Sunday, March 8, 2009

ISBP installment no. 18: Rebecca Crowell

Rebecca Crowell gives a glimpse, inside and out, of her rural Wisconsin studio, as well as her work, which was inspired by her residency in Catalonia. See more on her website and blog.

Rebecca writes:
My studio is in a separate building behind the house, on 40 acres in west-central Wisconsin, a beautiful natural setting. I like the fact that I have to leave the house to go to the studio, as it always feels like moving into a different world. The building is a simple metal outbuilding with a foot of insulation in the walls, and part of the south-facing wall is made of cinder block to provide some solar gain. It is a large, utilitarian space that I have occupied for over 20 years, and inside it's quite messy and chaotic, with paint on the floors, walls, and other surfaces, and piles of stuff that are far from neat or organized.

In my house I keep reasonable order and cleanliness, so I sometimes wonder why the studio mess doesn't bother me. But being neat is not what comes naturally, and I guess for me it is a matter of where to put my energy. Nothing about the studio space is pristine or precious, which allows me to relax and focus on the work and feel free to muck around. And I rather enjoy the studio clutter--the accumulated stuff, piles of old paintings, sketchbooks, art books, journals, tools, materials, rocks and shells, and forgotten, half-finished work. The whole place feels intensely mine, full of my personal history, my art history--yet not in an oppressive way, it's just there in the background when I paint.

In the photo is the large wall on which I do most of my oil painting, hanging the panels up with push pins or small nails. There are always a lot of panels in various states of completion leaning around. I also have another wall that is cleaner, where I can view finished pieces with less visual distraction. My painting table is elevated to a comfortable height so I don't have to bend over it--a great relief for my back--and I have a couch by the wood stove, a table and counter area for doing mixed media work, and an air-to air heat exchanger for ventilation. About a year ago I got some excellent daylight fixtures, and there are high, north windows too. So it is a very functional space. Just outside my door is a rock garden set into a steep bank (the studio is at the bottom of a small hill, accessed by stairs) and that is a beautiful, secluded spot to sit in warmer weather.

Remembering Catalunya
74 x 30 oil on board