Artist Marla McLeod works on a piece featuring her niece at her studio in New Haven. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Last year, artist Marla McLeod sold a painting for nearly $10,000, enough money to pay her current rent for more than half a year. She also worked two jobs, doubling her income. Teaching art on Zoom let her jump from Tufts University to Southern Connecticut State University without leaving her apartment.

“So it went from really having to work with next to nothing — it’s difficult, but it’s when you’re used to living like that, I suppose it’s OK,” McLeod said. “But now I don’t have to and I feel so good. I feel like my mind feels so free and I get to do more work.”

McLeod was finishing her masters in fine arts at Tufts last spring when the pandemic forced the university to shut down its studio space. She moved in with a friend just to have adequate space to paint. Her canvases moved with her, occupying wall space in her friend’s home, her sister’s basement, and now her own small studio in New Haven, Connecticut.

“For me, home is wherever I make it,” she said. “But it’s really important for me to have a space that I feel like is home. And there was a period of time like in between having to be at my friend’s house and having my own space and then the COVID situation and moving to my sister’s house. It was like none of these spaces feel like mine. That was disturbing to me. I didn’t like it.”

She often says her apartment feels dry if it isn’t full of art.

Read the rest of the story at WBUR’s website.