Studio thoughts

The studio at the top of the stairs:


I’ve changed media from pastel to oil paint. Turns out there are some aspects of my studio environment that become more pressing with the change. I didn’t want to stop during my session tonight and make a list, but here’s what I recall.

1. Lighting – A regular residential wall mounted light bulb and a halogen pole lamp were fine for pastels, but now I need more. Mixing paint means more moving around the pallet, more shadows are thrown, I spend a lot of time getting out of my own way. We have 9′ ceilings in this little house so perhaps some LED track lighting is the way to go? I’d be happy to get feedback on that.

2. More brushes in more suitable sizes – Why do I always expect to be able to paint with 3/4″ brushes on a 16″ x 20″ surface? Most of the marks I’m making are MUCH smaller than 3/4″.  The studio space itself won’t accommodate a panel larger than 24″ x 36″ (I know – I’ve tried) so I don’t see why I continually try to bend physics to my will. Time to put in a Dick Blick order, with restraint and an eye to the budget.

3. More paint – And by more paint, I mean I might be in love with Old Holland Titanium white. It’s amazing stuff. I don’t have nearly enough of it.

4. Learn to wear gloves – My hands sweat in nitrile gloves but I don’t currently have an allergy to latex and don’t want to develop one. I’ll stick to the blue, unpowdered nitrile variety and hope I get used to them quickly. They’re uncomfortable and I startle every time my bright blue hand comes into my field of vision, but it sure beats being covered in paint at the end of the night.

5. Patience – Paint is so facile, so direct, and the brush is such a sensitive instrument after all those years of using hard sticks of chalk that I find myself going too fast and jumping from one area to another all over the panel. I need to rein it in, proceed calmly, step back if I’m not sure where I’m going. I love the excitement, but I’m paying a price in errors and mushy re-do’s.

6. Draw it all out – I’m still working on my first painting in 20 years, not making much progress, and part of the problem is that the underlying drawing was wrong in several areas. Why did I think I could “fix it in the mix”?

7. Tone the panel – I’ve been working on a dark grey or green background for so long that the white canvas panel is a hardship. Tonight I put down a raw umber wash over my next drawing which will help me see the lighter colors more easily.

8. Paint more – paint more. Paint more.


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