Course I needed a plan for gaining storage space and preserving painting space.  In order to gain desired work space, I would have to build in shelves to gain storage space. I figured if I could build frames and stretch canvas, I could build my shelves.  Luckily, I have a small 3’x4′ closet attached to the extra bedroom that was to become my studio. I plan to store all my immediate materials in the closet to decrease studio clutter and increase creative space.

I started calculating shelving dimensions to fit the majority of the art bins I already had loaded and waiting for a home.  I prefer to use clear storage bins or plastic drawer trays (like the ones made by rubbermade or sterilite).

Clear bin for paints.

Clear bin for paints.

Clear bins allow me to quickly take a visual inventory, access my supplies as well as know where I stored them.   I determined that shelving height could be no smaller than 12 1/2″ to allow for clearance during installation inside the closet. This height neatly allowed for the larger art bins.  I salvaged the leftover pieces to make a smaller 6″ shelf perfect for the smaller stuff.

I double checked my measurements for the right and left side of the closet walls.  I sketched out my plans and set to prepping, priming, painting, and installing the shelves. I used primed and painted 1×12″ pine boards for weight distribution and easily clean up spilled paint.  I used 1×2’s and 1x3s for support bracing.  After a few days work I have completed the shelves and was ready to sort and store the last of my art supplies. 🙂

shelving installed.

shelving installed.

Yes, I am pretty proud of my work.  The only tools I needed was a chop saw, drill, wood tapping screws, lumber and paint, my brain and a bit of math.  All
It will soon be time to paint, next…Lights!

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New place, New space.

July 7, 2013

A new place offers a clean slate for setting up a working studio.  New studio means new space layout.  I am lucky enough to have a spare bedroom with a decent sized west window and an attached sink.  Well, it will have to do.

However, starting with a blank room is a bit more of a challenge than anticipated.  I have nearly twenty years worth of art supplies, a large easel, art taboret, drafting table and assorted materials.  I had to purge quite a lot of it in the move.  Everything I had deemed necessary was boxed and promptly stacked in my studio.

More studio boxes.

More studio boxes.

In the new studio space I did not have existing storage of any kind to begin organizing any of it.  I spent most of a month unpacking and re-evaluating the remainder of my supplies.  Equal time was spent considering the best way to store my materials.  More importantly, supply accessibility and ease for future painting or framing or whatever.  Many nights were spent researching studio storage options.

One of the most important tools for an artist is a working Studio.  The studio is a designated space for facilitating the creation of their preferred art.  I quickly realized I needed to prioritize what I would need in my studio.  I am a painter, thus, establishing primary paint space, primary medium, and secondary work space is important.  First, I need space. Good clean space to process and work through my paintings, large and small.  Second, I need good lighting.  Lighting temperatures effect the true color (hue) and value of paint.  Third, I need storage, to keep all my materials and tools accessible.

setting up new studio.

setting up new studio.

I was sure that I wanted to maximize storage and grow room while preserving the top half of the walls for working space for paintings and/or drawings. Yes, IKEA always offers storage options.  But considering I have a tight budget and am somewhat more limited in finding what I need.  I quickly realized with a blank studio, I just might have to engineer some of the things I was envisioning to make my studio effective.

I have tools. Challenge accepted!

All In Boxes…

July 3, 2013

Someone recently asked me to describe the last 3 months of my life.  “All in boxes” pretty much sums it up.

It is no secret that we recently moved to a new house.  The past three months, my painting process has been pretty much boxed up as well.  I have been frustrated wanting to “do something” and then realizing that it was under the dust and debris of stacked boxes, packing materials and more dust.  The garage which usually functioned as my creative studio space, had become the storage and staging zone for all of the packing materials, which of course did not fit inside the house.  All my studio and painting materials had been packed up awaiting the “Big Move”.  I did reserve my plein-air easel and a small amount of paint and brushes for paint outs. Though, free time proved even rarer event with all the packing, construction deadlines, or work and family needs.

Everyone thinks “new studio, exciting!  Ha, I think, “Crap, where am I going to store all of it?”
I want to actually work without having to invest creative energy into cleaning up my studio just so I can paint.   Which generally happens in the garage space and results in poor painting quality if any at all.  Over whelming to say the least.  Moving my studio has proved to be quite the undertaking.  Thanks, to a few good friends and my weekly yoga, and more than month later I managed to breathe through it.

