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Behind the Scenes: My Studio (Then and Now)

Google Wishing Me Happy Birthday

When I logged in this morning, I had 70+ messages from Facebook, and even my Google homepage, wishing me “Happy Birthday!”. Today, I am 36 years old. :)

I had originally intended to blog about my resolutions and art/business goals for the New Year, but I spent yesterday cleaning out my studio and reminiscing….

When I began my art career, in early 2009, my “studio” consisted of my dining room table (for painting), a computer desk, and a small closet for my supplies.

My original studio in the family room

In May 2010, we moved to our current 3-bedroom residence (as renters), and I claimed one of the upstairs bedrooms for my studio. My youngest children were still in diapers, and my 1-year-old son was sleeping in our room, but I knew the time would eventually come when the premium space would need to be relinquished.

For a short while, I enjoyed having an entire room to myself. It’s funny that you take “your room” for granted as a child, and you dream about one day owning an entire house!
The reality is that getting married, and having kids, means that NO ROOMS are yours alone. You share your private spaces with your spouse, and every other room belongs to the family… even the bathroom(s)! :P

When we purchased our house from the landlord, in 2013, I realized that Jacob and the girls would now be “growing up” in this house, and requiring spaces of their own. The creative half of the studio moved into our bedroom, and the office space relocated downstairs… where I spent most of my time, anyhow, divided between supervising their antics and attempting to work on my websites.

It felt like a step backwards for me, and I mourned my dedicated studio, but I adapted, mainly because my work was never confined to one space.

I have my travelling tote (full of paints and brushes) that I carry everywhere. I have worked on my portraits at local parks, as a passenger riding in the car, and inside my booth at festivals, although my favorite place to paint is outdoors in the garden.

Which is why I felt amused, and a bit alarmed, when the Hagerstown magazine asked to feature me for their Kickstarter article, and wished to photograph me “in my studio”. Which studio?! My bedroom? Outside in the yard? My dining room table?

Literary Cats Calendar TaraFlyArt Studio

My husband and I decided to clear out the enclosed back porch, which had previously been collecting bits and pieces of “storage” furniture and junk, and convert it into “a studio” for appearance’s sake. Of course, when we were finished, it was a major improvement over its previous condition, and so it “officially” became my new studio.

Now, my entire studio doesn’t fit into this space. Currently, my art table and painting supplies are here, along with filing cabinets and a dresser containing more craft supplies (and odds’n’ends, like Christmas lights….). The ladder with shelves was yesterday’s improvisation, because I want a sunny spot to grow seedlings during the winter, and houseplants all year long.

I hesitate sharing these pictures, because I know too many neat-freaks who will shudder and say, “You cleaned your studio?! You call THAT clean????”

My art studio space

I will never be a minimalist with a spotless desk. Ever. This is as “uncluttered” as it gets when I am constantly using the space. :P

This pack-rat queen did dig through all the filing cabinets and dresser drawers, and I filled a 30 gallon trash-bag with things I could no longer use or conceivably re-purpose.

The most surprising discovery (although less surprising to you neat-freaks!) was that I found a LOST ORIGINAL PAINTING!! Haha

I had been wondering what had happened to my “Wise Cats” for the past couple of years, because I had no record of selling it, and I couldn’t remember gifting it to anyone. Although my studio is a total mess most of the time, I do keep precise records… but it just appeared to have vanished!

Wise Cats Painting Instagram

It turned out to be simply a filing error. I had stored it amongst my older reproduction prints, rather than placing it with my finished paintings.

I do wish I had discovered it sooner, because “Wise Cat” prints were really popular over the Christmas season, and I would likely have sold it to somebody! Oooops.


My computer workstation, two printers, scanner, and office supplies are still situated in the main living room. One of these days, we plan to built a bookshelf with cabinets to store all of this stuff. It has been on the To-Do List for two years! ;)

My printing station

I also need an area to pack/ship orders: a clean, organized space, separate from my messy art table where all the chaotic magic happens. My poor dining room table was taken over by shipping materials last month. It’s a good thing we hermits don’t host any holiday parties!

I think that my next major project will be to clear out this miscellaneous side of the porch, to make room for a shipping station!

Cluttered other half of studio

Oh, if you are wondering why we blocked that exterior door, it is because we no longer use it as an exit; the sliding glass door we installed, in the summer of 2014, is more convenient than a single door, and provides us with more light… something this poor row-house sorely needs.

While I might spend time drooling over other artists’ spacious (and tidy!) studios, and pinning beautiful interior designs on Pinterest, our lives and art go on…. right here where we are.

I am really excited to get back to work, and to make 2016 a productive year! Happy New Year to everybody! :)

Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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