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Studio Tips for Renting Artists

June 23, 2010

studio tipsSo you’re wanting to set up a studio space in your home or another area that you don’t own. You want it to be a space in which you can let loose and get messy, but you want to keep your damage deposit! What do you do?

Well, from an artist who’s had a studio space in every rented home she’s had, and who has always gotten her damage deposit, here are some tips.


Preventing Mess

Prevention is key! When you set up your space, take into consideration all the areas you want to protect.

The floor: A drop sheet is absolutely necessary, wall to wall if possible! A plastic drop sheet works well, but the best ones I’ve seen are double layered. One layer is a light canvas, the second layer is heavy plastic. If you lay this out canvas side up, the fabric will absorb any spills so that it doesn’t run off the edge of the drop sheet, and the plastic keeps it from leaking through. The double layer also makes it less likely that you will put a hole through it. Whichever kind of drop sheet you choose, heavier is better!

Some notes on drop sheets: Spiders love these things, so just be aware that you might have a few unwelcome visitors! It’s also a good idea to take them out every once in awhile to double check that nothing is leaking, as well as to let your room air out. Plastic can trap moisture and you wouldn’t want mold to grow!

The walls: This is an area that is easy to overlook. Even if you’re doing nice, neat paintings on canvas, there are a million ways that paint could end up on the wall. Dropping a paint brush, a flicking motion of your brush, etc. Identify the areas most likely to get hit and drape some plastic there. This plastic doesn’t need to be as heavy, it just needs to protect the wall. A push-pin or two should be enough to hold it up, and that won’t damage the walls too much.

Storage: Having a safe, dedicated area to store things definitely cuts down on the number of spills and accidents that happen in the studio. Try to keep your work area tidy and put things away after you use them. Clean your brushes promptly, pour out rinse water right away and keep your palette clean or put away.


Cleaning Up Mess

No matter how many preventions you take, no matter how careful you are, you will inevitably get paint in a place where it shouldn’t be. Here are some strategies for effective clean-up.

The floor: Luckily, hardwood, lino and laminate are easy to clean up. If the paint is wet, it wipes right off and if it’s dry, it scrapes off fairly easily. Carpet is tougher. Make sure you clean it up right away while the paint is wet. I’ve found that Master’s Brush Cleaner works really well to get oil paint out of carpet, much better than carpet cleaner. Whatever you do, dab, don’t scrub!

The wall: I have a few strategies that have worked for me when trying to get paint splatters off the wall. The first is using fine sand paper and very lightly sanding away the paint. You need to do this very slowly and carefully! Another thing you could try is using your own paints to mix the wall colour and painting over top of your splatters. This only works if you have a few tiny spots of paint to cover up, and make sure you test your colour somewhere inconspicuous first. Obviously, these should only be attempted if your efforts are going to improve the condition of the walls. The whole idea is to leave them as you found them, but not at the risk of doing more damage.

The sink: Whether you wash up in the bathroom or in the kitchen, the sink is another area where paint can splatter. The area you really need to worry about is the counter, which can stain. Make sure you wipe up anything that gets on the counter right away. The sink itself may look stained, but will wash up with some cleaner like Vim, or in extreme cases, some kind of bleach.

Your route: The last place that is likely to get dirty is the route you take between your work space and your wash-up area. I know this from experience… A spot of paint on the foot can be tracked through the whole house, or a handful of brushes that need cleaning can make a mess of the wall if you’re not paying attention! I’ve also gotten paint on light switches by accident. Just be aware of yourself and your movements through the house during and after working in the studio. The sooner you notice a mess, the easier it is to clean up.


Just because you don’t own your house doesn’t mean you can’t fashion a functional area to make art. You just need a little extra precaution and fore-sight. I’ve always been able to rig up a space that allows me to get messy. I once had an entire room lined with plastic and it worked perfectly! So get some drop sheets, set up a space that works for you, and start creating!


From → Art General

  1. I wish you had an answer to what to do if you accidentally drop a huge gallon of gel medium onto the carpet of your new apartment the first day you move in….that’s what I did. ☹ Luckily it was mostly in the closet…and i’m hoping they really don’t notice. I tried soaking as much of it up that I could–and then we also used a steam cleaner on it…but…well…gel medium and carpet don’t mix.

    Anyways–I just want to say your blog is looking so great!! Sorry I haven’t been around in awhile–it’s been fun catching up!

    Big hugs!

    • Hahaha, sorry Connie, no tips for that! Although using a steam cleaner was a good idea! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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