Friday, January 23, 2015

Studio Work

Let's get ready for a great year of painting!

If you want to paint, but just cannot get in gear, your best inspiration may be as easy as a little art "housekeeping."  A little time organizing, cleaning and taking inventory of your supplies can give you that extra courage.

Let's clean house!

First of all, get rid of all the old ghosts of ideas that lost their appeal. 
If it is a painting and the unfinished image haunts you, gesso over it... several times or better yet, put it in the trash now! 
It is standing between you and your future enjoyment.  It has to go.

If you have photos and tear sheets and possibly a few sketches that have "cooled" to the point you really cannot recall the attraction to the subject, gather them together and put them in a folder and label it:
 "Ideas To Paint"
It can take years for an idea to assemble in your mind.  Until you can see it in your mind's eye, you should not try it with the exception of doing a few thumbnail sketches in your sketch book.

Make a folder for any other art ideas.  Arrange them in a neat order of current importance.
          Do not put them away.

"Putting away" is just another term for "burial."

Next, lets go thru all your paints.  Make a list of your colors.  On an index card, make a shopping list.
At the current cost of many paints, you may need to buy one tube at a time using a discount coupon.

Gather all your brushes and make a list.
Using a good art catalog such as
Dick Blick,
Cheap Joe's or
Jerry's Artarama,
make sure you have a good variety of styles, sizes and quality.

Real Brush Work!
Using a good brush soap take the spare bathroom sink for cleaning brushes.  Examine all brushes.  if they feel stiff, they may have dried paint in them.

Add water to soften the brush soap if it is a bar or in a jar.  Using lukewarm water begin with the dirtiest brushes and gently work soap into the bristles. 

Do not force this step or you may break dry brittle bristles.

I like to allow the soap to stay in each brush at least for an hour.  It will do a much better job as it softens old paint and conditions the delicate hairs or bristles.

Use the palm of your hand to rub each brush gently.  If the soap turns a color, you will know you are doing a good job of removing old pigment. 

If a brush still feels stiff after one or two washings, it may be necessary to allow the brush to lay on the counter with lots of wet soap in the bristles.  Allow it to sit overnight.

 Do not soak brushes in a jar or dish of water!!  

Once you have cleaned each brush, rinse well. 
The soap can have a bad effect on your paint.

Allow brushes to dry for several days.
 Do not stand them up as this will cause the moisture to get into the handle which can make the handle swell and become loose.  Once this happens the life of the brush is very much in danger.

The image shows a brush resting in the turp jar.... this is a very bad habit!!

Cleaning Your Turp Jar

I only do this once or twice a year.  It can be a very messy job so plan to gather all the cleaning supplies and do the cleaning outside.

You will need:
a extra clean jar or can
Fresh turpentine
disposable gloves
paper towels
several used Walmart bags

Allow the turp jar to sit overnight without moving so all the paint sediment will settle to the bottom.  Gently move it outside to begin clean-up.

Pour the turp into the clean jar or can until it begins to look dirty by pulling the sediment off the bottom of the turp jar.
Wearing gloves, nest several plastic shopping bags inside each other to avoid any leaks.  I sometimes put old newspaper in the bottom to soak up the muddy turp sludge.

Avoid shaking the jar so it does not splatter.  Using paper towel or tissues, remove the coil or wire basket from the turp jar.  Wipe clean putting all tissues in the bags.

Clean the turp jar the same way.  Once the turp jar is clean, dispose all rags, tissues and gloves in the same bags and tie shut.  Dispose of in the trash outside to avoid fumes in the house or studio.

Now you can pour the "cleaner turp" you took off the top back into the clean turp jar. 
Add enough new turp to cover the coil or basket by about 1/2"

The turp should not be any deeper as it will be too deep for most brushes and eventually damage the handle.

With your master supply list, take inventory of your mediums, tissues, gloves and turpentine. 
Don't forget to look for retouch varnish as well as final varnish for finished dry paintings.

Is your sketch book in good shape?  Is there room for plenty of new ideas?  How about your pencils and favorite sketching mediums?  Do you have a nice bag for keeps all these in a neat package and ready to go out in the sunshine for a great sketching experience this spring?

I sure hope so!  Nothing feeds the spirit like a quiet 15 minutes outside making a quick sketch of something that catches your eye... and heart!

Note, make sure all your supplies bags have your name and cell number on them.  You never know when you might leave them behind or join others who use the same brand names.


Get your palette box ready with a new disposable palette pad.  Take the cover off and put the ENTIRE pad into the box.  If you use one sheet, it will slide around and fold up making a huge mess!

Use pop-up tissues!!!  Having to stop to tear off a paper towel is a real mood-breaker. 
 Rags?  Only as a last resort.  Always move them out at the end of each paint session!  
They can be a fire hazard.

Buy all needs as they come on sale.  If your life would be lost without your paint supplies, keep extra in inventory.  You never know when that trip to the beach will happen so quickly that buying supplies would be inconvenient!

 This year I cleaned out my trusty old tackle box.  There were years of dust and leaves in the bottom.

Now that everything is clean and neat, I have a new confidence that I am sooo ready to paint!

My folding stool is in the car along with my plein air easel.  My hat is always in the back seat so bring on the sunshine, I am ready to paint!!

 What are we waiting on?

The nursing home does not do beach trips to paint !

Please invite your friends to join my blog.  

Who knows, you may gain a really great paint buddy in the deal!

Thank you!!!

And now, I am off to my favorite studio... the world of nature!

Love it!!