Artist in Residence: Lyon’s share
This illustrator’s custom-designed studio features a robotic easel that’s capable of holding up to 16 paintings at a time!
Another jaw-dropping art studio, another vivid daydream pretending that it’s mine…
I was lucky enough to build my studio with some specific features in mind. I wanted enough space to be able to work on several projects at once, teach workshops and host other artists. I also wanted the consistency of north light and space that was comfortable. After all, I spend most of my waking hours in my studio! I also needed space to display work ready to ship, or for clients who stop by the studio.
Each week I have a portrait night, when up to 12 other artists bring their supplies and we paint together. My wife, Shari, and niece are also artists and share the studio space with me.
It’s easy for artists to become hermits, so I wanted a space that my family and friends could spend time with me. It isn’t unusual for my kids to do their homework, play games or just hang out in the studio while I work.
I’ve run speaker wire to the corners of the studio so that I can have music fill the entire space. It’s one of my favourite and most important features of my workspace.
My easel is on the east wall. It’s the studio’s centrepiece and where I spend the most time working. I created a rough design, and then my father used this to make a new type of easel that can lift and hold either a 20-foot wide canvas or 16 smaller works at once. It’s powered by an electric motor and controlled by a remote. Paintings can move side to side and up and down.
I have a large, beautiful book case for my favourite art books and some treasures from around the world. On the south wall I have gallery hangers for displaying works to be shipped out or that are for sale, and space to store extra easels and equipment.
The north wall has a six-foot window that lets in a substantial light and an alcove/entrance that serves as the working space for Shari. The west wall is the digital space where I do all my computer work.
My favourite spot in the studio is the space in front of the window where you can usually find my dog, Max, sleeping or looking out the window. I like to sit in the chairs there and read or sketch, and view the mountains and clouds outside. Howard’s been an art director, concept artist and illustrator. See more of his fantasy and sci-fi art at www.howardlyon.com.
On the south wall I have gallery hangers for displaying works to be shipped out or that are for sale
I like to have several paintings on the go at the same time and also use my easel space to enable paintings to dry or wait for varnishing. I like to display my reference using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. A gooseneck floor stand enables me get it in the perfect position for my reference. The Return of Flora is an allegory about the abandonment and of beauty in high art through the 10th century, but optimism about its return. Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, is up at dawn, preparing for the celebration ahead.
This is my shipping station. When orders come in for prints or paintings I can package them up here.
I like to have a wall for displaying works for clients who want to visit the studio. It’s good to live with your work for a bit, too.
Every spring I find myself wanting to paint flowers in my compositions, to reflect the changing of the seasons.
I’ll often build models for my paintings. In this case, a first-century wooden boat. This enables me to shoot excellent reference of something that would otherwise be extremely hard to get hold of.