Today I was passing through my studio on my way out to sit in the sun for a few minutes on my patio, I looked at my painting area and was literally shocked at how messy it looked. I hadn’t been in there for a week and I think the best way to describe it is that it looked like I had been robbed! I guess when I am sitting there caught up in what I am doing the sloppy part of me takes over, it does not even register at the time! Before long I have paints all over the place, brushes littered on the easel and table tops. My palette looks like a cyclone has passed over it. With a palette like this it is hard to keep my paints from getting muddy. I can’t tell you how many times I end up searching for my knife or a certain brush.
My home is not like this, I have things organized and in their place but in my studio things just sort of transform into a big mess. I ask myself what in the world is my problem.
I know that is a good idea to start out each painting session with a clean and organized palette and working area. I usually spend an hour doing exactly this, and what a waste of precious painting time this is!
I put on my thinking cap and remembered a lesson sheet I used to hand out to new students. I dug through my many files and finally found it and after reading it decided I needed to take my own advice, which is often the case!
So for all of you out there that find yourself in the same predicament here is the lesson I wrote many years ago, I am going to try to follow it and maybe it will be of some help to you too!
First organize all of your paints and brushes so they are in easy reach. Only keep the colors you use the most close to you. Don’t surround yourself with tubes and bottles of colors you have never used. If you haven’t used them recently you probably won’t.
Have a place for clean brushes and only have your favorites in that place.
I like to have a duplicates of my favorite brushes near by so I don’t have to stop and clean as often when changing colors. Looking at my painting area I bet I have over 200 brushes, and I only use a handful! Talk about inefficiency!
Have your water basin and any extenders or mediums you use close by.
The one thing I need to figure out is where to put the dirty brushes I am using. I don’t like to put them upright when they are wet as the water runs down into the ferrule and that will damage it eventually. I tried putting them on a paper towel but they often roll off the table! I don’t ever leave them in the water so I am working on a place where they can be put until I need them again.
Use a Masterson’s wet palette for acrylics and a large clip board with waxed freezer paper clipped on it for my oils. I tried using a plastic palette but found that it was a real hassle to clean it every time I stopped painting, with the freezer paper I can just throw it away. If I have a lot of paint I don’t want to waste, I transfer it to a flat Rubbermaid container with a tight lid and place it in the freezer.
I have been in the awful habit of just squirting out the colors in no particular order but in the lesson sheet here is what I recommended:
When you lay out your palette you should get into the habit of laying out your colors the same way every time you paint. This is just good practice and keeps the painting procedure flowing properly. I especially like to put compliment colors across from each other and my whites and neutrals on one end.
Don't be afraid to squeeze out a good amount of paint, especially your whites, arrange them along the edges of your palette u will have a lot of space to mix on. By putting out enough paint in the first place it will save you time and you will be more productive if you don’t have to stop and squeeze out more paint every few minutes Try to include all of the colors you think you will need to complete that session of painting and always ]replace the lids right after you use them. Then put the paint back were it belongs!
That is one of my hardest things to do…sometimes I find myself surrounded with so many tubes or bottles that I have no room for anything else!
Instead of plopping out puddles of paint, squeeze them out in long lines. This way you can take the tip of the line with a knife onto your mixing area without contaminating the rest of the line. Make sure to wipe you wipe your knife off each time you change colors. Use your palette knife to mix colors with, A palette knife can be wiped completely clean so there is no chance of your colors becoming contaminated. Your brush is made for painting and not mixing, using a brush to mix with can shorten the life span of your brush if you are repeatedly mixing with it.
Good Luck with your endeavors to keep a tidy studio…I hope I can so the same!