Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Studio Tips

I have had a home studio for 3 years.  It is an optional bedroom in a house we built and has its own bathroom.  I selected a stainless steel sink because I was going to wash brushes there.  Instead of carpet or hardwood floors we had plywood floors installed that are painted a darker earth tone (close to burnt sienna).  The walls are white.  I have a hanging system and I will write post about this in the future.  When we sell the house someday the buyers can add a closet (where I have storage cabinets), remove the plywood, install carpet and chose a more attractive sink if they don't want to remodel the bath.

The layout of the room is a work in progress but I want to share a few tips I have learned from others.  It is small, and though I envy artists with large studios my limited space forces me to cull through things on a regular basis and make the most of every square inch.

My easel is big but not super sized, appropriate for my paintings which so far have never exceeded 30"x40".  Here is what it looks like-

It is made by Best and isn't the best as far as I am concerned, but it is very sturdy and wasn't horribly expensive.  I don't like using the knobs and leveling the canvas can be tedious.  That isn't the tip however.  What I want you to notice is the cheap unfinished table that holds my palette IN FRONT OF the easel.  I learned this from Ann Blair Brown. She uses a credenza in front of her easel to force her to stand farther from the canvas while painting.  Painters have a tendency to get too close and hold the brush like a pencil. Now I have to stand back and hold my long handle brushes at the end which is where they should be held to keep things loose.  I also prefer mixing paint in front of me rather than on the side table which is what I used to do.  It's easier on my shoulder and also better for looking back and forth while mixing.  I like having a drawer for extra tubes of the paint colors I use the most.   If you want to spend more check out the taborets (Cheap Joe's) or even a metal tool cabinet at Lowe's with a glass palette on top.

Next tip- if you paint from an iPad or similar device,  here is something I learned from Barbara Jaenicke.  Amazon sells a product called the Accmor Tablet Tripod Adapter which costs a whopping $8.99 and can be mounted on any tripod.  I have an old tripod that isn't very good but is perfect for this use.  The adaptor can hold large smart phones and most iPads.  I use the mini.  It's also good for making videos.   Check it out-

Here is my setup-

I adjust it at eye level with the painting- so much better than the stand I was using on the table! This also freed up more table space.  If your setup isn't close to an outlet you can get an iPad charger (generic) with an extra long cord for around $6 at Tuesday Morning.  I keep mine charging while painting so I don't run out of juice.  And I change (under settings) the "auto-lock" to "never" so I don't have to tap the screen every few minutes.  If you do this be sure to turn the screen off when your session is over.

If you are still using photo prints for reference consider making a change.  I will never go back now that I have discovered how superior a backlit digital image is.  You can crop, adjust the photo and save a ton on prints or printer ink.

Last thing- I like to have paintings in various stages on a stand to study, sometimes while I'm taking a break or on days when I am not going to paint.  I was using a display easel which only held 2 small paintings and wasn't very sturdy.  A painting friend recently told me about the Testrite Art Tree.  I found a used one on eBay which was quite discounted and I bought the most basic one.  Here is what it looks like-

It is strong yet lightweight and has castors which make it very easy to move around. Paintings can be displayed on the front and back.  It is portable enough to take to shows if you do that and can accommodate frames or panels.  Click on for a larger view.  You can buy a new one here-
or look for used ones on resale websites.

Bottom line- your studio is never finished.  Try new things, ask your artist friends (visit their studios if possible) and pay attention to the practical tips at workshops!

Happy re-arranging!  And thanks to friend Vicki for the Testrite tip!