture. My work is constructed entirely of Lenox 100 paper (a 100% domestic cotton paper that references Virginia’s history of chattel slavery) and acrylic paint. An installation comprises a room-size area of forms that includes the walls and floor. Because of this out-of-the-way Piedmont location, I am perpetually traveling between the studio, the nation’s capital, and New York to cover all the necessary bases required of a professional artist, an administrator, and a board member of a DC nonprofit arts organization. The result is a schedule that surprisingly enhances, rather than impedes, productivity in the studio.

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Here is a photo-collage of the various workspaces in my studio. Furthest left, the entryway, is where I keep my reference books and maps and where I hang my oil paintings that await oiling out. Found stuff from nature walks end up here too, like the madrone branch I picked up while hiking the Santa Cruz mountains. Top left is a photo of my heavy-duty work table where I stand for hours carving, printmaking and prepping canvases. Supplies are stored in carts below. I wheel them in and out as needed.

On the white table rests my antique typewriter. This is where I type text for my handmade books. Beside the table is my art horse where I relax and create large-scale drawings. My standing easel is by the window. I begin many of my paintings on my table and complete them on the easel. When I need a quiet place to read, write or contemplate away from the chaos of my studio, I use the reading desk outside of my studio. No clutter, no mess, means I can concentrate on just one project. When I am working on several projects at a time, then inside the actual studio is where I work.

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My studio is located in the lower level of our twin rancher in the NE section of Philadelphia, PA. I get my lighting mostly from a variety artificial lights, but also the block of windows in the back of this photo. I work from my long aluminum table, which gives me plenty of room along with the floor for my larger canvases the easel is used to keep track of my progress. I am able to view my current work when daily since the doorway reaches out to our washroom and exit door. On the table is a concoction of acrylic paint, oil pastels, some mediums. I also work in oil paint and oil sticks.

In the background, right side of photo, you can see my treadmill used to walk away my frustrations and keep me motivated.

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Here is an image of my studio. I am an experimental artist working in paint and melted polystyrene in Bushwick. What you see here are numerous pieces in various states of completion. I often get to a point with some and pause. They are eventually completed on their own or are cannibalized for parts for other pieces.

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About a year ago we finished renovating our basement and I was able to expand into a larger studio space. I have been working from home since my daughters were born, 16 and 14 years ago. We moved many times during that period, and at one point my studio was a closet. But I kept making work throughout, scaling my materials and process to the space that I had available.

For many of these years my focus was on painting and other 2-d work, mostly because it was so much more practical to make and store. But now that I have a big studio, I can return to making sculpture inspired by my pre-motherhood career as a mask and puppet designer and builder. I’ve grown so much since the last time I made work in this vein. It feels like a return, but also a progression.





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