Artists’ Studios

Finally able to get back to painting again after a couple of weeks of no reading, blogging or painting because of a second retinal tear surgery. It’s a huge relief to be working again – next week I’ll be able to swim for the first time since mid October. That was possibly the hardest habit to interrupt.

I’ve been thinking lately about building a separate studio in the backyard. The storage unit down the road won’t do as a live/work space, and I need to relocate my paintings here anyway, as a trade for my looming doctors’ bills. The space houses large paintings that I still have in my possession – ambitious endeavors from the mid ’90’s. I love working on a big canvas, but there’s no room for them in the house unless I sell off the furniture.

In my searches for ideas, here are some spaces I’m fantasizing about.

This post had a list of many studios, I like Judy Pfaff’s compound the best, based in Tivoli, NY, near where she is co-chair of the studio arts program at Bard College. One of her spaces looks like the interior of an airport hangar. This video notes her exclamation that ‘you have to have a lot of space!’.

Picasso and one of  his muses. I wonder if that’s Bardot…

Willem and Elaine deKooning. King and Queen of the castle.

The Belgian artist Luc Tuymans. He was thrown out of every academy he attended.

A 1957 photo by Loomis Dean for Life Magazine of Joan Mitchell in a Paris studio…and her pastel box, with a shot of her studio wall by another well known photographer, David Seidner. We can see postcards of Kline, Motherwell and Van Gogh on her wall, along with animal prints. I need to get his book, Artists at Work.

and this blog had some great shots of Robert Motherwell’s and Helen Franthaler’s studios:

Frankenthaler and Motherwell’s NYC apartment, 1967. Captions from an Art in America article of the same year called “Artists as Collectors”:

Living room in Mr. and Mrs. Robert Motherwell’s brownstone, with Mrs. Motherwell (painter Helen Frankenthaler) seated at far end of room. A Mark Rothko oil hangs over the fireplace.  ….The large blue and white painting is Hlen Frankenthaler’sBlue Tide, 1964. On the lamp stand next to the sofa is Jacques Lipchitz’ bronze study for Ploumanach. Above the sofa are two paintings by Motherwell: America Cup, 1964, and Figure 4 with a Blue Stripe, 1966. Among the objects on the coffee table are bronzes by Rodin (left) and Matisse (right). The painting on the right wall is Motherwell’s The Homely Protestant, 1948.

Porthmeor Studios in the UK reminds me of some of Atlanta’s old warehouse spaces.

The artist John Emanuel in his studio at Porthmeor.

Michigan based painter Stephen Duren, recipient of an Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation grant, in his studio that looks like a large barn.

I just liked this shot of a young Agnes Martin.

Mark Rothko in his East Hampton, NY studio – 1964. Photo by Hans Namuth, courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute.

Sigmar Polke’s studio in Cologne, Germany. A 2007 NY Times article states that he was ‘known to go for months without answering his phone, opening his mail or allowing visitors into his studio’.

An interesting project called ‘Emergency Response’ by the artist Paul Villinski in response to Hurricane Katrina. A mobile trailer outfitted as a temporary green art studio that he situated in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans for eleven weeks in 2006.


My own studio is about 10′ x 20′ long with a tiled floor and a lot of natural light. Functional, but a large barn would be ideal!

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14 Responses to Artists’ Studios

  1. Ali Hossaini says:

    I’m glad you’re up and running again. (Or should I say “up and swimming?”) Your grand tour of artist’s studios was very enjoyable, but I do think yours is best. Good luck on getting your dream space!

  2. V says:

    Ali, thanks for the comment. Artists always want more space – it’s not impossible to work on a large painting in a small room – but not my preference.

    Morris Louis used to work on large scale paintings in his 12’x14′ dining-room, then roll them up and store them. Some of his innovations – leaving the centers bare – resulted from not having enough space! Most were never exhibited during his lifetime.

  3. I absolutely love love love this!!! Seeing how an artist works and the enviornment that they surround themselves in is so interesting!

    A note– I tink that the pic of deKooning is mislabeled– I believe that’s his wife, Elaine, with him, she looks a lot like Lee 🙂

  4. V says:

    Thanks Jamie – and you’re right about Elaine. Renaming!

  5. Laura Prill says:

    All I can say is WOW! Studios are so fascinating to me. I’m fortunate to be able to work in one made years ago from space in our garage and I am grateful for it. Thanks for this inspiring post!

  6. V says:

    Laura, my favorite studio so far was a garage in San Francisco – one with skylights would be perfect.

  7. Ian says:

    My studio space is simply a spare bedroom about 10′ square, into which I have packed a press and a studio easel and lots of wall storage. Some pictures here:

    I don’t have space to work on very large paintings or to store much work in progress, so oils are also out of the question. Even so, it is wonderful to have a space that isn’t shared with other functions

  8. Suzan says:

    I really enjoyed this, fascinating photos. SO GLAD to know that you’re recovering and picking up your normal activities and passions, Vic.
    Have you been reading about how used shipping containers are being converted into all sorts of useful spaces? This could be an inexpensive basic structure- waiting for skylights, power, etc to bring your dream studio to life. some photos here

  9. V says:

    Thanks for the link Suzan – I’ve read about those modular containers. In fact a friend wanted to put one in her own backyard just for the heck of it. They look great – I wonder if they’re tornado proof…

  10. V says:

    Ian, I’m still envious of that new press you have. Your studio looks well organized. I need shelving…

  11. attu says:

    Hello, the photo “Mark Rothko in his NY studio” is actually the spanish artist Jordi Teixidor´s studio in Madrid (Spain) more information

  12. Victoria says:

    Thank you Attu – I’ve updated the Rothko studio shot. I appreciate the correction.

  13. Cameron says:

    Wonderful variety of studio spaces and artists’ options you’ve included here! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Victoria says:

    Thanks, Cameron. I appreciate your visit!

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