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.
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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 easilly 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 is everything. I assure you, I have researched this subject thoroughly. I have tried Every type of lighting on the market. Some Artists are fortunate enough to have a north facing window, this would be an ideal lighting condition, However, some aren’t so lucky. The alternative, 5000k natural daylight. This is inexpensive and I’ve seen all sorts of companies trying to pass off studio lighting for way too much money. I was able to get mine at a fraction of the cost. I am fortunate enough to have a skylight in my studio, however on dark cloudy wintery days, I switch on my panel light, it’s like a skylight without a skylight. It’s best to mount it as high as possible at a 35% angle to prevent glare.
The reason for the 5000k light, is it is the truest light form you can paint to. The colors on your palette and on your canvas remain true. Anything else would be too yellow or orange or blue and can alter the illusion of color and you will end up with a painting that can’t be viewed in any other lighting. If you show your work in an outdoors show, your colors would be off, guaranteed, been there, got the T-shirt. I use this light, it’s pure white, neither yellow nor blue.
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 mounted my palette onto the wall next to my easel. then I mounted a piece of glass I tinted with burnt umber and white. Here’s an article I wrote on how to tint your palette. How to tint your palette and why you should
Brushes, I use Mightlon, they’re great brushes for an affordable price. They hold their shape beautifully and last longer.
Oils, I’m fussy, I love Old Holland classic oils, high quality, the best I can afford. Feels good to work with, smooth and never disappointing.
Mediums. I can’t handle the smell Turpentine. Which means I can’t use Damar crystals. Too hard on the lungs for me, being asthmatic doesn’t help. FYI, Damar crystals do not dissolve in odorless turpentine or Gamsol.
For medium I use Walnut oil and Stand oil and Gamsol’s odorless mineral spirits. It takes a while for Stand oil to dissolve in oms, so give it a week or so to dissolve. Stir, never shake.
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 paint and handle all chemicals and oils with disposable gloves.
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!
Good luck with setting up your studio and happy painting :- )
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