It is fascinating to get a sneak peak into the lives and work spaces of other people, especially artists!
We get to see a rare view of the artist at work, see their tools strewn about (or not) and gain some insight to their unique creative processes. Many of our artists took a moment, last year in May of 2020, to share a view of their studio with us. We asked to take another moment and update us on how the past year as been for them.
Below are the artist’s updated responses. Stay tuned as we will be adding another artist next week!
And make sure to click on the image to download a .pdf version or to view the graphics larger.
Barbara Snyder – Photographer & Artist (June 2021)
Barbara Snyder’s Studio View – – June 2021 (Click here to read Barbara’s comments)
Joan McLoughlin – Painter (June 2021)
Joan McLoughlin’s Studio View – June 2021 (Click here to read Joan’s comments)
Jeri Greenberg – Pastels (May 2021)
Jeri Greenberg’s Studio View – May 2021 (Click here to read Jeri’s comments)
Elizabeth Darrow – Painter & Collage (May 2021)
Elizabeth Darrow’s Studio View – May 2021 (Click here to read Elizabeth’s comments)
May 2020 Versions
Joanne Geisel – Painter (May 25, 2020)
When we first started to social distance, I thought that my life’s changes were minor. The biggest part of my day continued to be focused on painting but without concerns about teaching and delivering paintings to shows and galleries. Now after weeks into it, I realize my life has changed quite a bit. The subject of my paintings has quite organically taken the theme of one of my favorite places to paint and I find that I have escaped to Bald Head Island! From my photos I am revisiting the expansive skies, the outstanding view from Captain Charlie’s Station and the glorious beaches.
I find that now I have time to watch other painters do demonstrations on the computer and to experiment with techniques and colors. I am visiting with old friends and family more often through video chatting and phone calls.
Although at times I am eager for the isolation to end, I consider myself too fortunate to complain. My husband of 45 years and I laugh throughout the day. I have wonderful neighbors with whom I occasionally chat. I can take walks, bike, weed in our flower beds and there is plenty of time to explore new dinner dishes knowing I will find a continuous array of food from our supermarkets.
I am keenly aware that life is not like this everywhere and that many people are very fearful. Although I feel I am living in a bubble, I am following the news and the virus information closely and am very attentive to how our world’s story and the local narrative are unfolding.
Angela Rowe – Painter (May 27, 2020)
Tuesday, March 17, we flew out of the San Francisco airport. We had been in California visiting our children and grandchildren for two weeks, watching as the streets grew emptier, the grocery lines longer and I had been constantly worrying we would not be able to get home. So grateful when we landed in Wilmington. We got our dog from the vet and hunkered down to self monitor and stay at home for two weeks. We joined the NPR wine club and learned a lot about online ordering.
Enormous gratitude for my friends. One of them delivered supplies and equipment I needed to work from ACME and returned a few days later with a huge bag of fresh mustard greens. Two other friends brought my ceramics tools and partially finished work from Cape Fear Community College when the campus closed. I waved from the window. We ended the two weeks at home – with no symptoms – right as the NC stay at home order went into effect.
Try as I did, I just could not get work going – feeling scattered and distracted. And I could not take the constant news on the radio. I tried painting on the porch, working at a table by the window. Then another good friend and studio mate gave me a lifeline: painting to audio books from the library. Magic. I have been all over the world thanks to my headphones and the New Hanover County Library. And now I am back social distancing in my studio at ACME – even more appreciating the light, my good easel and having all of my stuff at hand.
Against all of these changes, I do not know if this is the most beautiful spring ever – or if I was just finally forced to stop and look. We sit on our back porch and marvel at the incredible spring weather, watch the hawks hunting, and look for the bats that come out each night.
