Making a Studio Space

Over the 4th of July weekend 2020, I finally did it! I made room for my home painting studio. It was actually more of a process than just making room, and the physical space was the final physical manifestation of a long internal dialogue about self investment. So, while I will show you pictures here of the studio space, it was really the internal journey which made the outer space take shape. You see, I never really intended to become a painter.

Although I was a student of Graphic Design in school, I ended up with a Fine Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration in Graphic Design, due to circumstances beyond my control. My senior show in college comprised entirely of paintings. Shortly after, I launched my career in graphic design at a great local company called ABI Digital Solutions aka Digital Performance Gear. There I met many great people and after a while I showed a friend there my paintings. Encouraged by their reaction, I decided it was time to start painting again. That was almost a year ago today. I went to Michael’s and bought the largest canvas I had ever worked on. On that canvas I painted this portrait painting, which now hangs in a prominent place in my home. It is titled in Italian, Il Calore di un’Abbraccio, and marked an important new beginning for me.

Painting at home is not like painting in a dedicated studio in college. It is messier and feels more vulnerable with kids and spouses observing and commenting, and being in the way of family life. After completing this painting in my dining room and making more than a bit of a mess, I decided I wanted to invest in some raw canvas and stretcher bars and start stretching my own canvases. It was not an easy move, and it took a few months hunt down the right supplies at the best prices and give myself permission to make purchases and take the leap of faith. I felt self-indulgent and and am not used to spending money on things that could be construed as frivolous. In the mean time, in mid June, I got furloughed from work because of the Corona virus exactly on my two year work anniversary. I knew it was likely, as my company serves the school systems for band performance gear, and school districts around the US were shutting down. By 4th of July weekend I was clearing out what had become a storage room, to make space for something I wanted- a place to paint. I got to work using old finds to put the space together, making simple curtains from my stash of fabrics, hanging pictures…

A teak bench completes the space because sometimes you just need to sit back and look at your work before deciding what to do next. The rolling chair is a vintage find which- under the red patterned cover I made for it- is 70’s bright orange . I know curtains may not be the most practical solution for the window, but sometimes beauty comes before practicality. You will also notice that I have no easel in my studio. I thought about this for a while, but leaning my canvas against the wall works very well for me. At first I would prop it on the box from my stretcher bars, but have since moved a low bench into its place. This is also practical because I often flip my canvas sideways or upside down, or onto the floor when I am working, and this would be harder with it clamped onto an easel. These days I have a large sheet of vinyl which hangs from the wall behind my work area and drapes across the floor where I stand. I can certainly make a mess!

Although the room is small, it is bright, comfortable and functional. I have hung three charcoal on paper self portrait drawings that I did above my workspace in the black frames. For my paint cart I repurposed an old school audio/visual cart from the local school department auction. My palette is a piece of tempered glass given to me by a kind professor in college. Although I have a small collection of brushes, I almost exclusively paint with painting knives, or your average paint scrapers from the hardware store, sometimes with old gift cards, too.

Here I am celebrating my fourth of July accomplishment with a frozen strawberry and wine smoothie. Well, I hope this might inspire you to set up YOUR own space for something you love. You deserve it too. Feel free to ask any questions or make comments below. Thank you!

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