Starving Artist Studio opened its doors 15 years ago in the heart of Port Warwick and has been letting people unleash their inner creativity ever since. “Starving Artist Studio is a pretty magical place. A very safe place to heal, regroup and rejuvenate. The studio was meant to be here,” says Marlene Bealer, owner. “We have a wide range of options for patrons, including pottery painting, canvas painting, glass fusion, resin art, clay, summer camps for kids and even teaching art journaling.”
Bealer is married to an Air Force veteran and had moved all over the world before settling in Newport News. “I have always felt connected to art. I would have small part-time jobs at craft shops on base, and people would sell their crafts. Seeing the validation people get and how that validation of sharing and talking about it is multigenerational; it is a great way to communicate and understand each other,” Bealer says of her start in the industry. She always felt the drive to open her own studio, and the opportunity fell in her lap after her husband retired.
Starving Artist Studio operates on a walk-in basis. People can come in anytime to create art. There is a pay per base price which includes art materials. The studio will soon be open and offer classes seven days a week. “We are constantly adding other artistic mediums; we want to diversify. There are lots of choices,” Bealer says. With so many options and activities, Bealer has up to 14 employees who help her in the studio. “I have amazing employees; they are so great at maintaining detail and following up. We are like family,” she adds.
Bealer’s studio has ample space for private parties with advance bookings. “We have a party room, which is a private upstairs loft. It has its own kitchen and offers an ideal private venue for larger parties. Although the downstairs area is smaller, it’s great for kids’ birthday parties,” Bealer says. Kids from ages 5 to 16 can also sign up for Bealer’s art camps, which have a variety of mediums and activities.
While Starving Artist Studio is full of fun and creativity, there is another business aspect that is important to Bealer. “It’s a place where people can have a good time and experience art. Art has always healed and helped move me through emotions. I want this to be a positive place for Newport News,” Bealer says. “I love my job; it has challenges and is such a commitment, and I don’t know where else I would want to be. It’s for other people, it’s my purpose,” Bealer says.
When asked about what the most interesting art piece she has seen a customer create, Bealer becomes nostalgic. “Our business was three years old, and a young lady came in on a first date, saying she had never ‘done art’ before. I checked in on her and in 10 minutes, she had painted so quickly and was so talented, I told her she needed to start producing art. Now she comes in with pieces to show me and asks for help. She is even exhibiting in galleries now. The couple married and have four children. That is why I do this. Little stories like that make it worth it,” Bealer says.
When Bealer is not in the studio helping others with their artwork, she likes to focus on her own artwork.
Bealer has humble hopes for her studio. “I would like to see the studio thrive and continue to grow. We are part of this community. We enjoy what we do. I want us to be here for another 15 years — or more,” Bealer says with a smile.
TO THE POINT:
Starving Artist Studio
Address: 153 Herman Melville Ave., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Marlene Bealer
Business: Create Your Own Art Studio