Around this time last year, I was in the midst of redesigning and renovating my studio. I had always wanted to do it but put it off because of time constraints and feeling too busy to take something so monumental on. Well, then came COVID.  To occupy my mind, I thought I would do a few things here and there. I told myself, “Do a small project. You can get it done in a day.” Well, you know how that goes. One thing leads to another and then I was getting my husband involved. The once small projects approach had now become a massive room renovation. I was painting the entire room, creating custom closet shelving, redesigning my easel with customized fixtures from lighting to a swiveling mahlstick, making a large palette desk that boasts a handmade palette cover and brush holder, and literally painting and faux finishing almost every object in the room. I even painted custom storage boxes! You know how it goes. Once you get started, you can’t stop! This isolation renovation included disrupting the entire studio while still managing to get work done in the chaos. I am a neat freak so this was a lot, both mentally and physically, to deal with.

To keep the creative juices flowing, it was important that the studio be an external expression of my artistic personality. I love all things decorative! Shown is a mask I created, my portfolio, a custom decorative box I made, an antique typewriter with painted accents displayed on it, my water fountain and a Chinese inkstone with brushes.

In the midst of my renovation, I was also teaching extensively online. Yep, working, teaching and renovating all at the same time! With online teaching, the redesign began to include camera setups with movable arms to make slight adjustments in viewing angles. Currently, I have two adjustable 1080 HD web cameras: one on the easel and one over my palette desk. The palette desk can also convert to a flat working area for demos that don’t need to be done on the easel. I also renovated a computer desk to sit near the easel on my left so I can see students at the same time I am lecturing or doing a demo. The computer also has its own built-in camera.

At the same time that I was starting my renovation project, I was also watching award-winning performances free online from the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. The Phantom of the Opera, which I originally saw on Broadway, inspired my studio redesign direction. I pulled out all of my NYC theatre memorabilia. What a joy it was to go down memory lane. Somehow, I felt reconnected to a city I love even when I could not physically be there. The other good thing that happened in this renovation process is that I began to get rid of things that I really did not use, need or want in my practice anymore. The purging process made room for me to put into the space the things that uplifted and inspired me. This was liberating!

The inspiration for the renovation is proudly featured in the studio. I added a few decorative accents to tie it in with other elements in the space.

In addition to the massive studio renovation, I had also begun to contemplate on the direction of my work, developing ideas about where I wanted to go in the years to come. This purging, reevaluating and redesigning process was something I didn’t even realize how much I really needed it. Although 2020 was a complete nightmare, some positive things grew out of it. My crazy isolation renovation project ended up being the best gift that I could have ever given myself during a time where everything seemed taken away. If you are considering a studio makeover, I say do it! Don’t put things off. Some day can really be today and you are worth it! Create from the heart!

My easel is fitted with a maulstick that swivels and swings, lights that rotate and move in and out and an adjustable platform for paintings to move up and down as well as back and forth. The backboard in black with gold accents allows me to tack up inspirational images and reference shots while I am working.

To see more specifics about my studio lighting, check out a previous Muddy Colors post I did entitled Custom Studio Lighting

The decorative assemblage accents on the easel are hand painted. The lower circular accent was hand sculpted!

The accents on my easel and mahlstick were made using molds and then hand painted. The mahlstick is tapered on one side for comfort while working.

I painted my art taboret drawers black to match the rest of the studio.

After painting the whole taboret black, I sponged the drawer fronts with gold. I later added a decorative accent to the top draw. You can see the accent in the picture below, where my taboret fits nicely under my palette table.

My large (52″ x 28″) palette table converts between glass for oil painting (shown on top) and plastic for acrylic painting (under the glass). It has an alcove that I can put supplies in as well as an upper shelf for displaying things that inspire me!  Above the palette table in one of two 1080 HD web cameras. On the backside of the palette table is a large desk that serves as my office space for business stuff.

My second HD web camera on the easel is on a long metal arm which can be adjusted and moved to anywhere I need it to be. When I am not using the camera, I put a large magnifying glass attachment in its place.

My studio closet has everything I need. I love when I open my closet up and it looks organized and visually pleasing! I redesigned the solid oak shelves so that they fit my materials perfectly when storing. All of my paints are stored in plastic containers, where each color has its own drawer.  Below are very large plastic bins for storage of flat work.

Around the studio, I have decorative masks that I collect and hand make. I love the theatre and want to surround myself with things that spark the muse inside me!

I love to decorate boxes to put things I collect inside. When I have leftover acrylic paint from a painting session, I will either do something in my sketchbook or decorate an object!

I  also decorate boxes for my studio closet storage. Some of the paint I use comes from other rooms in my home that I have renovated. I never like to waste paint…it always must go somewhere.

My custom handmade brush holder matches the rest of the studio decor. It is made of two piece of solid oak that have been glued and then edged with a router with a decorative bit attached. Holes were drilled for various brushes to fit inside!

This is my custom handmade palette cover.

Here are some work-in-progress shots taking during the isolation renovation process.

My storage dresser was being painted in the studio. Even though I had plastic tarps, I still got paint on the flooring….ugh. I did my best to “fix” the situation. After it was done, I ordered a custom piece of glass to fit on top!

I custom painted this accent and put it in a central location on my storage dresser in the studio. I love faux finishing things!

I faux finished each dresser drawer pull and later added a custom accent for a pop of color. See the finished dresser in the post above.

I hand painted these to work as shelving and accents in the studio. The bottom two moldings were added to my easel.


Many of the techniques I used in my studio renovation come from my artwork. Check out my video series!


This video series explore bas-relief techniques onto the painted surface. In the first video, the artist demonstrates working in various gel and fluid mediums to build texture onto the painted surface. She also shows how to employ pastes, lava gel, gel pens, matter painting and crackle texture to the dimensional surface in layers. (41.22 minutes)

In the second video, the artist demonstrates the sculptural application of various cloth and trim to the working surface to create a unique topography. In addition, she will show how bas-relief techniques can be used to make a custom collagraph plate for embossing watercolor paper that can later be painted in acrylics. (34.56 minutes)

In the third video, the artist employs assemblage accents, creates flexible accents from molds, incorporates unique sculptural details and applies custom textures onto the surfaces of a unique construct. (44.34 minutes)

The fourth video in the series demonstrates how to create unique faux finishes onto custom and repurposed assemblage accents. (53.54 minutes)

The series of high-definition videos  are available through online streaming. Gmail is required for private access. No refunds will be accepted after purchase.


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