Setting up an Oil painter’s studio can be a costly affair. It doesn’t have to be. In this post, I give you the basics of setting up your studio, where to purchase a beautiful handmade easel and how to organize your space. I cover the paints and brushes and mediums I use. Please note: I update this post on a regular basis as my experience as an oil painter evolves, so does my process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
I’m in the process of revamping my studio. My partner built me a 10′ x10″ studio without any windows, with 11ft tall ceiling. It wasn’t possible to face north, so decided to go with indoor lighting. I want to be able to work in my studio, painting day or night and not be challenged by lighting. As soon as my studio is complete which will be a week from now. Today is 23 August 2019. I’ll be updating this post when it’s complete. I’ll take pics and video. I’m super excited!
Please Note: The links I have provided are not affiliate links. They are products I love to use.
This is a basic set-up with a north facing window. I bought this easel for under $250. I added the wheels so I can easily move it around. A table for my palette and brushes. In this set-up, extra lighting is not really necessary. Some aren’t so lucky and need some kind of lighting set up to paint.
Lighting: For lighting I just ordered flicker-free 5000k LED’s, high quality lighting. What is so awesome about these lights is it uses very little power and you can paint any time day or night and the light remains consistent and with a high Color Rendering Index. This makes a huge difference in the quality of the light. You can accurately mix colors and paint with confidence. Here is some info about their flicker-free light bulbs.
Chest of Drawers…This is ideal for placing your computer monitor, your brushes and jars of turpentine/medium, whatever you use.
In the top drawer I have placed my colors in a row all along the width of the drawer. This way I can easily find the colors I need. The next drawer down I keep paper towels, rags etc. Next I keep paperwork, receipts, notes and drawing pads.
Palette, brushes, paints and mediums…I use a glass palette I tinted with burnt umber and white. When you flip it over, it turns a beautiful gray. This way, you can judge your colors and values more accurately. No surprises when you mix a color with a particular value, you know it’s going to appear the same value on your canvas. If your palette is white and you paint on a tinted canvas, your values won’t be the same as what you mixed. Always keep this in mind.
Brushes : I use Rosemary and co Brushes, the best so far.They are amazing to paint with. The Classics are perfect for laying down paint and the Masters choice are amazing for smoother passages, and for painting flesh. The large bristles are ideal for background and the softeners for sky and clouds.
Mediums:. I just started using Natural Pigment’s Oleogel and so far I love how it handles. More on that in a few months.
I highly recommend Natural Pigments for those who want to use quality oils. Their Rublev oil colors are absolutely fantastic to work with. They are handmade using traditional pigments.
Substrate and Grounds: I paint on wood braced panels I make myself. Size the panel first before applying an Alkyd Lead oil ground.
I don’t recommend painting on stretched canvas. If you do, be sure to size your canvas first BEFORE you paint. The reason for this is the oil paint will eventually rot your canvas. You must prep your canvas properly.
Paper towel and clean-up… I prefer to use paper towel instead of rags to clean my brushes. I also find that the cheapest brand or even recycled paper towel is best. No lint. Avoid the big fluffy rolls of paper towel.
Even though one can’t smell the odorless Mineral spirits, it is still a chemical and is still dangerous. I don’t use it anymore. I use walnut oil as a brush dip to clean my brushes. I just wipe off the excess paint and dip my brush into walnut oil, don’t swish your brush, just dip it and work it into a paper towel.
My favorite brush cleaner is Turpenoid. I can’t live without it. The best ever! It will even clean off hardened stiff brushes, it’s amazing and totally Non-toxic!
IMPORTANT: Make sure you rinse your brushes off thoroughly with water to remove ALL traces of Turpenoid. This stuff does not dry or evaporate. Which means if you get this stuff into your paint, it won’t cure. Ever.
Don’t forget to check back in a week or so for updates with new pics and video of my new studio 🙂
I’ll be revamping this post with lots of very useful ideas, including how to make a picture stand and palette stand. Also the best way to mount your lighting to properly light your canvas and palette. I’m also going show you how I plan to modify my new easel and install a crank and pulley system for way, way cheaper than purchasing a crank easel. I’ll also explain why I’m painting my studio Black!
You don’t want to miss this!
Happy painting 😉