With the recent remodel project at our house, I found myself totally overhauling my studio and getting reorganized. It seems like the perfect time to show you around!
A recent visit to a friend’s house and her dedicated room for a studio got me thinking. She has a room for nothing but art, and it made me seriously jealous! Since I can’t dedicate a room in my house to just a studio, I started brainstorming on what little changes I could make to give me more space for painting.
My studio doubles as my office and a guest room. For years I’ve had an unnecessarily enormous desk that I inherited from a previous employer. Since for the time being, web and graphic design are still my main source of income, I couldn’t operate without a desk. So I downsized instead. I found a simple white desk that fits perfectly into the corner by one of my windows.
I work on a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro, with an Asus ProArt 24″ monitor. Although I was infatuated with the giant Apple Thunderbolt display, I couldn’t justify the $1,000 cost. The Asus does a great job for about a quarter of the price. Not only do I use this set up for my design business, I also use it to edit and process the images of my paintings.
On cold days, it gets a little chilly by the window, so I sometimes find myself wrapping up in my favorite maroon and white afghan, crocheted by my Grandma Baldwin right before I moved to Colorado 11 years ago.
It’s soooo cozy! I love working at my desk cuddled up in this blanket, sipping a hot cup of tea.
Switching to a desk with less storage required that I get better organized. The printer and router got moved into the closet, along with all my office supplies, some painting supplies, and framing components.
I store my canvases, frames, and paintings inventory in a storage room in our basement. I really wanted to minimize clutter in my studio, since clutter always seems to distract me. I like keeping the big things in a separate place.
By my easel, I’ve got a 4′ folding table where I keep my palette, paints, and brushes that I am actively using (I have about 4 times the amount of paints and brushes tucked away in drawers and bins!).
I use Carol Marine‘s recipe for medium: 2 parts linseed oil, 1 part stand oil, 1 part Gamsol.
My oil paints are Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colors, which I have been happily using since high school. Some artists poo-poo using student-grade paints, but they work fine for me! I’ve also seen incredibly successful artists using the same grade of paints.
I prefer working from a monitor rather than a printed photo. I use my 8-year-old Dell laptop, which as you can see has accumulated some paint smears! One of these days I’ll upgrade to a larger monitor, but for now this gets the job done.
Since I committed fully to my art about 15 months ago, I’ve been back and forth about painting in oils vs. acrylics. I’ve been experimenting with both, trying to decide if I want to go in one direction or keep painting in both. To clarify, I don’t ever use both oils and acrylics together in one painting. The only exception is if I do an acrylic underpainting and actually create the painting with oils.
One of the things that is most frustrating about painting in acrylics is how fast they dry. Last year I tried plein air painting in Colorado for the first time, and I almost threw my palette into the river because the paints were drying so fast!
However, over the summer I saw David Gonzalez, an acrylic painter from the Colorado Springs area, painting at an outdoor event with one of these:
The sun was beating down, and it was hot, dry and breezy. And he was painting in acrylic! I asked him how he was managing, and he introduced me to the magical Sta-Wet palette.
A large, damp sponge is placed in the tray, a special piece of palette paper is placed on top, and your acrylic paints are kept moist! I went home and immediately ordered the Sta-Wet palette for myself.
A couple of weeks ago I went plein air painting up on Baldy Mountain. I brought my new palette, and when I was finished I closed the lid tightly (it’s air-tight, but not completely moisture-proof). Today I opened up the palette and my acrylic paints were STILL wet! Amazing!
Here you can see how dry my hands get – I wash them all the time when I’m painting, and no matter how much lotion I use, they are always dry and cracked.
Another side affect of being a painter is the smudges of paint that appear in your house. Here’s a smear of blue – I swear 95% of the time it is some shade of cobalt blue – on my closet door.
If anyone has any tips for avoiding this, please let me know! I’ve come to accept surprise paint smears (on furniture, my car, my clothes, etc) as a fact of life.
So probably the best part about my studio is the light. Some artists prefer Northern light, but personally I like a bright, cheerful studio. I guess I’ve lived in enough homes over the years with poor light that I just want sunshine! My windows face East and South.
My East facing window’s view:
The brown grass is a little drab this time of year, but you can’t beat that Colorado bluebird sky! I occasionally see critters roaming by – mostly dogs, birds and fox, but also deer and even the elusive moose. Neighbors have seen bears, but I have yet to see any (although we’re pretty sure our garage had a visit from one a couple months ago – we accidentally left the garage door open over night – whoops!).
My South facing window’s view:
This is actually pointing more Southwest – the neighbor’s house is directly South and isn’t all that exciting for a blog post 🙂 The mountain range is the Ten Mile Range, which has just recently turned white with snow. You can see Peak 7 at Breckenridge Ski Area, as well as some of the runs cut into the trees on Peak 6. I know I am spoiled to have this view from my home and workplace!
I am so thrilled to finally have my studio all set up after a remodel-induced hiatus from painting! I started painting again over the weekend and it feels so good to be getting back into my groove. I’ll be posting new paintings very soon. I hope you enjoyed this little tour!