Logically, with such a big move, all my studio and painting stuff had to move as well.  But what was I really going to need and use in the new studio.  Everyone I asked that had a home studio suggested I would need lots of storage, good light, and work space.  The first challenge was to get it all reduced down from what was a 2 car garage space to a single spare bedroom.

Garage studio space.

Garage studio space.

I intended to keep and store paints, paint surfaces, drawing materials and basic framing equipment.  I reduced my studio supplies to the primary materials.  I was giving up many of the old shelves and storage b/c they would not fit or move.   This forced another purge of inferior art I had produced over the past few years during my fast paced graduate classes. It actually took most of 3 weekends to eventually pack up the studio and another day of realizing it was futile to try to keep the crap work for later resurrection.
Purging proved just as stress full to realize  the pile of painting failures, I intended “to fix” someday was larger than I intended.     (Little voice in my head repeats its mantra” not failures, learning cycles”).  I did not need to preserve them for future sales.  I had practiced the intended lesson.  I could move on.  Don’t worry, I still have plenty more to work on and eventually sale.
Yes, purging is good for art growth.  It can be very emotional if you don’t have a good friend to help you separate all the stuff from the precious and best.  It can definitely leave room for many more painting projects, big and small.

The next few blog posts will feature stages of sorting out my studio.

Catching Painted Skies

July 13, 2012

Catching painted skies!
Well it has been a busy summer thus far.  Already into July here in Texas, and I’ve found little time for my blog.  But with the summer adventures come summer fireworks and we have been lucky to welcome summer storms and much-needed rain.

sweeping storm reference.

I get to welcome the added advantage of ever-changing skies.   The skies change rapidly in color and shape as the winds sweep the fronts along.  So one should always be ready with the friendly camera, timing and a bit of luck to catch rapid changes.   Add in the cooling temps and rhythm of spattering rain you have all the ingredients for great paintings.  Not to mention any excuse to paint purple skies is a welcome playful palette.
Love it!

Storm front at Sunset.

Last week brought unplanned packing and traveling. But I remembered my clever Easy-L paint box and was able to pop in a few paintings even while on the road.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not as easy or stress free as it should be.  But I did manage to find a southern window, added a spectrum lamp small adjustable office chair (from the office) and started about to mixing my limited palette.  5 values of gray, + cerulean, alizarin, cadmium red light, lemon yellow, and violet mixture for my shadows.

I focused on the simple movement and shapes of the clouds for the first 5×7. I intentionally minimized the warmer landmass to balance against the vast cooler sky mass.

Storm Sweeper. 5×7 2012_07_07

In the second 5×7, I was working on layering and rolling the edges and shadows of the clouds.   The challenge was moving from warm sun kissed edges of sunset to the softer violets in the underside.

Sky Fish, Sunset Storm. 5×7. #2012_07_08

It’s funny what the eyes record and the brain registers.  Some where along the way it evolved in a credible Sky Fish painting.

 

New Paint! New paintings…

February 11, 2012

New Paint!

New Paint has arrived!

A new year has started and is moving along.  It’s already into February of our New Year here with our colder winter spell too. I have been stealing time in my studio as weather temps permit, since my studio is in the garage. It’s currently nearly 50 degrees out there.  So it takes a bit of time to get it comfortable to work out there. Paint has a happy temp for optimum working conditions, and below 50 degrees is not it.

Between cold spells I plan the next stage of paintings and continue to push on new projects currently underway here in the studio. But that growth requires more supplies.  Thus More Paint!  I have officially moved onto ordering the super tubes in hopes of making it through the bigger projects.

Hamilton Pools *BIG Sky* stage 1

My BIG project for Hamilton Pools is well underway. Notice I have the smaller 18″x36″ painting study above the panels here for comparison.

It's going to be this BIG!

By BIG, sort of, I mean a 3foot by 6foot painting.  And yet, sometimes it’s not quite big enough to relate the magnitude and majesty of a Texas sized treasure. Yet with all large paintings larger quantities of paint are required.  Mixing the calculated colors and values are again a critical part of paint consistency.  Matching values changes ensures the ability to relate visual atmosphere and depth of such a large project.

