Looking out to the deck

View from inside looking out to the deck

Hi! Come on in and let me show you around my new studio. The concept for the studio began in 2000 when I bought my cottage, a 1940s duplex. I planned to use the front unit as my home and the rear unit as my studio while still working at my “day job.” When the time came that I could leave to paint full time, I planned to rent out the back apartment for extra income and convert the 400 square foot garage to my studio.

The rear unit studio was wonderful and I spent many happy hours painting and teaching there. But the new studio is even better! Even though it’s near my house, it’s completely separate so the distractions of laundry, dishes and computer; the nagging of cats for dinner; email and phone calls disappear and painting time flows uninterrupted.

Before the tour, here are “before” pictures of its former life as a grease-monkey garage where my son worked on cars.

The 1970 Firebird Cody was restoring in my garage

The garage before it was transformed and the 1970 Firebird Cody was (still is) restoring

The bare garage walls had 40 years of grease and grime and Bondo dust and the concrete floor was badly stained and cracked. The only electricity came in from an extension cord.

Huge Chevy engine and garage full of tools (and grease)

Huge engine under construction

Backyard before door and deck

Backyard before door and deck

The only entrance was the heavy and awkward sliding barn doors on the driveway side of the garage. Now I’ve transformed the old garage from a place for pursuing a passion for pistons to a passion for paint.

Deck and door to studio

Deck and door to studio

I added the doors and deck (though the contractor’s mistakes led to it not being a two-steps up raised deck as planned–but it is level unlike how it seems in the photo). The high-maintenance funky grass is gone, replaced by gold fines which makes it feel like a beach. Now it’s a great place to set up a still life and paint outdoors and I love eating lunch and reading out here too.

Here is a 6 minute video tour, and below that, pictures with more detail.

In the video and photos below, you can see that I love good art tools. I have collected this studio equipment and supplies over many years of painting. Much of it I bought secondhand or long ago. 

Watercolor area, to the right of the door

Drawing and Watercolor area, to the right of the door

Ancient drafting table, chair,  taboret holding paints and supplies, Combo lamps (great lighting for watercolor), flat files for storing completed watercolor paintings and drawings. A board with a foam pad on top of the flat files makes it a cozy spot for reading or for use as a model stand.

Watercolor table,  still life stand and easel

Watercolor table, still life stand and easel

Light stand,  adjustable “over bed” table for holding still life setups, foam core homemade shadow box, iPad and nifty iPad stand for displaying photos to paint from, taboret with Watercolor palette, and Sorg easel (my Christmas present to myself—literally: it was on sale for half of Jerry’s usual $700 price on Christmas and I couldn’t resist this extravagant but wonderful gift.)

Oil painting area

Oil painting area

On the old microwave cart is my oil painting palette: a tabletop easel holding a sheet of glass at an angle (which I learned from Rose Frantzen; it’s good ergonomically but frustrating when the paints slide down), with a piece of gray paper beneath it. The mirror is for looking at a painting backwards which is a great way to find mistakes. I stand when I paint on this thick Anti-Fatigue mat which helps my cranky back. The Daylight Studio Lamp above is ok but I like the one in the previous picture better. (Photo taken before I got the secondhand bookcase in the next picture.)

Easel, still life shelf, double flat file/standing workstation

Easel, still life shelf, double flat file/standing workstation

On the ceiling between the beams you can see the foil reflective-backed insulation. Hanging from the ceiling are 8 sets of 2-bulb fluorescent light fixtures with daylight (5000K) bulbs.  I also use 5000K bulbs in my light stands so that my palette and painting subject are lit the same.

That’s an Ikea Billy bookcase with glass doors (Craigslist find; cheap and already assembled). I bought the flat files secondhand years ago and they were a bit rusty. The white spots are where I painted over the rust. The tabletop is just a sheet of melamine board and makes a handy standing work station.

Rolling Blockbuster DVD rack, file cabinet, rolling industrial wire shelving

Rolling Blockbuster DVD rack, file cabinet, rolling industrial wire shelving

When my local Blockbuster Video went out of business I bought this large rolling DVD rack for $10. It’s great for displaying art or holding paintings that are drying. To it’s right is a secondhand file cabinet and to its right: two large industrial wire shelving units on wheels. Behind them are the folded tables I set up for watercolor classes.

Behind the rolling rack: canvas and panel cabinet

Behind the rolling rack: canvas and panel cabinet

You roll the DVD rack out of the way to access the wooden storage unit my neighbor built for me that stores blank and painted canvas and panels.

Screen and former garage doors with stereo

Screen and former garage doors with stereo

The Ikea screen hides messy stuff. The tall chair is where I perch to look at a painting on the easel to see what it needs. The garage door on the left still opens, the one on the right is sealed and has a narrow shelf for paintings. These paintings are part of a series in progress of people at work. The old stereo and TV are great for listening to audio books or painting DVDs.

