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      I have been trying to find a studio I could rent out in my area in Northern Virginia, and I really can't find anything unless its a shared space. I had my home studio setup in my apartment, but I recently got married and I just can't really work at home anymore. Not only is my apartment small, but my wife constantly interrupts me with questions, or comes in and looks at my work in progress which is really annoying. Now I know why so many artists left their wives to go to the South of France to paint till their time ran out :)

Even if I did have the space, I need a good place to meet with clients and to work with models... wife walking in and finding a nude model on our living room coach is not how you want to start a marriage...try to explain that one to a person who doesn't understand art or artists! :D

Anyone out there going through or have went through the same ordeal? anyone have any suggestions? I even thought about renting office space but I don't think you can paint there... anything really big I can't afford either...looking to spend $300 to $500 in a 300sf space. I even thought of renting storage room and painting in there... don't need north light, I have studio lights I use... any suggestions or ideas? I sold a few paintings and got a few commissions, but I still work day job full time...looking to produce 10 solid portraits in the next year before I start marketing and trying to paint full time living off commissions (the dream). Suggestions please :)

Mark Alexander 

PS. my production is like one painting a month at the moment trying to squeeze in time between work and when my wife isn't home...


  • Mark

    How about hiring or leasing a garage, maybe a caravan, renting an adjacent apartment, perhaps a shipping container?


  • Denis, 
       that is an interesting concept but I can't really afford another apartment. The apartments around here are going for $1600.00 a month, leasing a garage I haven't looked into and I couldn't really lease a caravan as I would have no place to store it...  I live in a building, and my 2 bedroom apt has very little space... not sure what to do. 
  • Mark

    The shipping containers, as seen in pic, without the furnishings, is $20k to buy or $133/w rent here in Australia.

    Perhaps you need to move and buy a house.

  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited August 2018
    You and your wife move in with the parents or Grandma and keep your apartment for a studio/office. Don't give your wife a key and learn when to turn off your phone. The preceding is in lieu of a long drawn out treatise on the necessity of long courtships, longer engagements and trial marriages. On the other hand I think finding a nude model with a basement might be an option.
  • Easy. Paint your wife. Do it like, "One Hundred Views of [insert name here]". That way, you can talk to her, or have her play dress up, or just capture her nude in 100 different poses. Whatever floats your boat.
  • I don't want the world to see my wife nude :D besides I need different look for each painting... I'm not sure how Hopper did it. But with all jokes aside, I really do need a private space to paint, meet with clients, and shoot with models... my small apartment just can't work... and I also hate having to clean up everything after a session which takes up a lot of time...and the setting up isn't any better either... I want a place where I can just go and everythings ready for me to get started... I looked into studio apartments but they are so pricey... I don't need that much space either... any ideas?
  • dencaldencal -
    edited August 2018

    Have you any space for a box truck or a motor home?
    What about painting miniatures? From photographs?
    Join an Art group and negotiate to share a studio with several artists.
    Check the classified ads in your local paper for unfurnished room rental.

  • Denis,

           I did find  a space that is shared with 5 other artists for $200.00/month which is great for my budget, but to be honest I just want my own private space... I don't know how you feel, but I really do not like anyone looking at me while I paint... and I don't have room for a box truck or motor home... i'll try looking up unfurnished room rentals, thanks.

    All I want is a private studio... I thought about renting out office space, but I dont' think they allow painting in their least not in my area.

  • Can you not hire a parking space from an apartment owner that has a space, but no car, and then buy a cheap van/motor home to turn into a small studio?
  • Something we have in abundance of in Texas is industrial complexes. Several businesses with garage-size warehouses with a small office and restroom usually 300 to 3000 sft. they can be cheap or expensive and you could have noisy neighbors but better than a storage unit. Why couldn't you paint in a rented office?
  • Mark

    Less expensive to rent a garage. Many elderly folk don’t / can’t drive now and have a garage sitting empty or full of junk. They would like the extra income. Advertise locally.

    I really enjoy going to art classes or sharing studio space. I learn so much about materials, equipment and techniques from the artists and models. Breaks the isolation, opens many opportunities, make new friends. When you’ve got Mark Carder in your toolkit other artists can only look with envy. 


  • @Markalex777
    I suspect that what you are facing isn't so much a question to artists as it is a question to yourself: what are you willing to give up and what must you absolutely have. These are questions we ask ourselves upon entering into a marriage or pursuing our art.

    You may want to create a decision tree or a list of pros and cons. After doing so, you may need to have a conversation with your wife, not demanding that she adjust to you, but determining where the two of you can find a middle ground. 

