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Welcome to my studio! Today I’m having a virtual studio tour for all of you who have wondered what my studio looks like. As many of you know, I am a plein air painter, so I only spend the coldest part of the year in here, and days with inclement weather. Still, I do many of my largest, smallest, and most important works here in the studio. It’s also a place where friends and buyers can come visit. So, come on in!
The photo above shows my main work area with my little furry mascot, Rondo. That’s Rondo’s favorite chair, though he is willing to share with visitors.
Below is a photo of what you see when you come in the door from the outside. I have three parrots in here, and two more upstairs. They give Rondo plenty of competition for attention. Since this is where I spend most of my time when I’m in the house, I really enjoy having the pets here with me.
Cookie, the Sun Conure, is the sweetest bird in the house. She’s very camera shy though. She’s about 10 years old, so has passed the stage of adolescent antics!
Lulu and Lucy, the Jenday Conures, are affectionately referred to collectively as Double Trouble. If there is a way to get into mischief, they will find it.
This is where I do 90% of my studio work. The large black cabinets hold most of what I need in the studio for oil and acrylic painting, and pastel work.
Artists always ask about these large, black cabinets. They have a long history and were built around 45 years ago for a completely different purpose. The drawers have fallen off the near cabinet. My husband helped me remove the legs and put wheels on both of them, so they are easy to move around the studio to reconfigure the space as needed.
Because I needed a higher work surface, I bought a bunch of plastic drawers at Staples and put them on top of the smaller black cabinet. Those drawers hold paint containers, palette cups, and assorted tapes and tools. Over that is a sheet of plywood, which is covered with brown craft paper. I take notes on the paper and spill paint all over it, then just replace it when there’s no more scribble room! I had a local glass place cut two, 16×24″ sheets of 1/4″ glass and grind the edges. Those serve as my palettes when working in the studio. You can see one of them on top of the cabinet above.
The other black cabinet has music drawers that are now used for storing smaller paper, pads, labels and drawings. By lying my two large speakers on their sides, I was able to put a large piece of plywood across the top to form another high work surface. I keep my brushes, pens, scissors, and other assorted supplies that require easy access here. I keep it covered with the cloth because it’s a little unsightly!
As you can see, I have a small easel just below my computer screen, and another glass palette there as well. If I have to work from a photo, I paint directly off the screen, rather than printing out an image. The color is always better from the monitor than from a print. When I need to work larger, I prefer to stand at the large easel that you see in some of the other photos here.
The lamp clamped onto my computer table also has a magnifier built into the top, which comes in very handy for my miniatures. The other lamp, clamped to the black cabinet on the right, is often used to light a still life on top of that cabinet, or for extra light on my work as needed. I have recessed ceiling lighting in the studio, and use flourescent floodlights in the high hats.
There is a long bench for extra seating over on the other side of the studio. I don’t have a crowd in here too often, and before a show, that bench gets cluttered with frames and paintings on their way out the door.
I do a lot of paintings from the windows in my house. There are nice views from nearly every room, so I can do “fake” plein air paintings even in cold and miserable weather! My studio presents some good window-painting opportunities looking out to the lake:
The view up the hill to the road is one I paint from time to time as well. In fact, I’ve painted this view twice in the past few weeks!
In case you’re wondering what’s taped to the window, that’s actually a lightfastness test, to see how quickly certain pigments will fade when exposed to direct sunlight. I’m testing alizarin crimson and some of the supposedly “lightfast/permanent” versions of alizarin, by many different paint manufacturers.
Artists often ask me how I can keep my studio space so tidy and organized. The truth is, my studio used to be an absolute mess. In the past six months, I’ve taken everything out of my studio that I possibly could, leaving the space here only for current work and what I need to do that. I no longer use my studio for storage of paintings, frames, or large paper and canvases. I’ve even taken the paintings off the walls in here to help keep my mind clear. Stored paintings are now in crates in an adjacent room and double-hung on walls. Most of my extra tubes of oil paints have gone to a large shelving unit in the adjacent garage. Frames and framing supplies are now taking up residence in the workshop instead of the studio. Colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and watercolors are upstairs in another little studio/den with my other two parrots. (I’ll have to do a separate tour of that one another day—there are some very interesting things up in that one, including my mini museum of artwork I’ve collected.) It’s not easy to keep this space clutter-free. Only by keeping what’s in here to the bare minimum have I been able to finally gain control over the chaos!
If you’re thinking of setting aside a room for a studio, I think the most important elements are:
1. Mobility of furniture. With everything on wheels, I can have a completely different studio setup in a matter of minutes. How often do I need to do that? A lot. If I have a model in, or work in pastels, or work on a very large painting, the setup is entirely different than what you’ve seen on this tour!
2. Don’t try to cram everything into your studio. Keep just what you need in there to do your work. Keep saying to yourself, “My studio is NOT a storage facility!”
3. Great light. You can’t paint without it.
4. Great music! It makes the world go round, and increases my patience tenfold when the going gets tough on a painting!
5. A spot for a still life setup and/or model. There’s nothing like working from life, whether out on location or in the studio. Photos are poor substitutes for the real thing.
In case you thought you’d never be able to find your way out of here, the door’s right over there! Thanks so much for coming to visit my studio. I hope you enjoyed the tour! If you’re not too tired and want more, check out the Daily Painter’s site on 12/19/07, when many of the other Daily Painters will be hosting virtual studio tours!
I have to add one more photo to this post, because my friend Jeanne complained about the absence of her favorite birds, Mango and Coconut. So, especially for Jeanne, here are the little cuties of the flock:
I do bring them down here to the studio from time to time, but fearless Mango invariably flies over to the Conures, who probably wouldn’t think twice about biting his little feet off when he lands on their cage. Even with their wings clipped, birds can fly enough to get around the room. So, it’s for his own protection, and Coconut’s, that the smaller birdies live upstairs.