Skip to main content

My Studios: Part II

Not actually my studio in Reading, England, but
pretty close to the one I talk about
Reading, England

When I returned to England and completed my MA, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to painting in a a converted bedroom, so I obtained a studio in the town where I lived, about 40 miles west of London. It was in another small industrial space, near the River Kennet. Like many buildings in Reading, it was constructed from solid red Victorian brick, and it had windows running the length of each room. I was on the second floor, in a long room about 25 feet long, with whitewashed stone walls and half-moon windows on two sides. 
I rented this space from about October 1994 to July 1995, when I moved to London. I moved in all the canvases and materials that had been shipped back from Spain, and spent the winter and spring continuing with the large, Anselm Kiefer-like impasto semi-abstract landscapes that I had begun during the MA. The space was unheated, but the weather is never that cold in England, so even on the coldest days I could manage a few hours in there by wrapping up warm and painting in fingerless gloves. The weird thing about the place was that across the corridor, a room identical in shape to mine was used as a gym by these big, beastular guys who walked and talked like cockney mobsters in recent films of that ilk. That’s not quite a joke: curious about why they worked out so much in the middle of a weekday, I asked them once what they did for a living, and they only cackled and said: ‘A bit of this, a bit of that. Import and export, that sort of thing.’ I had a couple of joking conversations with them, in which we talked about swapping spaces for a while, so that they could try and paint and I could try and bench press 500 pounds with just one hand.
It was good to have a space outside my home, but I was very much on my own, and I missed the communality of the studio in Barcelona. I regained that to some extent in my next studio, when I moved to London.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader


Popular posts from this blog

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.

A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…