Until recently, I never considered the impact of my studio space on the art I make. I didn’t have too. I had a big space, with easy access, in a building that housed a lot of other artists. Unfortunately, progress stops for no one and, eventually the time came when I had to leave that that big open studio space behind so it could became a few, smaller, fancier, more expensive apartments.

With that space gone, I took another space in the building. It could only be accessed by a tight stairwell that restricted the size of work I could do, and it was a bit more expensive but, it was big, open, and I didn’t have to leave the building of artists behind so I jumped right in and continued working.

Unfortunately, that space was a little rough, and the price kept creeping up so, late last year it was time to leave that studio behind to look for greener (less expensive) pastures. That search took me through four studios in the last year or so and, as a result my work really started to suffer. I started to understand the importance of having a good space to work in and saw the impact of different situations in the paintings that I was doing. During this period of studio chaos, one painting came along for the ride and saw the effects of all 4 spaces. It started out in a space that I was settled and comfortable. With good light and lots of space. It moved with me into a dark, dirty, cold basement studio that I just could not convince myself to visit during the warm summer days. It followed me when I fled to the outskirts of town to work in a little garage and it finally settled into a tiny spare room in my new house with me. It started big and bold and loosely painted, it took on strange colors when I worked in bad light and it became more realistic when the space was too cramped to step back.

Somehow, the painting ended up looking pretty good. It is definitely a little different from similar pieces I have done in the past but, I am betting that a lot of you might think it is a step forward.

Normally this is the part of the post where I would reveal the final piece but, in this case, it will be heading out to a show and they have asked me to keep it under wraps for now… but I just can’t resist giving a little teaser.

And I Realize That Most of My Wounds Are Self Inflicted

If you want to see it go through a lot of changes, some strange color choices, and a bunch of different studios check out my instagram page where I have posted some progress shots of the piece over the last few months.

For now, there is a happy ending to this story, I am settled in to the tiny little spare room studio in my new house, taking the opportunity to work on some smaller pieces while I try to figure out, what makes a good studio and, where can I find or build one in this city.

Portrait of Jessica

3 thoughts on “The Impact of the Studio Space on Art.”

  1. Hi Nick, I too am a painter who about a year ago moved a long distance from where I had painted for 8 years. I finally found studio space where I now live that I thought would work for me. It is half the size of my 660 sq. ft. space with east coming in through courtyard windows instead of north light through very large windows. I was so intimidated by the space that I decided to only work on small canvases – no larger then 20 x 20″ and mostly 12 x 12″. Before the move I had started putting line and oil washes into my work. Well, after the move I just couldn’t get back into the line without making things so tight that I painted them out the next day. I have finally had a breakthrough – no line or oil washes, but back to brushier work and have just gessoed larger canvases to go to work on! Good luck with the journey. That is really what it is.

    1. Nick Ward says:

      I didn’t realize you had left your studio at Fountain Street, I remember seeing your work there during Open Studios a couple years back. I can definitely see how moving to a smaller space would effect the type of painting you are making, those pieces seem like the type that need a lot of stepping waaay back across the room to get right. Glad to hear you found a nice solution!

      My own personal solution is to just get myself another large studio. Working on smaller pieces has definitely been helpful but, I am just itching to take what I have learned (more like re-learned) and apply it to the large pieces again.

      I am going to have to struggle in a tiny spare bedroom for the winter, then I have grand plans to build a workshop/studio building in my yard. Some quick math revealed that, now that I have the space, building my own new studio is very similar in cost to paying a years rent on a space in this crazy city.

      Good luck with your new work and keep in touch!

      1. Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, my husband and I made the big “retirement move” out to Pittsfield, MA. All my idea. Better then moving to Florida full time.

        You would think it would be easier to find studio space in a building with other artists out here. To my surprise, unless I wanted to travel up to North Adams which is 30-40 minutes away from where I live, and I’ve already done that for 8 years, the buildings that housed artists had very small spaces and no openings. So I went on a search and found an office building willing to take me in. The space is 320 square feet and square, which is a good thing. I’ve had extra lighting put in but it isn’t quite the same as the fabulous north light I had at Fountain Street. I also miss “my peeps”, as I have grown to call them. Fountain Street, although a scrungy building had a wonderful kind of energy emitting from behind all the closed doors.

        I still can move way back, just not as far, to see the work but somehow I wasn’t doing that. Have just started so we will see where it goes. Rents out here are pretty cheap. The nice thing about the new space is it is right din downtown Pittsfield and only 7 minutes from my house. I can hop down for an hour or two and not have to have it be for the whole day.

        Wishing you good luck with your building efforts and incorporating what you’ve learned working in a smaller space on smaller pieces into the “geshtadlt” of your new work.

        BTW, keep an eye out on for new uploads to my website. Probably before Christmas.


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