The first thing I must bring up about Don Estes and his studio is how incredibly amazing his studio and living space and how I think every single person in our class was drooling over the building. I think it is important, however to keep in mind that just because you have the most amazing studio ever, doesn’t mean you are going to create good work on a regular basis. Estes seems to keep up a regular gallery practice, and utilizes the capabilities of his space well.
I really enjoyed Estes’ paintings, I looked at his website before we visited his studio and I really prefer the new work he has been developing. I responded to the color palettes and the handling of paint, and I like his thought process behind the subject matter. The idea of land and nature being forcefully divided by man is an interesting one. I also think I like his work because I can compare my own to it in some ways. I also appreciate what great craftsmanship he practices, he thinks about the small details of presentation like angling the support and keeping panel behind the canvas so it won’t sag.
This was a helpful visit in terms of realizing that life might take you away from practicing art for a time, but that it isn’t always a horrible thing, other jobs are sometimes necessary. Estes shared how he started a metalworking company, which supported him financially. It is good to consider what other skills we as artists have besides just making works of art. I think many young artists harbor dreams of being wildly successful artists living like bohemians, but Estes showed us one version of a more practical way of living, while still living “the dream” in that studio of his.