Posts Tagged ‘studio’

A traveling studio

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Traveling-Studio Supplies

As I mentioned in my previous article, “A Palette to My Taste,” I normally prefer to work with moist paints, fresh from the tube. I forego that luxury, however, when I travel. Instead I use a small “piggy back” palette, with a lid of its own, which serves as my mixing tray. This entire tray can snap into the lid of a larger palette, which I leave at home. Squeezing a limited quantity of creamy paint into the tray’s palette cups, I intentionally allow them to dry for several days, uncovered. Each cup is labeled with the color and manufacturer’s name so I can restock it with the same color when I get back home. After the paints have dried in the tray, they are no longer subject to airlines’ “liquids” regulation so can be packed into either my suitcase or a carry-on bag.

My other traveling-studio necessities include a soft drawing pencil, eraser, and a fistful of brushes—a #30 round synthetic (my workhorse), #8 round synthetic, a natural-hair brush somewhere between those two in size, a #0 round or liner for detail, a small scrubber, and (if I intend to use frisket) a small disposable round. An old toothbrush or typewriter eraser brush works fine for spattering paint or water.

I like to tuck in a compressed cellulose sponge or scrap of terrycloth (such as an old washcloth) with which to sop excess water from my brushes and to wipe up spills, in lieu of relying on paper towels or fast-food napkins, which aren’t always absorbent enough for my needs. A quart-sized collapsible water bucket is handy, too, but in a pinch, a jar, can, or even a small disposable cup can be used. (I avoid employing reusable food or serving containers when using any potentially toxic pigments, such as cobalts or cadmiums.)

Watercolor “blocks” of paper, up to quarter-sheet size (about 12 x 18), can be packed in a carry-on suitcase. These have the advantage of providing their own backing and do not require stretching. (I save any covers or backing boards to use as stiffeners for finished paintings to be repacked for my return.) Or a small watercolor journal can easily be slipped into even a mid-sized purse. Paper larger than quarter-sheet size poses more of a problem, since it must be bought at my destination and shipped back separately. I don’t use an easel. Since I prefer to work on a horizontal surface, and watercolor blocks include their own stiff backing, a table, flat rock, or even a lap can suffice when I’m traveling.

Other items are optional, depending on whether I anticipate needing them. Liquid frisket can be bought in small containers, either for packing or as an on-location purchase. Spray bottles (to be carried empty) are available in travel sizes. And drawing pads and graphite paper can also be easily packed if I expect to want them.

But whenever I’m traveling, the most crucial “studio” element of all is my camera, supplemented, of course, with extra batteries and memory cards. I don’t always have time to execute a painting on location, but I can almost always manage to snatch a moment to whip out my camera to record a scene, a mood, or a detail for future reference.

If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested also in my previous article, “A Palette to My Taste,” and the upcoming articles, “Selecting Paints” and “Staying Out of the Mud.”

Wishing my babies farewell

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I’ve been asked if it’s hard to give up my paintings when I sell them. Like anything in which I’ve invested time, energy, and focus, yes, I have to admit that sometimes it is hard to let go. But much as a cook takes pride and pleasure in sharing a meal that has been carefully prepared, I take pride and pleasure in other people’s enjoyment of what I have produced in my studio.

When someone tells me how a piece they bought is being used, or shows me how it has been framed and where it is displayed, it reinforces my satisfaction in the sale. It’s like seeing a gift put to good use, an affirmation that my work is appreciated and enjoyed.

Particularly with pet portraits like those in the Animal Gallery, because I’ve been able to capture the animal’s personality, the buyer’s friends may comes to me to have portraits done of their own pets. That’s exciting to me because, once again, it’s an affirmation that my work has provided something satisfying and unique that pet owners appreciate.

I keep photographs of most of my pieces for my own records so I can look back through them to remember what I’ve done, evaluate how my style has developed over time, and recognize how my work has matured. As in most houses, the wall space in our house is too limited to even attempt to hang all my paintings. Rather than stacking finished pieces away forever in some dark closet, I would much rather see them into the appreciative hands (and onto the walls) of an admirer.

The paintings that are most difficult to give up are those I like the best, those I’m most satisfied with. Unless I have painted them with a specific site in mind to display in my own home, I’ve decided that those are the ones that most have to go. That is my best work. Those are the pieces I most want to go out into the world. Like a proud parent, I’m both sad and happy when my babies leave the nest. Sometimes it’s hard to let go, but, as in parenting, the whole idea in creating paintings is ultimately to send them off into the real world outside the studio.

Any income from sales, at this point, goes right back into supplies, lessons, and materials to help me continue to progress, produce, and sell even more.

Visit again on the 15th for “Just my style, Part 2.”