One of the best ways to improve your work….

Don’t you wish winter was over? I know I do… I’m more of a spring and summer kinda girl. I can’t wait to work on my garden and grow veggies and soak up some warm sunshine!

Back to my studio, I’m working on a project I can’t wait to share with you! It’s big and will probably take several months to complete. In the meantime, did you know, one of the best ways to improve your work… is to paint every single day. Set a time limit and do your best to stick to it. Start with four hours and then decrease your time limit as you improve. Start with a small canvas with one object and then add a few more as long as you keep it simple. Challenge yourself with a very limited palette like I did on with the bowl of eggs and water and the silver sugar bowl. When your time improves, challenge yourself with a larger piece. Anything is paint worthy. Coffee mugs, teacups, glass or even a rusty old pot. It doesn’t really matter. Pick something and go for it!

Begin with an underpainting using burnt umber and then add color. Try to stick with a very limited palette to challenge yourself even further.

I would Love to see some of your studies! Feel free to post your pics in the comment section below!

Silver sugar bowl

Painting eggs and water1

Apples for christmas

 

 

I’ve completely streamlined my studio…

I woke up this morning determined to complete my shabby chic studio. I can’t wait to show you my beautiful easel and my studio set-up. I’ve completely streamlined my studio which is perfect for anyone who has limited space.  I live in a little cabin in the middle of woods, we had to do a lot of downsizing and streamlining. Marc salvaged a skylight and we installed it on the roof over my studio space. I absolutely love it! I have all this natural daylight flooding my studio, it’s north facing, so the light is pretty even. I used to have this huge studio easel and a huge palette table that took up way too much floor space, cramming my studio. Now… my easel and my palette are mounted on the wall, nothing touching the floor! Even my still life box is mounted on the wall, all at eye-level. I also turned a little book shelf into a drying closet for my freshly primed painting panels, minimizing the dust factor. There’s nothing worse than cat hair and dust settling on wet primer. Not long now, I’m almost done and I’ll upload some pics. So excited to show you!

Have a wonderful day and happy Painting!

Soon my canvases will be overflowing with summer blooms…

Wow, I cant believe I have taken so long to get back to my blog! January since my last post. I have since moved into a new place, a new studio. I’m still unpacking and organizing. Summer is finally on the horizon and my veggie and flower garden has been an important priority as I prefer self sufficiency. I’m also growing my subject matter. Organized my studio and soon my canvases will be overflowing with summer blooms, so exciting!  Pictures coming soon…

Studio Image

Studio Image

Super sweet Studio idea….

Here’s a great idea how to steady your hand for those intricate details. A dry-waller’s T Square attached to my easel. I can adjust the T square to fit the size of my canvas.

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I used a nut as a spacer so the T Square sits flush against the bottom shelf. Bonus, I can always have more accurate paintings because now I can always measure to compare. How sweet is that!

My Studio is now Chemical-free…

Last night was spent endlessly coughing. I didn’t sleep. My lungs have had it with chemicals. No more turpentine. Its over between us! My studio is now chemical-free.

Thank god for Virgil Elliot. An expert in the field of Oil paint and Mediums. He has found a safe alternative for this very hazardous profession. Safflower oil for Clean-up. Here’s an article he wrote on this very subject…

“All the natural resins have their drawbacks as ingredients in oil painting mediums, and increase the likelihood of problems developing at some point in the future. The most permanent paint films result from the simplest mixtures of linseed oil and pigment. I am less leery of alkyds than I am of damar, mastic or copal, if for some reason I feel a need for a resin in my paint. I find I can paint every bit as well without resins as with them. Our health will suffer less if we can find a way to keep the air in our studio free of solvent vapors. When the paint contains no resins, safflower oil and a rag will suffice for cleaning brushes while one works, and for that matter, afterwards, if it is followed with soap and water. I use different brushes for different colors, and do not clean brushes until I’m done painting for the day. Not only does that keep me from breathing harmful vapors, it keeps my colors cleaner in my paintings.”

