Friday, September 7, 2012

Studio Visit: Sharon Butler and Patricia Satterlee

On September 8th and 9th painter Sharon Butler (studio at 117 Grattan Street) along with 1,700 other artists is participating in GO: a community curated open studio project in Brooklyn.  Go... and check it out.

Last week I visited Sharon Butler, artist, professor, mother, wife, and blogger of Two Coats of Paint... with my friend and fellow Rockland painter Gretchen Kane.  Here are a few things I learned about Sharon...

She received a BFA from Mass Art in Boston and an MFA from University of Connecticut.  Before Sharon was a painter she was a graphic designer.  She teaches graphic arts at a Eastern Connecticut State University.  Sharon lives in the Upper West Side, has a studio in Bushwick Brooklyn, and spends her winters in Washington DC.  She trades her artwork with other artists.  Welcomes criticism of her art.  And this summer she started painting from life while teaching a summer class in DC.  What I like most about Sharon, beyond her blog and simplified geometric abstractions, is her modesty and friendliness.  She has no ego, is a careful listener, and is happy to share any of her art knowledge.

As for Sharon's art she showed us paintings intended for an exhibition in Connecticut.  Most were loosely stretched over wooden frames, which is the way she was going to present them at the exhibition.  Some were pinned to the wall and a few small canvases were stretched over frames.  There seemed to be two distinct series of works.  Some were  barebones, minimal, and subtle.  Others appeared more process oriented, congested line work, working and re-working.  But both series were still thin with few layers, had much of the natural un-gessoed canvas showing, and had an unfinished look.  I  preferred the paintings that were minimal and stark with bold geometric abstraction.  Also, she mentioned that, at least in part, her inspiration for these paintings is the industrial buildings, apartments, and loft spaces in and around Bushwick.  Sharon mentioned the view from her studio in particular as a source of curiosity and interest.  You can see more of her work at


A work in progress... a wrinkled canvas with large bold
cutouts strewn across the floor of Sharon's studio.

Sharon unpinning a painted canvas to reveal another.

The following is a series of paintings from direct observation that Sharon created while teaching a painting class in Washington DC this summer.  The cheap and mass produced canvas panels she used was a deliberate decision that reflected the academic setting in which they were made.

Gretchen, Sharon, and I next visited Patricia  Satterlee's studio.  She does wonderful abstractions, minimal, composed carefully, and highly layered.  The most striking characteristic of her studio was how organized she keeps it.  I think that all artists should be very deliberate in their mediums of choice and archivabilty and carefully consider how to store/preserve their work.  I also found the paint and surfaces she paints on to be very interesting. Flashe paint on self-made wooden panels are her materials of choice.  Flashe paint apparently has a slight chalky/gritty feel to it, is water based, and it absorbed into the surface making it permanent almost instantly.  The medium allows Patricia to create layer upon layer and then sand them down to achieve a wonderful pixelated effect.  Also, I should add that she layers her paint not according to strategy but according to authenticity... in other words, each of those layers was byproduct of her search for composition, not layering for the sake of getting a cool look when sanded.

Patricia's new paintings are a departure form her older works.  She felt as though her previous series took too long to create and each piece had no definite point at which to end her investigation of composition... They could and did go on forever and she only stopped after she felt her progress began detracting from the paintings.  When I spoke to her about the meaning of her art or what it means to her, it was hard to follow her.  Patricia's language she uses to explain her paintings comes from a profound place that seems to weave together eastern thought, psychology, and physics... The role of time especially seems to play a central role in her artist statement.  Also I appreciate that Patricia explores a variety of styles, which many galleries apparently get annoyed with (boo hoo).  In particular a group of small works made from collaging old exhibition postcards i thought was a clever idea to transform old material into new possibilities.  You can see more of her work at


Taking a look at her past work

A large drawing being stored from on the wall with glassine over top

Paintings in the process of being sanded

Made from old exhibition postcards
A container of gloves


  1. Thanks for posting about two very different and very great artists. The care and thought they both put into their painting are inspirational. Both seemed devoted to process and craft, but the end results are fresh and exciting.

  2. Lovely post, insightful--thanks for posting!