Cabinets, sink and me in the mirror

Cabinets, sink and me in the mirror

The homemade (and homely) cabinet on the left holds my journals, the little red basket is for carrying stuff to and from the house/studio. The black cabinet was free from a neighbor and holds tea, cups, reference books and a microwave on top. I repurposed the mirror  from a former workout space.

Floor plan with furniture and equipment to scale

Floor plan, furniture & equipment to scale

As you can see in the floor plan above that my Interior Designer sister Marcy Voyevod made (after measuring everything and making little cut-outs of the furniture and gear to move around and fit), there is space in the center of the room for tables for up to 10 students when I return to teaching watercolor, sketching and journal binding.  The tables are folded and stored behind the wire industrial shelving units.

View from door looking in

View from deck door looking in

The concrete floor was badly cracked, stained and occasionally damp. I researched every possible method of dealing with concrete floors and found no good solution. Then I spent some time on the Garage Journal forum (where I felt quite out of place!) and learned about RaceDeck flooring. It’s as easy as putting together Legos to install, and “floats” above the concrete. The channels on the bottom of each tile mean moisture is not a problem and no preparation other than sweeping is required. The teenage boy next door and I laid the 400 square foot floor in one afternoon.

Phew! Putting together this post was almost as much work as doing the remodeling! I hope you find it useful and that it’s not too much information. I tried to edit it down but it’s still really long.

Category:
Art supplies, Interiors, Photos, Studio
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Join the conversation! 25 Comments

  1. What a fun tour. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Signed
    Studio Envy

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  2. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting..You are so well-organised!
    I envy you this beautiful space!

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    • I do like things organized and having a place for everything and I’m thrilled to be able to get in there and make a mess now that I’ve posted the tidy photos! Jana

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  3. Wow…that was a great tour of your new studio! Nice job with the remodeling.

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    • Thanks. I owe a lot to my sister who helped me sort out the space planning. The remodel was a lot of work and took a long time. I’m really happy to be done dealing with contractors! Jana

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  4. Gorgeous studio, Jana! Congratulations!

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  5. Wonderful Jana! And very inspiring! Thank you for sharing this with us…now we can imagine you working in your space.
    Hoping fervently that I can some day take one of your watercolor / journal binding classes and see it in person!

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  6. Beautiful studio. I might have to start a plan – you have inspired me. Jana

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    • Hi Jana, Glad to have inspired you! It was a lot of work and money but totally worth it! It’s so great being away from all the distractions in the house. Time just disappears and it’s all about painting. Even though the house is just down the driveway it feels like it’s far away and I’m in art world. Come for a visit and see it in person next time you’re in town. Jana

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  7. Thank you for the wonderful tour of you new art studio. It is well thought out and organized. I especially like the spaciousness and the light. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

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  8. Did the Sorg Easel spark the refit?

    Great space Jana and lots of useful tips for people about to repurpose and renocate which I shall be sure to highlight to people on my blog next Sunday in “who’s made a mark this week?”

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    • Thanks for the good question Katherine! Actually I saw the Sorg easel on Susan Abbott’s blog in December and realized it would solve some ergonomic problems I was having (the ease of moving a canvas up and down means always having it at the right level for most comfortable working) and could fit in my new studio. I updated the post to include the answer as to the reason for the remodel:

      “The concept for the studio began in 2000 when I bought my cottage, a 1940s duplex. I planned to use the front unit as my home and the rear unit as my studio while still working at my “day job.” When the time came that I could leave to paint full time, I planned to rent out the back apartment for extra income and convert the 400 square foot garage to my studio. The rear unit studio was wonderful and I spent many happy hours painting and teaching there. But the new studio is even better! Even though it’s near my house, it’s completely separate so the distractions of laundry, dishes and computer; the nagging of cats for dinner; email and phone calls disappear and painting time flows uninterrupted.”

      Jana

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  9. My husband and I are going to re-design my art studio this year and this gives me lots of ideas! Thank you for sharing :0)

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  10. Beautiful space and most enviable. Enjoy it!

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  11. Jealous, green, envious – that’s what I am thinking. Now going to bed & sulk :(

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  12. What a treat to get a look into your beautiful new studio space!!! Wishing you years of enjoyment, and looking forward to years of artwork to be posted!!!

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  13. I love, love, love the flat file with the cushions on top! I have been wanting both a flat file and a comfy sitting area and knew I can’t fit both in – that’s a great solution.

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  14. Thanks for sharing this! Like many, I’ve always wanted to have a studio, and you’ve incorporated some great ideas!

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  15. hey sis, this is so cool. i hope you are enjoying it. thanks for mentioning me. i love helping you with all you space planning/decorating needs. you’re so reasonable about my ideas. xoxoxm

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  16. I have found my dream art studio! Oh wait, it’s yours! :-) Congratulations, it’s beautiful and from the looks of it, totally functional. Thank you for sharing because now I can refer back at some of the gems you have posted here. I appreciate that you have both watercolor/drawing *and* oil stations… Thanks again!

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