Kirah Van Sickle – Painter (May 29, 2020)
“Art in the Time of Corona”
As an instructor and adventure traveler who designs artist getaways/workshops…the seismic shift that is Covid-19 brought me out of the clouds and back to earth rather quickly. As well as back into my studio. My home studio is small but gets lots of light. It has become my haven, a cove in which I have settled into a daily routine of art-making. This was not the case before. Outdoors, the various air bnb’s that make up my temporary homes away from home and all the classrooms I teach were my primary studio spaces. I had learned to be efficiently mobile with my art supplies.
What I am enjoying in this time of quiet and stay-at-home, is a reconnection to what I love about a disruption…it feeds our creativity and sends us into imaginative problem-solving mode. There is much entropy in my studio these days, a sea of plastic storage bins scattered about, tubes of paint, brushes, craft papers, paper towels and lots of paint drips on the floor. The ever-present tripod and video setup greets me each morning as I transition my space into a virtual classroom and multimedia production studio. Multiple canvases in progress leaning against the wall waiting their turn for time on the easel. I love that I have that easel time, and my favorite tools at my fingertips. Now if I can just get it better organized! My studio always feels like the laboratory of a mad scientist. I didn’t always give myself the daily permission to focus on my art-making, there was always another work distraction. A wearer of many hats. Amazing how we artists tend to get into a rhythm of neglecting our own process while encouraging and sustaining others. I am finding a balance and staking a claim.
I’ve always been aware that artists and creatives thrive on disruption, perhaps why I enjoy the challenge of travel, plein air painting, mixed media experimentation. We have to adjust and think on our feet. It provides new perspective, new colors, new layers on our world and history and space. As an anatomist of the world, I am embracing the unknown, making new art, and…staying home.
Elizabeth Darrow – Painter & Collage (June 1, 2020)
When the news of the corona virus hit, I started watching TV news for the first time. I was mesmerized. Then I joined Facebook. Facebook, that I had always eschewed, suddenly presented itself as a good idea: a way to stay in touch with friends and family now that everything was altered. So between the vortex of TV News (several stations, and several narratives) and the rabbit hole of Facebook (endlessly addictive), I lost my motivation to go out to the studio and face my inability to focus on painting.
But one project did call to me… just a bit……..an idea that has popped into and out of my head a few times over the years: I have accumulated so many used paint brushes –hundreds and hundreds of them. . They’re no good for painting anymore, but I’ve never thrown them out, even when I stopped using them. I’ve often thought they could be used someday, in some way, artistically, sculpturally, and so, this project began when I realized this was a different time now. Sort of an interlude where we were all assessing things…What’s what? Where is this going? What’s to come?
In my kitchen cabinet I have a large container of wheat flour that I never use. I Googled “wheat paste”. I learned what to do. Rip up some newspapers. Mix up the flour and water on the stove.
“I can give this brush a face”, I thought…so I began paper-macheing faces on my old paint brushes. Personifying them. One at a time…making new friends, out of old friends, during the time of quarantine.
I’m waiting for the pegboard to arrive, so I can affix them to their place. “Thank You For Your Service” will be the title.
This project has loosened me up to get back to painting….to turn off The News…to experiment again with paint on canvas…to play in present time….to see what unfolds, day after day.
Helen Lewis – Encaustic Painter (June 2021)
Some thoughts from Helen Lewis during this time of COVID 19 quarantine…
Like everyone, my husband and I have experienced some challenges during these weeks and months of quarantine due to the COVID 19 virus. Our two small family owned businesses have both been closed and employees laid off until just last week. We have now reopened with restrictions and more safety measures in place, but have had minimal customers and so our concerns continue about how well our businesses will be able to bounce back. However, we hope for the best and march on.
One of the most difficult aspects of this season for us has been the social distancing from our two young grandsons and their parents. We know that soon we will feel safer about spending time with them again and we look forward to that day.
