Get the most out of where you paint
To make progress with your painting you need to practice regularly. A dedicated painting studio is often a problem, so let examine some simple solutions and a few art studio tips to make these options work.
Painting on the Kitchen Table
A permanent painting area in the corner of a room
Taking over a spare room as a painting studio
The kitchen table painting studio
When you are pressed for space and there is no chance of leaving all your gear permanently set up, you need to pare things down to the most basic. An old towel, a folding palette, a water container, half a dozen brushes and a few tubes of paint. All this should fit in a small bag along with a watercolor block or a few 1/4 sheets of paper.
It should take less than a minute to unpack and not much longer to put away – you might want to leave the towel aside to dry though!
Being simple and portable like this means you will always have somewhere to paint. You can get out your gear, work for half an hour then pack it away again without much inconvenience.
Try not to sit facing a window. The best light, if you are right handed, will come in from your left hand side so no shadow is cast onto your work by your painting hand. (Vice versa if you are left handed).
Don’t get bogged down with dozens of different brushes, boxes of pastels and pencils, all manner of paint tubes. Most of it is unnecessary and all it does is make what should be quick and simple into an all too hard chore. Keep it simple and paint a lot.
Being organised and having somewhere that doesn’t require complicated packing up and unpacking is the secret to regular practice. The more convenient your work space is, the more you will be inclined to paint.
Kitchen studio trimmed to the bare essentials – everything packs into a small bag inside a minute.
An out of the way painting corner
If you have an area somewhere you can dedicate just to painting it makes you sit and paint more often. I used to have an old roll top desk in the lounge room that I used as an art studio. I fitted a daylight bulb into the desk top and could paint away as the TV blared in the other corner. All my equipment fitted into the drawers and I could shut the top and everything disappeared. It was very convenient – so convenient that it took a number of years to convince my wife that the spare room would make a great painting studio.
Three handy things if you have the room – Flat paper storage, Storage for photos and sketches, a cool daylight compact fluro on a portable stand.
A spare room
A spare room means you can spread out and organise, not only your painting gear, but all the associated paraphernalia as well. After a couple of years painting you find stuff starts to accumulate – Photographs and source material, completed paintings, painting under construction, failures you cant bear to part with, cans of paint, gessos, primers, varnishes, mediums, brushes, tubes, papers, cameras, lenses, lights – the list goes on and on.
In my case, it seems the more space I have the more junk I accumulate, so once you move into a room you need lots of specialised storage. Flat, dry storage for paper and finished paintings is a must. It makes things easy to find and protects your expensive paper.
Watercolor Paper Storage
Watercolor paper is expensive and easily damaged, so good storage is important.
Store paper flat
Keep paper out of contact with acidic surfaces (Chipboard, MDF etc.)
In humid climates keep paper sealed in plastic packs
When traveling, pack sheets tight to prevent them vibrating against one another
Roll paper can be sealed in a plastic tube made from plumbers pipe.
A dedicated painting studio
Portable tables and a floor you don’t have to worry about are essential in a dedicated painting studio
A dedicated painting studio means you can design the room to catch plenty of natural light. The best light for painting comes from opposite the sun, so in the Northern Hemisphere, North facing windows and in the Southern Hemisphere, South facing windows.
An office area is handy as is a storage room for paintings and frames. A big sink is also important for washing brushes and soaking paper.
I like to have a large floor space I can work on and not worry about damaging. My floor gets a coat of pale grey every few years to reflect light. It looks great for a couple of weeks but soon develops the patina of a studio floor.
Portable lights are handy for painting and photographing your work. Large compact fluro’s around 5000 degrees K match closely to natural light and are easy to set your camera white balance to.
Try to keep your studio layout flexible. Sometimes you will be working on large paintings and need space to move around. Other times you will need plenty of bench space for framing or working on a series of works. Occasionally everything needs to be cleared away for photographing. Portable benches and folding tables give you plenty of flexibility.
No matter what your studio arrangement is, the most important thing is to paint as much as you are able. That is what will make your work improve and increase your pleasure.
Author: John Lovett