Virgil Elliott

How to set-up an Oil Painting Studio…

Setting up an Oil painter’s studio can be a costly affair. It doesn’t have to be. In this Article I give you the basics of setting up your studio, how to make your own easel and how to organize your space. I cover the paints and brushes and mediums I use. Please note: I update this article on a regular basis as my experience as an oil painter evolves, so does my process.

Feel free to join us on The Oil Painter’s Studio Facebook Group and get in on all the awesome Videos, Tips and Lessons on everything Oil Painting!

Hope you enjoy the article and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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Studio

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 use 4700k Halogen lights,  so far the best quality light Ive used. I do recommend Placing a white cloth between you and the light to break the strong glare. I try not to use indoor lighting and paint to natural daylight. North light is best as it remains fairly constant.

solux

Easel: Although I love my floor easel, I also designed and made my own wall mounted easel with a slider. You’re welcome to copy my design. I also mounted a stick at the top of my easel on which to rest my hand. If you have a floor easel on casters, I suggest you place it on a rubber mat so it doesn’t move.

Shabbychicstudio

Chest of Drawers…

This is ideal for placing your computer monitor, your brushes and jars of turpentine/medium, whatever you use.

Studio setup

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.

palette

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.

Rosemary and co brushes

Mediums:. I’m experimenting with a paste made with ground calcite and heavy bodied walnut oil. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Oils: I mull my own paints using high quality pigments from Kama Pigments. I’m experimenting with heat bodied walnut oil,  using it to grind my paints. I’ll fill you in on a later post 🙂

Ultramarine blue

I highly recommend Kama oils, for those who don’t want to or can’t grind your own. Kama oils are handmade and have no fillers or inert pigments making their oils pigment rich and pure. Here is their fact sheet with product info.

Kama paints

Substrate and Grounds: I paint on wood braced  panels I make myself. Size the panel first before applying a Lead oil ground with Gac 100.

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.

I use a lead oil ground I prepare myself.  Lead white is an integral ingredient in oil painting, there just simply is no other way. I make the ground with calcium carbonate, linseed oil, lead white pigment and a few drops of cobalt dryer. Apply two coats. Make sure it’s completely dry before adding a second coat. Wait as long as possible before you paint on your oil primed canvas panel. Make sure is is 100% dry. If you can press your nail into the ground and leave an impression. It’s not dry.

Do remember that Lead white is Toxic, use the appropriate gear to protect yourself.

Safety when grinding pigments

Paper towel and clean-up… I prefer to use paper towel instead of rags to clean my brushes and for turpentine use. This way I can discard the paper-towel and not have turpentine soaked rags under my nose. 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 only use oms to rinse my brushes at the end of a painting session. Be sure to wear gloves. Even though OMS is apparently odorless, I can smell it, very loud and clear. I can’t stand the smell of it and avoid using it where possible. I’m trying my best to eliminate the use of solvents altogether.

walnut oil

It’s best to use walnut oil instead of Odorless mineral Spirits.  The old masters would dip their brushes in walnut oil and wipe off the excess when they resumed painting.
If you do use OMS, a fan is really needed, always have the fan on when using chemicals and a window open is ideal. Vacuum and clean your studio often to rid of dust. Nothing worse than dust and animal hair on your freshly primed canvases or freshly glazed painting.

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!

turpenoid

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.

Studiopc2

I made this easel myself and I found the caddy at the local junk yard, it was twice the size. I took it apart, cut it down to size, re-assembled and added wheels.

Good luck with setting up your studio and happy painting :- )

Save

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A studio pic…

Here’s where I work. The paintings in the background are still works in progress. To the right is my still life set-up and the painting I’m working on. The tulips are in a vase in water and I’ll lay them in the still life when I begin to paint tomorrow.

Still life set-up

I usually set up my still life near a window for natural light. At times when i need to paint in the evening I’ll use artificial ambient lighting as I prefer more subtle shadows.  But should one prefer dramatic lighting, then direct a spotlight on your still life set-up, but make sure u use the same lighting on you palette and canvas, that way your colors will remain consistent.

Studio still-life set-up