Friday, September 2, 2011

The Porch Studio

When I landed in Gainesville eight years ago, the little house we bought in the forest had a wonderful enclosed “porch” with 3 walls of windows, the perfect breezy spot for breakfasts accompanied by birdsong, casual dinner parties at dusk with friends, a cozy read on a lazy afternoon, and a magical place for the Christmas tree – all of the windows reflecting the lights transformed one lighted tree into a forest of twinkling lights.  It was also the only place in the house where I could paint.  And so, in short time, the porch also became “my studio.”   As you might imagine, over the years “my studio” grew and eventually took over the entire space with makeshift storage, paint and brushes and boxes and flat files and mats and a mat cutter and books and bins and canvases and papers and, of course, paintings.  Christmas trees, morning breakfasts with the birds and dinner parties overlooking the garden were a thing of the past.
Although I had been aware for a while that the porch was not ideal for a studio space – where, for example, do you hang your paintings when three of the walls in the studio are glass and the fourth wall is punctured with a door and three windows? – I think it was not until I spotted the perfect cedar rocking chair on a porch in Micanopy that I recognized how twisted it was not to let the porch be a porch that my spouse and I could both enjoy year round. 
The next thing I knew I was doing Google searches for “cost of converting carport into studio.”  I ended up on Service Magic and within a few days I met with contractor, Jason “Tug” Huddleston, the owner of Hudd Construction, Inc.  
When relatives visited last week, I began to organize the studio for packing.  The most important thing was to have a place where we could sit and have lunch together.  So here is a picture of a space that is in between; it is neither "all studio" nor "just a porch" and yet it is both.  
And though our guests had their backs up against flat files and a table full of 
Golden Acrylic Gel Mediums
, and 
High Gloss Varnish, the view overlooking the garden was great. The butterflies were out in full force that afternoon, and the hummingbird showed up on cue.  

Since then I've packed up most of the stuff that defines a studio.  And now the “porch studio” is nearly “just a porch” again.  We’ve had several breakfasts out there already.  

The big mirror on the table? That's a work in progress by artist Ellen West.  I'll write more about that soon.  


  1. Jim so happy for you that you will be able to enjoy breakfasts on the breezy porch while watching hummingbirds and that you have found a spot for your studio. How wonderful!!!!

  2. Thanks, Karen. I am feeling very grateful for the porch and for the new studio!

  3. Hi Jim- One of your silver incubator classmates here. I remember when we moved to Williamsburg, VA when I taught at William and Mary. We rented a big brick house and it had a lovely screened porch that I used for a studio in the nice weather. Glad you now have both to use.

  4. Hi Nanci, Yes, it is nice being able to paint on the porch and I can imagine how beautiful it was in Williamsburg! I do love my new studio space though. I feel very much at home in it, and that is a good thing! Right?