Saturday, October 6, 2018

Studio Visit: Jeff Schaller, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Edited by Paula Fava

Jeff Schaller's studio is bankedbuilt into the side of a hillso that there is a ground-floor entrance on two levels

Jeff Schaller bought his family home 14 years ago knowing he wanted to build a studio on the property. A year later he began to think about its location. “My idea of where the studio would go was not possible since it was not actually part of our lot. That ended up being a blessing in disguise. After speaking with many builders and architects, I went with a bank barn building  and I love it!"

Raising capital to raise the beams

“I came up with a unique way to raise capital for my studio so I didn’t have to take out loans or come up with all the funds up front. I sent out 40 letters to my best collectors and asked them if they’d like to pre-buy a painting for the year and help me build my studio. This was all done before crowd sourcing and KickStarter. I raised $70,000, sold a lot of paintings, had a bunch of support, and then held a great party once it was all finished."

Studio panorama
Below: View with a back-facing window

Art, creation and comfort

Like many successful artists, Jeff has brought home and studio into close proximity. “I love that my studio is 100 yards from the house. I designed the studio with a place to paint, a place to work on the computer and a place to entertain clients. Downstairs there is storage, a place to print, a bathroom and a guest room. My intention was to have artists stay over so that I would be able to do collaborations with those artists.  However, it now is mainly a place where mom stays when she comes to visit. If I were to do it over again, I’d build the same studio but on a Caribbean island. 
“In winter, I tend to wake up, make coffee, go to the studio, turn on the auxiliary heat, then come back to the house and finish my coffee and check emails on the laptop. During warmer months, I bring the coffee down and check emails. Depending on my project, I’ll 'turn my paints on' and get them heated up or prepare the paintings for the day. Working with encaustics has a lot of variables and a lot depends on how warm the studio is.  


Jeff's array of 'turned on' paint

“I just love to paint. If I’m doing encaustic, the blow torch is my best friend. Painting with acrylics allows me to use bigger brushes and embrace the strokes or use smaller brushes and embrace the confidence. I get the greatest satisfaction when I turn off the studio lights after a day of painting and then arrive the next morning to see a piece that I don’t have to add anything to but a signature. That is the day I yearn for. That’s what keeps me looking forward to each morning.”      

               Wait, there's more: The downstairs storage area    


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