A positive for me through all of this situation has been my art practice. It has been gratifying to watch two of my galleries — with Art in Bloom Gallery being one — pivot and quickly implement creative ways to virtually/online reach both collectors and art lovers who simply want to continue to view art during these days. In the face of such dark and unsettling times, it is heartening that many still believe that beauty matters and therefore, take steps to pursue it.For me personally, I am glad that my studio is at home and I have been able to put in long hours there doing what I love. Art for me is a place to find peace and once again find my center when life has thrown us all a bit off kilter. It serves as a place of spiritual connection for me that has proven to be a true lifeline during this time. I’m very grateful for my art. I’m grateful for my galleries and for each person who cares about art and beauty.
I’d like to close with this admonition from contemporary writer, Shauna Niequist: “Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making your art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.”
Debra Bucci – Painter (June 5, 2020)
How have I been impacted by Covid-19?
The news is overwhelming…heartbreaking…so much that it has magnified my focus to paint “uplifting” art.
What is on the easel?
Since the only place we can go is to the garden centers, that has become my inspiration. I am painting flower gardens….really big flower gardens! The kind you use as an escape.
Am I worried?
I am but I try to focus on the positive. I have always used my art as a distraction from the overwhelming. If I focus on the art in progress, I can temporarily block out the stress. My hope is to create enough work to raffle some off for charity.
How is the social distancing going?
My husband is not traveling and having him home is a blast, although, I am grateful that he can still golf:). I miss dinners out with friends and family, Fourth Fridays at the Art Gallery and going to the gym. As a full time artist, I am used to the long hours of isolation. After years in Corporate America, I appreciate the quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.
Any final thoughts?
My appreciation level for “special moments” is off the charts! Wilmington seems to be in a bubble, thank goodness and I feel blessed that friends and family are safe and healthy. Like everyone else, I am constantly thinking of ways to help like getting take out food to support the local restaurants. My next step is to help with food distribution.
Brian Evans & Dianne Evans – Ceramicists (June 12, 2020)
COVID –19: Challenges and Successes in the Studio
When discussing our artwork, we normally address this topic as independent artists. Since we are spending much more time in the studio together, due to the quarantine, we thought that combining our experiences was a better approach in this case. The biggest benefit of working together is sharing ideas and asking one another for constructive input. One immediate realization is that we need a much larger studio. Adjusting to two people in a 400 square foot workspace has been a challenge. Thankfully our dog “Wagner” doesn’t take up much space. Wagner is enjoying spending every waking hour with us.
COVID-19 has also affected our work habits and creativity. We both have had more time to experiment with new ideas and to see those ideas evolve and come to fruition. In exploring new ideas, we have had successes, but we have also had some ideas that didn’t work out the way we anticipated. That is a part of the creative process. The unsuccessful projects can be positive by taking aspects that you like and allowing them to evolve in a new direction. Without the added pressure, we are able to explore all avenues of creativity.
Due to the quarantine, we have had to make adjustments to our daily lives. We have had show cancellations, galleries have closed, and Brian’s classes at Orange Street Pottery have been postponed. Dianne has been working from home for UNCW as well as working in the studio evenings and on weekends. It has been somewhat of a luxury to have the time to be more creative without having to worry as much about deadlines. We are building up inventory in anticipation of things opening back up in the summer or the fall. We are adjusting well, but we are looking forward to new opportunities.
Gale Smith – Painter & Metal Artist (June 15, 2020)
“The Great Pause”
The first week of March was the last normal workweek for most parts of the country and little did I know that on March 27, 2020, life would take a Great Pause. The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic made sure of that.
Our Governor issued a “Stay at Home” order to begin and then implemented the social distancing guidelines. For many artists, “stay at home” and the 6- foot social distancing guidelines aren’t far from our norm. We are a solitary people anyway, paint by ourselves, so we’re not really meeting a lot of people in our studios. PleinAir painting with my artist friends is no longer taking place so most of my time is spent working in my studio. This “pause” has given me the needed creative space to branch outside of my comfort zone and try ways to take my artwork to new levels. I’m using this time to create and engineer free standing Copper Sculptures and to find ways to add more movement into my Woven Copper Designs.
