In the heart of the historic district in Columbus, GA stands an old brick building that oozes old-time charm and nostalgia. Despite its stately demeanor and excellent location in the small neighborhood, this old school is still somewhat of a hidden gem, even for locals. When Marina Dunbar was looking for a new art studio space, she didn’t even know that this building existed. “Most people in the community don’t know who works here or what people do here. I heard of this space from a friend and when I came to visit I absolutely fell in love with it,” Marina explains.
As spacious and practical studios are hard to come by in Columbus, Marina knew that the old school building, located in her favorite part of town, was a unique find. The tall windows not only add to the historic feel, they also serve as a vessel for one of the most precious tools an artist could ask for — light. “It makes or breaks a studio space, and the light in this building is incredible, which is how I knew instantly that this would be the perfect workspace,” Marina adds.
Marina’s studio is an old classroom, with a large chalkboard running along an entire wall and windows facing two directions. Despite the wonderful light and generous size of the space, there were still several things that needed to be updated to make it accommodating to Marina’s creative process. To brighten up the studio, Marina painted the lavender-colored walls white as soon as she moved in. Even with the help of her mom and husband, this turned out to be the most challenging and time-consuming part of the update. It’s great having tall walls and high ceilings, but painting them is a whole different story!
When setting up her studio, Marina wanted to preserve the openness of the space while utilizing as much of it as possible. She creates her signature, nature-based paintings with layers of ink and watercolor washes, which she applies while the paintings are lying flat. The work method is very physical and to create even a medium-sized painting, Marina needs a good-sized table and plenty of space to move around. For a stable and flat work surface, Marina put together two plastic tables and stacked small wood squares under the legs to level out the unevennesses of the old warped wood floors. She also laid out thick foam padding around the work table — this trick both protects the floors and provides comfort when standing around the table for hours at a time. In between color washes, Marina hangs up her paintings to dry. A suitable drying station for her artwork was achieved by installing two cable wires that run parallel to the walls and act like clotheslines. Not only are they practical, they also create a wonderful installation of art in the making.
Besides making her studio suitable for her artistic process, Marina also wanted her space to feel comfortable and inviting. “It needs to be a place where I am excited to work but also feel relaxed,” she says. With this and her studio visitors in mind, Marina created a seating area in front of the large chalkboard, which has turned out to be ideal for writing down notes and to-do lists. Marina has made the most out of her old classroom studio, and she couldn’t be more grateful for having a space that is so perfectly suited to her needs. We’re so excited to share Marina’s creative process and selected works of art with you today, shown here in the gorgeous and bright setting of her beloved studio space. —Sofia
Image above: With six windows facing two directions, Marina’s 750-square-foot studio receives plenty of natural light throughout the day. “I love hanging my works on paper directly in front of the window. I think it looks really beautiful when the paintings are lit up from the back,” Marina says.