Beginning to Fill the Space

While everything still feels either lost or simply part of a big mess, it is a joy to begin to bring the studio’s working desks and pigments into the new studio space.

First Door

One of the exciting architectural bits I found in the local Restore was a set of 8-foot doors made of solid wood. Hanging such beasts took a lot of effort (and ordering special ball-bearing hinges to hold them!), but I like having them for this new space as they give me a sense of having moving walls.


The white ghosting of the wall paint is where the studio’s furnace once was. As you can see, it was taking up some significant space. Now it’s in the garage and these new ducts are going to bring the heat to the studio when it gets cold here in Red Deer next month.


Ah, the joy of finding treasures in boxes and then finding a place for them …

Beginning the Chapel

Amid the crazy task of cleaning out the studio’s old barn in Conestoga, I had to deal with many beautiful architectural bits I’d collected over the decades. I found it an arduous task to perform, and by the end, I was feeling pretty confused about the significance of many of the pieces. Some were gifted, some were burned, and I kept very few in the end.

One of the few bits I did pack in our shipping crate was the old 1800s wainscoting from Goderich and a set of turn-of-the-century church pillars from Cambridge. However, when I first unpacked them here in Penhold, I thought I had made a mistake as they were both too worn and dark to frame my work’s bright colours and gold. However, before discarding them, I decided to try stripping them to see what was underneath. I’m happy I did. The tone given to its century-old oak wood is quite beautiful, and I believe in this restored form, they will be a wonderful frame for the studio’s new chapel.

Laying Down the Flooring

Finding flooring that would stand up to the unforgiving environment of the new studio was a really big challenge. After visiting many shops, it seemed clear that the only good option was industrial laminate flooring because it is stable during temperature fluctuations and durable. While I already miss walking on wooden floors, for now, this is very serviceable and looks great.

Given that the studio isn’t entirely square or level, laying this flooring well required some hard work and patience. But Adele and Emmanuel were up to the challenge and did a great job fitting everything together.

Painting the Walls

Before laying the final flooring, it seemed like a good idea to paint the walls of the new space. I’m excited to see how this brightens and completes the area.

Installing the Subfloor

The garage where the studio is being created is built on a solid concrete pad. One of my significant concerns about working out here is that it could get icy on my feet once winter comes. After weighing many options, I decided to try an installed subfloor made to be placed down on the concrete. Hopefully, it does the trick!

Installing this subfloor meant hammering the 2×2 foot panels together with a sledgehammer—a task that Elise took on and completed largely by herself.

Reimagining the Ceiling

The original drywall in the old garage was probably hung about 30 years ago and never finished. Most of it has weathered fairly well, but the sheets on the ceiling were sagging badly and needed a creative solution. What you see here was my son Michael’s idea. Using some 1×4 spruce, he screwed each length across the ceiling’s joints above, creating a support for the tired drywall. The result, once freshly painted, looks really good and has gotten compliments from visitors.

Building Walls in Studio

It turned out that there was more work to be done in our new home than I had thought, so working on the new studio space had to be put on hold for the month of July. But, as of this week, creating a new studio has begun in earnest. As you can see, my wonderful crew of children is all drinking their morning coffee (or hot chocolate) as we create the skeletal forms of future walls.