My day begins with finding inspiration from walks in our vegetable and flower gardens, to see new beauty blooming, fresh colors appearing and experience sweet springtime scents. This inspiration takes me into my studio with a certain calm which I am incorporating into my new works. .
As with most others, during this unsettling time, we make a grocery list, grab our masks and gloves and go to the store one day a week early in the morning. Is this going to be the new typical day people ask? It’s hard to image how a day will be after the pandemic is over.
Sheltering in place has become a time to rethink and reimagine, to be receptive to the concerns of others, to develop and seek comfort within. I am grateful for this pause to create, but I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with my family, friends and my creative community in person again.
David A. Norris – Print Maker & Drawing (June 19, 2020)
My Studio During the Pandemic
Like a lot of people, I experienced a stunningly quick slide into “lockdown” and working from home as best I could. My studio is a room in our house. Although the art materials and books share space with a shelf of cookbooks and some gardening supplies, the studio is perfectly suited to me.
When first finding myself confined to the house, I got little artwork done at all. I’m a freelance writer, and so I still have some work to do at home. From the earliest days of living in lockdown, it has been important to keep in touch with my family and a large network of friends. So, when I left my writing projects a lot of my studio time went into writing letters and making postcards, not to mention phone calls, texts, and e-mails.
Several days went into reorganizing my studio and surveying the paper and supplies that were on hand. I found lots of lost or forgotten watercolor and drawing paper, ink, and art implements. There was even a pocket notebook that I’d lost in 2015! It had fallen down into a cardboard carton where I drop in scraps of mat board.
I’m lucky in that being at home to make artwork suits me. While I like making drawings or watercolors in a likely outdoor spot, and miss the freedom of travel, I usually work from photographs in my studio anyway. Always, I have far more photos earmarked for art projects than I can get to. The first new pieces I finished were projects I already had in some stage of progress. Then, I started pieces from other photos or sketches that I’ve had in mind for a long time. Sometimes it takes several years to figure out to start a particular picture, or get around some problem in the composition, or some technical aspect of the work.
Concentrating on the pictures I’ve long planned to do gives me a sense of control, as well as continuity with my former “normal life” and the brighter future we’ll have as we emerge from this pandemic.
Just the same, I have started a new series of works based on sights seen during my morning and afternoon walks around my neighborhood. There are stately pine or oak trees silhouetted against the rising sun. Bluebirds perch on fences or telephone wires gilded with the golden light of dawn. The rabbit who lives in our yard nibbles on the cool dew-moistened grass. If William Blake could see the world in a grain of sand, I certainly can see the world in the space of several city blocks.
Bradley Carter – Painter (June 22, 2020)
I have struggled and contemplated over writing this. I have lost count on how many versions I have written, but tomorrow will always be the same if we don’t change today.
Covid-19 has pulled the emergency brake on the year of 2020, and as the smell of rubber and smoke start to clear we are trying to find out what life is going to be like going forward and how soon we can be “normal”. So far, our best hope feels like leaving it in neutral and coasting forward until we understand more. But regardless of how fast or slow we move it will continue to be a difficult time for all of us this year. We need to stay united, support each other and our community as we overcome this unprecedented challenge that affects us all.
As a full-time artist, it has been a difficult couple of months for me to stay focused, passionate, and be inspired to create something that I hope is honest and beautiful. You would think, it would be open season on creating with no reasons to leave the studio. For me it has been difficult between the unknown of the disease and craziness of Covid-19, to the financial impacts for not just my profession but our shared community. It makes you continue to pump the brakes. Also, the personal aspect of mental fatigue and health have been a big stumbling block for me as I pride myself on passion and emotion playing a big part in my Abstract Expressionism; creating paintings fueled by my emotion, inspiration, and feelings. But it’s a double-edged sword. One could say that the same emotions can fight you every day and hold you at bay from doing what you love. But I’m starting to see moments again, inspiration in the world, and a purpose to create. I hope others are also.
