French chateau, mini castle, fairytale cottage – when asked what the inspiration was for his custom-built home in Sparks, Mark Adams promptly replies, “Hogwarts.”
With its beamed cathedral ceiling, Mark’s portrait studio certainly calls to mind the Dining Hall in Harry Potter, a set that recreates nearly verbatim the great dining hall in Christ Church College.
Mark greets guests at the arched front door by opening a smaller door set at his height. It’s hard not to think of the gatekeeper from The Wizard of Oz, and when Mark’s twinkling eyes appear from behind the iron grillwork the illusion is complete.
There are dozens of other whimsical touches throughout the house that Mark and his wife Susan built.
A curved staircase inside a castle-like turret leads to the upper level, and an arched wooden door to the lower level has its own tiny floor-level hinged door to allow cat access below.
The eclectic home furnishings and abundant art collection all works together because of the Adams’ fine eye for detail. Everything in the house was carefully chosen – from a particular fabric on a bench in the guest suite, to the colors on the walls and woodwork of one of the secret rooms (yes there are two!).
“This isn’t the first house we designed and built,” explained Susan, “We took what we had learned from our last home in Reisterstown to make improvements on the layout for this one.”
Because they both like to cook, the kitchen was an important feature in the design. Because Susan is an avid birder, the wide picture window over the sink was a must. Centrally located, it is open to the family room across a wide island, and a hidden pocket door brings you behind the wonderful bar into Mark’s the studio.
“I wanted to recreate the feel of an old Irish pub” Mark says, “We looked at deconstructed Irish bars in antique shops, but all of them were too big, so we had the same people who did all the custom work in the kitchen create a bar for us.”
Guests can belly up to the lustrous wooden bar, prop a foot on the brass rail or take a seat at one of the high stools. With full-scale bar at one end and huge fireplace at the other end of the studio, this is definitely a place to party as well as paint. And Susan and Mark love to entertain. Their advance planning includes the fact that everything in the studio is on wheels so that it can be rolled out of sight for their ballroom-sized parties.
In their last home the studio was located at the rear of the house and they knew that in the new home design the studio had to be at the front. Opening from an expansive front foyer, the studio is convenient for both guests and Mark’s portrait clients, who include Judge Joseph Kaplan and former United States Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter.
As far as an artist’s resident studio, it doesn’t really get any better than this.
Because I work from home, I am always interested to see the spaces that other artists have carved out for themselves in their homes. It also means that in every single house that I visit with Whit Harvey, I choose which room would be my studio. In an ongoing series of blogs entitled "Artists Residences" I will be sharing these with you. - Cathy Evans
For more information on Mark Adams portraits go to markadamsstudio.com.
To read about his daily small paintings practice, follow Mark on his blog at markadamsstudio.blogspot.com
Photography by Beverly Funkhouser