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…
Well now that the show is over, back to my studio to complete the trumpeter and many others stacked up waiting for completion. I’m going to begin with the trumpeter. I had seen him playing his trumpet at an anti-pipeline demonstration on the grounds of the parliament building in Victoria. I began the underpainting some time ago and finally got him on my easel and worked on it enough to show at the opening of my show. The underpainting was done in Raw umber. So here I painted the background with Raw umber plus Flake white replacement. I then painted in his face using Flake white replacement, Transparent red oxide and Ultramarine blue, Chromium oxide green and Venetian red. (Indian red would be a good replacement if you cant find Venetian red.) Always think Complimentary colours when painting flesh tones. If the intensity of the reds are too strong, lower them with green and visa versa. Here I painted in Ian’s hands and his sweater. I cant remember what colour green I used for the sweater, but I think it may be a combination of Viridian green, Transparent red oxide (it’s complimentary) and white. I always make sure I leave some of my underpainting showing through so that it can optically mix with the colours I paint over it. The jar on the left is my favorite painting medium, stand oil, walnut oil and Gambin turpentine. The jar on the right is Gamsol odourless turpentine. Here I began painting in the trumpet, still much to do, I used a combo of Gamblin’s Flake white replacement, Yellow ochre, Lemon yellow and Raw umber. Note that the colour of his flesh is reflected in his trumpet. I was fortunate enough to have located Ian through a chance meeting with a friend of his. lucky me, hoping Ian would be so kind as to pose for the rest of the painting 🙂 more to come…..
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.
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Hope you enjoy the article and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
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.
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.
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’m experimenting with a paste made with ground calcite and heavy bodied walnut oil. I’ll let you know how that goes.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 :- )
It’s Thursday morning – I’m sitting in front of my easel contemplating my day’s work. I had hoped to complete this painting of Amanda’s tea party by the end of Friday. I’m so glad I painted the rest of her skin last night before bed. I stood here, midnight, still some mixtures of flesh paint on my palette. I didnt want to waste it, so I bit the bullet, eyes heavy, and painted her arms and hands. And now….. I’m a happy girl 🙂 Let’s see if I can make my deadline.
I spent some time taking stock of where I’m at and where I’m heading. I’m happy with my progress, although I feel I should be spending a couple more hours a day painting. I do tend to get side tracked. I should be more disciplined. I do tire so easily working on the same piece for too long. So I decided to set up another easel and complete incomplete paintings to break up the monotony. Now to scrape my palette, mix some more paint and then enjoy some yummy java, hippie style 😉
I’m making some progress here with Emma paying her Cello, not too long now, hoping for under a week. This painting has certainly challenged me in every direction and then some. If ur drawing skills are not spot on, ur in trouble. I highly recommend practicing often, daily in fact. Greatness requires enormous time. Based on a study by Anders Ericsson, it takes 10 000 hours to perfect ones craft. That’s 20 hrs a week of practice for ten years. There are no shortcuts. U gotta put the time in. Find the work of a master painter and emulate him/her. Study their technique, look at edges, light, reflective light, the colors they use. There is so much to learn. Undeniable talent equals countess hours of practice. There’s no mistaking it. There’s no faking it. Put ur arrogance away and humble urself. Immerse urself in study and practice. Once u have learned to control ur arrogance, then u will grow as a painter and as a person.
I still have a ways to go yet…years of practice. Diligence.