Apr 2, 2012

Room to Paint

By Linda Lover

When I paint I usually end up painting more than just my project. I will almost always have paint on my clothes, sometimes on the floor and even telltale signs like a switch plate or the bottom of my coffee mug. Most of my brush handles have spots of paint on them and my favorite ones have even more. Some of my large old wash brushes are caked in paint, but I figure it adds a layer of protection to the handle anyway.

No matter how great my intentions are of keeping everything neat and clean, usually the plan goes awry. I’m more focused on my painting than I am in keeping a spotless work environment I guess. My water basin seems to suffer the most as it’s seldom without water as I paint most days. And the plastic cloth covering my painting table is a good reference for colors that I’ve used. It’s where I pre-blend or work paint into the bristle since there doesn’t seem to be a palette big enough for this. Occasionally I will cover the work area with a large sheet of clean paper when I begin a new project and it isn’t long before it becomes a sample of all the colors I’m using.

Before moving to this current home, my painting spot was a secretary with a pull down door in the dining room. It offered about a 30” x 20” area on which to paint. It’s amazing the work I was able to accomplish in that small space. I authored books, did magazine articles, and painted for 3 stores at the time. Now I don’t do nearly as much as I used to, but still manage to paint quite a bit. And though my actual space for painting is about the same size because I use half of an elongated table for storage and extras, things have advanced a little. I now have the computer right next to my work space. I also have a roomful of framed photos that keep me company, a t.v. for entertainment or, in some instances, just for noise. The window is bringing in a lot of lovely sunlight and warm breezes early this year, and it’s a favorite place of mine to look out of when I’m dreaming up designs. When I lean back in my chair, all I can see are sky and tree tops and an occasional bird or squirrel. It’s an uncomplicated view, but one that is very lovely and one I truly enjoy. It’s amazing the colors that a sky can be from morning ‘til night, and so many cloud formations that seem to inspire.

It’s great to have a studio or an entire room set aside for painting, but if you have a small space, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. Once I saw a man painting on the sidewalk of a harbor and his supplies were in paper coffee cups and he only had 4 brushes. His work was fantastic. When I started out, I had only a small handful of brushes and was able to accomplish much with them. It was only after working with a brush company that I began to acquire many more brushes.
I used to mix my paint more often “back in the day”, too, as there weren’t as many colors, and sometimes I still find myself preferring a bit of a mix. I like to mix blues and browns for more natural looking nature greys. I also like to mix flesh tones. When I need a shade color for reds, I will often mix the red I’m using in a project with the green that’s also being used. Now I use Sharon’s soft scrub brush basin which has been an improvement over the canning jar of water I used to keep on my table. It sure eliminates the work in a final cleaning of brushes as the soft sponge removes most of the paint while I work. When you see the photos, Sharon…sorry for making such a mess of your fine product, however, it still cleans just a good as when it was brand new and the sponge has stayed in tact.

If you enjoy painting or even would love to give it a try, a great amount of space isn’t mandatory and with all the stackables these days, supplies can be stored conveniently and efficiently. I still find myself browsing thrift stores and yard sales for surfaces to paint. Occasionally I run across some really nice frames, too, or ones that can be fixed with a coat of paint.
Used canvas is also a bargain when you can find it, a coat of gesso and it’s a new beginning. Painting is a way to add a personal touch to decor, create gifts from the heart and hand, and even earn a little money by teaching or selling. But most important, I find that it’s a part of me, a reflection of how I see things, what I want to share with others and very often it can rekindle beautiful memories.
It’s about color, ideas, and self expression. This is a great time to try painting if you haven’t already, and you really don’t need a lot of space. With spring and summer, this would be a perfect time to give plein air a try. Or just take a sketch book or use a camera to explore the avenues of inspiration all around us from a village street to a country stream.

Take a really good look at the sky, study the trees and birds, examine a flower from the stem to the detailed centers and don’t forget the wildflowers and weeds. Everything around is just waiting to bring out the artist in us.

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New Free Pattern Blog
Sharon Teal Coray has a new blog offering free patterns! Updated often! Check it out!