Category Archives: Studio

Work Stations – Studio Smart

Don’t be an aspiring painter, be a painter. Be an artist, not becoming an artist, not learning how to be an artist.  Claim it!

You are all in, and then we artists must all produce art work. Here is a really important tip:

For artists, the studio can be thought of in terms of work stations. Each one always ready and tooled for a specific task. Even if you only have one drawing board on one desk, with one drawer and one paint brush.

Doing the art of your choice is a state of “being there” bliss. Yes, we must all still be productive, even if it is a hobby.  Even things like casual doodling should not use time to find tools and materials; doodling should not be dwadeling, having to look for stuff in different places because we are disorganized.  We should be able to just doodle, with tools at the ready, supplies there, and a place for the doodle “art” to land when finished.

It’s not about being super organized, or even efficient.  It’s about being effective in using the time for rendering your art. There are times when my studio sits idle for weeks or months and collects junk but none the less is ready, because it is set up in work stations.  Even when filled with boxes headed to storage, I can cut, paint, draw, glue, fix, create, not necessarily efficiently, but effectively.  Note: I do try and keep it clean though, and usually do!

Here is what a work station is:  First and foremost, no preparation should be needed to use it; not even clean up – that should happen after you finish your last piece you did.  The work space should always be artist-ready!

It is not size, but the assembly of right tools and materials for one specific task or skill.

A surface to work on, a light to work by.  Materials, tools and supplies within ready reach to use.  A place to put the finished work that is other than the work table.

Simple enough, right? Example: If you watercolor, your main area is set to do that.  Paint, water, paper, tape, rags, tools, supplies, anything that you include in a complete watercolor work session, is right there.

Even when you write or sketch or do other work in that space, it is “set” for watercolor.  If you’re sketching, the supplies and tools should be adjacent to that area in drawers, or containers.

If you paint in oil, set that work station in oil painting readiness, and if you choose to watercolor there also, set it also in watercolor readiness.

Don’t put all your supplies in one place, your tools in another place, and your materials in another place. Not in cabinets you have to go to, not in drawers over against a wall, but “there,” right there at the work station.

If you use one space to do several different skills, then you must re-set or mix your work station.  Your work “boxes” or “drawers” should contain everything needed to reset the “station.”  That is a very common situation, but if you are lucky enough to have several work stations in one room, one for drawing, one for painting, one for layout, a space for photography or whatever you do, then each one is set with its own tools and materials.  Pencils at every station, erasers, knives, brushes, pens, etc.  Duplicate or triplicate tools is both smart and useful.  It is not expensive.

I paint, and draw, and silversmith, paper sculpt, work in glass and mixed media, acrylic, photograph, computer render, copy and file, etc.  In my studio space, I have a dedicated surface for each and a common place for the unusual (fixing grand-daughter dolls, or broken stuff).  I don’t have a large studio – 18’X26’, that is about equal to a couple of medium bedrooms.

My drawing board is always render ready. The larger layout board is always standing by. The easel is canvas ready for painting or drawing within moments of inspiration striking.  Each area with its own set of tools and supplies.

The computer work area is adjacent to my smaller drafting table and that is adjacent to my colored pencil and felt tip pens with both flat and tilted drawing surfaces, ink and fine point graphite all within the same seated area.  One seat with four work stations within reach and without having to get up.  The thing that takes time is clean up and pre-prep of canvas or stretching paper and such.  Those things are table tasks and are done on the “big” table which has its own knives, pliers, pencils, cutting mat.  Glues, and a drawer full of small items, such as: tacks, string, wire, staples, hole punches (3), pencil sharpeners (3), stacks of paper by the ream, shelves nearby hold chemicals and solutions.

The tip: assign a work space and condition to each various task, and keep it that way: “Work stations.”  Now when you go to do art, it is art you are doing, not prep or search or distraction, just do art.


Studio Beverage Holder

Beverage Holder

It took me several decades of spilling my beverages on my art work to figure out a simple way to stop that.

For over twenty years the main rule in my studio was “don’t set any drinking glasses or cups on any surfaces.” Yet, I myself would do it.

Often someone would bring in ice tea, or soda or water and visit me and set their glass down, leaving a wet spot for me to set a piece of art work on and ruin.  Yet, I myself did so, also.

Just as often, the glass or cup would be forgotten and if I didn’t bring it in, I didn’t track it and as often as not I would knock it over to ruin even more art work, or tools or books, and just send me into a rage of despair.  So one day after getting lots of art work and a very favorite book destroyed, I set myself to finding an inexpensive way to avoid this.

I started with cup holders for cars, screwed to the side of my tables; it worked but I kept hanging up my shirt tails on them.  It took a leap of mental change – would I be willing to “cut” holes in my studio furniture?

Yes, I would!

I found a wire cup for office supplies; it was a pencil holder (part of a set), was 3 1/2 in diameter with a quarter inch lip flange.  Almost all our glassware fit inside of it.  I bought a 3 1/2 inch hole cutter and put holes in every flat surface work table in my studio (4 holes).  Now I can set my drink in a holder that sits below the table surface, is impossible to tip over and is handy.  I put covers on the glasses and cups now too, keeping things from dropping in and keeping me from dipping my watercolor brushes into my iced tea.  As long as you are careful putting the glass in and taking it out, no problem.  I plan on cutting more holes for more holders, too.  After all, the furniture is supposed to serve us, and once it is in my studio, it is not going anywhere else, ever.

Surprisingly, now I also put art tools, brushes, pencils, rulers and such, in them as well, because they are near corners of the tables and out of the way, leaving more table space useful.




Shelve It

Everyone is different, but one thing is the same – no one has enough room in their studio!

Most people don’t realize that lumber companies will cut lumber purchases to order.

Shelf tip:  Get a couple 4’x6′ beams 8 feet long (pine) from the lumber store.  Have them cut into 11″ long blocks (8) from each beam; also get 3 -1″x12″x8 foot boards (pine), have them cut into 3 equal pieces each (9 shelves).

To separate the shelves, you can use the 4″X8″ blocks from beams or larger (also sized from larger material at the lumber yard), and longer shelves if you have the room.

Now you have a set of shelves that can be moved around or fit into almost any studio, set on tables or stacked in corners.  Need more, do it again.  They will stack very stable, hold hundreds of pounds and are very easily changeable.  There are cheaper materials, but few more stable or flexible and interchangeable.