The break in painting has allowed me a fresh perspective to my approach and the meaning behind what I create. I am starting to get the “kid on Christmas feeling” about what is coming, and I can’t wait to see how it all translates to the canvas. I am trying to integrate different styles and mediums, allowing current series to evolve, and finding the passion to push paintings in new directions. Sometimes, it is the vulnerability to our surroundings that allows us new perspectives and the chance to grow. Much Love and cover your walls in Moments and Dreams!
Liz Hosier – Painter (June 24, 2020)
As weeks have turned into months and drawn all of us into the new COVID-19 “normal”, I find myself thinking back to the beginning of the “stay at home” order and the concerns expressed for our safety that seemed to increase almost daily. Things changed so dramatically and abruptly; it was disturbing. But just as quickly, the feelings of panic and frustration that all of us felt initially slowly morphed into a quieter, less frantic, and more reflective life in the Hosier household.
My husband, Paul and I are avid travelers, but serious yard work and home “fixit” projects—all long overdue—replaced our immediate travel plans once the epidemic began to spread. We both enjoy cooking, but in recent years we had subsisted on simple, quick meals, dining in restaurants, or eating whatever we could find in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Now, a major part of our new “normal” revolves around meal planning, grocery shopping (our big outings) and cooking, grilling, and baking. Once again, we enthusiastically experiment with new recipes, new foods, and new cooking techniques.
Although we miss the company of our friends and family, we have learned how to join them virtually or from a safe social distance (no hugs and kisses!); Zoom and Facetime are now as familiar as Facebook, instant messaging and email. I engage in church activities and services through Zoom and YouTube. Today, my life is less complicated and less hurried. I have accepted this situation and use my new-found time for reflection on my life; I seek out and appreciate many little pleasures I once spurned.
I feel fortunate to be an artist and, upon reflection, especially during this time. I hear others talking about feeling isolated and of their frustration with staying home, but these are not my thoughts. As artists, we sometimes crave isolation and relish time away from people and everyday events to focus on and nurture our artistic soul. COVID-19 has imposed on me an isolation that I personally cherish. My life, at least temporarily, is decluttered; I have more time to nurture my creative spirit. With every cancelled show or reception (and I do miss them terribly), I seize the opportunity to experiment with a new technique or medium and personal time when I am not focused of creating a particular piece or body of work. Currently I am exploring papier mâché incorporating it with encaustics. I take time to read art books and articles; watch videos exploring art techniques new to me; and review the artwork of others online. It has been a good time for my art!
I have played “musical studio spaces” during the past several months. When ACME Art Studios closed their doors temporarily and I could not go to my studio, I had to create a new one in my home. I took over part of the garage (husband says a “large part). Once I set up for work, I thoroughly enjoyed painting during many spring days with the garage doors thrown open allowing a gentle, refreshing wind on my face and my art work or experiencing a rumbling thunderstorm snug in a warm protected spot. I realize that I may never have this opportunity again. Right now, I am spending time in my other studio in Weaverville (near Asheville) where I grew up. Because I can’t have every art supply in each studio, I try to focus on a particular medium in each studio. One of the many joys in Weaverville is that a great art supply store is just a few miles away. They know me by name there!
As the pandemic continues, I occasionally find that I am fatigued by the separation from family and friends. I long to hug my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. I dream about the trip to Italy we were planning to take this summer. I miss being at ACME Art Studios with all its artistic vibes and miss the other artists with studios there. I miss Fourth Fridays and the crowds of art lovers who wander through Wilmington’s downtown galleries. I miss the students in my art classes at Cameron Art Museum. But, most importantly, I remember how very blessed I am. All it takes to pull me out of the doldrums is to step into my studio and rummage around my art “stuff.” This simple act transforms me. I know this “stay at home” situation will not last forever. But for now, I plan to enjoy today for all it brings to me.