I recently moved, which also meant moving out of my painting studio which I’d happily occupied for the past seven years. This was a big deal for me–I had a fantastic space with 2 large windows, a sweeping view of South Brooklyn, and a fair amount of space that even included storage. I was also afforded a great deal of privacy and quiet, as my studio was located in the rear of the building, tucked down a hallway behind 2 locked doors. Needless to say, I loved it there, and it was kind of a Fortress of Solitude for me.
Me in my former studio
All this was great, but it was also expensive. Much too expensive for me, anyway–even with my full-time day job, I was always stretched thin financially. And there were other negative aspects to the space as well: 9th Street would often flood during hard rains, and it would be impossible to get to (or escape from) my studio at times; it was freezing cold in the winter and scorching hot in the summer; and the whole place was filthy, especially the sinks/bathroom I shared with twenty other artists.
Perhaps the most infuriating development, though, was when the landlord began shutting down the infamously unreliable elevator at 5pm every day because he was tired of rescuing people who got trapped in it after hours. This may not sound like a big deal, but it made life extremely difficult for the artists and musicians in the building. If you had to transport paintings, heavy gear, or a bicycle to/from the studio, you had to carry it up 4 flights of stairs. The stairs were long and steep, and usually engulfed in total darkness because the electricity in the building had been screwy ever since Hurrican Sandy. Towards the end, there were several times when I had paintings in a show, and ended up having to make 5 separate trips up and down the stairs to get everything in the car (and let’s not forget leaving it unattended while I made trips up/down).
So when we had an opportunity to rent an apartment in South Park Slope that had a perfect built-in studio space, I jumped at the idea. I now work in a space that is a little bit smaller– but it is in my air-conditioned home, it’s clean and tidy, I have my own bathroom, and I can work any time I want without having to walk or bike the mile and a half to Gowanus in the rain, snow, heat, traffic, etc.
Moving day at the old studio. My buddy Alex was sad about it, too. Or maybe he was just hung over.
I won’t lie–it took me some time to adjust to working in the new space, and I still have moments of doubt. I was accustomed to working my day job from my home in Red Hook, then walking over to Gowanus to paint in the afternoon/evenings. I had a schedule, I was regimented. I was also getting in a good deal of exercise and head-clearing with the walks to/from Gowanus. I quickly realized how important that part of my day was. I now make sure to get out of the house and take a stroll every afternoon, just to separate those 2 parts of my work day.
Another adjustment has been privacy. My husband was used to having the whole apartment to himself just about every evening and weekend. Now I am home all the time. This is hard for him and hard for me–it’s not that we don’t want to be around each other, it’s just that we were both used to having our alone time. He likes to play loud video games and music…I have bright studio lights and listen to PodCasts. We are both aggravating in ways that were never a factor before, but it was nothing a curtain and some headphones couldn’t fix.
I thought it would only be a matter of days, but it actually took nearly 2 months for me to get used to working from home. And sure, I do miss my old studio, and I will definitely miss the sense of community (and the yearly studio tour), but in the end, I’m pretty sure I’ve traded up.