Hamilton Pool *Big Rocks* stage 2

Stay tuned to watch the growth of this painting project.  Time to catch up, lots to do here. Will post more later.

Plein and Simple

November 9, 2011

Yes, Plein and Simple Painting can be just as fun.

This past Sunday I met up with other painters out at Westlake Beach here in Austin.  I decided that I would simplify my painting materials for this trip since I had invited my family to join me and didn’t want all the added burden of my larger plein air palette pack.  That’s a side satchel that weighs about 8-10lbs when packed.  And there was the possible weather to consider as well with 40% rain expected and an early setting sun as well.

So my solution was simple. I grabbed my Homee watercolor palette a few sheets of paper and my sketch book.  It offered a wide range of available color in a clean transport and manageable in a tight spots.  It also allowed me to quickly adapt to my subjects as the light changed.

water color travel palette

Westlake beach is small, but neatly nestled at the base of the hills on the south side of the lake created by the dam below.

South View

It also offered a stretch of grass and covered picnic tables to host our picnic.  Not to mention offered a dry spot between the rain spells.  Yes, you will endure painting in the rain when you have had little rain in the past year.  It was much welcomed to see the stormy sky line. The changing weather offered interesting play of lights and the setting sun broke through the moving clouds to guild the distant hills along the water.  I was glad to have my watercolors for a change.  However I think I will add a few bull-dog clips to clamp my paper and prevent unwanted kites as the wind picks up.

Westlake Watercolors South View. 2011.11.05 size5x7.

Not bad for a quick little outing.

 

 

Tools of the Trade.

August 25, 2011

Funny thing about us Artists, there’s not much we won’t try to do. We are generally a jack of all trades, an expert in a few, and crazy enough to say why not?

This weeks adventures resulted in a glass tiled kitchen back splash.

Tiling projects require lots of math checking.

Today’s project was a more “labored” sort of project in the Home Improvement. I was helping lay out tiles for a friends kitchen.  Lots of people take on these sort of DIY projects every weekend. There are lots of YouTube demos and TV episode showing what to do. But It’s funny to consider how much real math goes into doing just that.  Once in a blue moon everything adds or divides up evenly with little headaches.  But most often you encounter something that just doesn’t work like you planned. It’s Murphy’s Law.  So then you have to resort to a bit of imagination to solve the problem with grace and elan.  Easier said than done.

Turns out, it’s a good thing I’m a fearless artist, and I know how to cut glass, measure and divide fractions, and remembered to bring along my trusty bucket of favorite tools. Inside it you can find a small level, framer’s square, shims, box cutter, chisel, putty knife, trusty cordless drill, 2 pairs of work gloves, vice clamps and safety glasses.  There are other items in there, but can’t recall everything off the top of my head.  Having access to a Dremel tool and pastry bag made it even better.  The Dremel cuts glass tiles very well with a steady hand.  The Pastry bag pipes small spots of thin set into tight spots the trowels just won’t go.

The trick is a willingness to learn something new, apply the knowledge you have, put some time and thought into it and you usually end up with something pretty darn good.   Yes, I’m bragging a bit.  But it really comes down to knowing your tools and how to best use what you have to do the best job.

So here is some thoughts for those thinking about a career as an artist or contractor… know your math.

Each year I hear these questions along with why are you an artist?  That much like asking Why do you breathe?

  • What do you do?  I create / make stuff.  I just have to do that. 
  • What materials do you use? Depends on the project and scale of the job.  But I have several buckets of tools for various projects. One for Framing art. One for house projects and several more for specific to each Art area I work in.
  • What did you have to learn?  That’s a bit harder to answer, see I have lots of applied knowledge (learned).  I have to know lots of math, fractions, proportions, some chemistry, more science, history, more color theory, basic construction, basic mechanic principles, economics, book-keeping, marketing, computer programs & languages, and researching. I’m sure I missed something in there.
    • Just when I think I have it together the game changes and I find myself heading back to the books.
  • What is the most important parts to my process / career?

Imagination, Discovery, Planning, Education and believe it or not lots of Math!