    Find the absolutes in your situation - 1) you are now married and share an apartment; 2) you wish to continue with your art; 3) you have limited resources both in money and time; 4) in  your geographic location most studios are shared.

    Given those parameters you will need to make some decisions about what you can do within them and accept that as a given. You may need to share a studio with others. You may need to clean up after every painting session. You may need to plan time with your wife. You may need to plan time with your art.

    I think you have a situation in which you will need to have a great deal of self-discipline to manage all the areas of your life which are important to you.

    From a completely practical standpoint if you live in an area of higher rent and high demand, like a city, you will likely need to get creative and look at warehouse, factory, or old office space. In our little rural town in southern Wisconsin, we have several artists who have found very old store fronts, old factories, or very cheap housing. Had they chosen to stay in Madison, they would not be able to afford their art studio spaces. 

    Hope you can navigate your way through your situation.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2018
    Mark Carder would be one to ask about the way to move forward with your future.  He has done and is doing it all successfully even with children.  Taking a class of his would put you in the right proximity to see how he does it and ask a few questions.  Some good advice in above posts as well.  Good luck.  :)
  • All the advice is wonderful! Thank you all. Back in NY where I am from there were many available spaces in old factories that have been converted to workable studios for artists. I had to move to NOVA for work, and like I stated recently married... The creating process at least for me requires great concentration. I try to work when she goes out with friends, but its practically waiting on her schedule... She is very understanding, but its just not the right place to be creative. I talked to one guy who was leasing office space, I think they are afraid for their carpets and stuff getting dirty from the paints... I'll look into the garage idea since I didn't think of that before...

    for now I only get 4 hours or so on the weeknds per week to paint, which is nothing... it takes me a month just to finish one painting... I have been sketching a lot just to jot down ideas and keep sharpening my drawing skills and just really to be creative which keeps me happy. I can go into depression if I don't paint... painting I always say saved my life. Only when I read books on the old masters, and the impressionists, their bio's etc do I feel like someone understands me in them. :) Thank you all :)

  • Share all of this with your new wife, new possibilites and answers will follow
  • I get why you and your wife wouldn't want her image out as a nude or commercial model (she'd have to pay union dues) kidding. but back in the heyday of pinups a publisher of calendars, Brown & Bigelow, hired many artists of the time (1930s1950s) to paint pin-ups (then often called "cheese cake"). Some of the models used are now quite famous but what's not widely known is that artists used the same model for many paintings and they all looked like different women. Once you have the form, perspective, proportions and values it's not difficult (it is but not too bad) to change the details enough to make your model a different person. I think at least for the short term, your best chance of having a viable studio is making it a joint effort with your wife.
  • Richard_P said:
    Can you not hire a parking space from an apartment owner that has a space, but no car, and then buy a cheap van/motor home to turn into a small studio?
    Most place in this area won't allow motorhomes or work trucks to be parked long term.  And storage spots here are 120 - 180 month.

    If you're going to spend 300-500 a month on a garage space or apartment room space, wouldn't it be easier to to rent a larger apartment with that money and just put up with the interruptions? You might even get a walk in basement townhouse.  I don't know where you live but the farther out you go from Leesburg the better value.
  • I guess for the sake of freedom of expression I would like my studio to be far from the eyes of my wife or anyone really. I get what Bob73 was saying about pinups, but using my wife and just alter her but a pinup is different than the portraits and art ideas I have in mind... one side of my art is a portrait business, so I want different looks and outfits and backgrounds which I could get working with many models... but just altering my wife is not really the same... it wont be perfect, I paint what I see... for abstraction or pinups or something, it can work... not for portraiture... plus even when I hired models in the past, I wanted to really know them before I paint them... I want to know who I paint... I want to capture their personality not just their look, I want to capture their soul... as for renting a bigger apartment, that is what I will eventually do... but I still wont be able to have my models over for a session as I stated my wife gets very jealous. I am looking to make a solid 10 portraits to add to my portfolio in the next year to build my business... since I started painting 4 years ago, I have been experimenting with different methods and still learning... Just bought Geneva paints last week and haven't gotten a chance to try them out... I can't wait to see the results :)
  • I'm not sure if this will help you. I had the same problem. Small home, no designated area to paint, small budget. So...I rented a temperature controlled storage unit. I'm sure it was ment to be. I was shown a 12x15ft unit on the top floor and it just happened to have a frosted skylight, and there was an electric outlet just outside the door to my unit. I was given after hours access to be able to work after 9pm. It's very secure you need a code to get into the building. There is an elevator and very clean bathroom on the first floor. It's only a 1/2 mile from my home. Oh the rent is $256.00 per month. 
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