What is being prepared? Well, it starts with your studio or studio space. Here are some tips for the basics. You'll want:
A good table – room for artwork, specimen, materials and papers to coexist during painting. make sure the table height combined with your chair heights puts your eyes comfortably on your specimens and paper.
A great chair, with lumbar support, that allows you to have your feet flat on the ground comfortably, working in a balanced position. It's incredible how making sure the ergonomics of chair and table are perfect decreases fatigue!A great light. You'll want to arrange for great ambient light through window, Solartube or skylights, with no "hotspots" to interfere with good vision. You'll also want spot lighting, to light your specimens for great depth understanding, and to light your paper for great color work. Look for a balanced light that mimics north light.
Know what you have – an inventory plan. It's always good to know what you have on hand, know what you need. So:
Inventory your materials and supplies.
Know what you need – Make a quick list of all you don't have.
Check out sales for the things you do need, and buy in bulk when you can. If you know you'll use up brushes during the year, keep an eye out for brush sales, especially in January and February.
What if you have all your materials and supplies gathered, a good spot selected to work in with perfect lighting, and you're still not achieving? Try finding out what really is stopping you.
Define “stoppers’ – Figuring out reasons why you haven't achieved what you've wanted in a day goes a long way to insuring you'll get past that "stopper" to achieve more the next time you're in the studio. Think of it like this: Say to yourself: I’d have painted/sketched/drawn today, but I am out of/don’t have ____________________. That's an inventory problem usually. Get what you need.
Or, “When I paint, I need the right music, but I don’t have it handy.” That's an equipment failure, if there's no way to play the music/video/movie that provides the right background for your work. Fix the problem immediately.
Or, "This painting is so intimidating, but it's working out, I think. It's so hard to put the first brush stroke down." That's a confidence problem Always have a practice piece to work on to limber up your skills, just as a musician plays scales before any work starts.
Promise yourself time to paint, first thing in the day if possible: I find that we tend to try to get everything else in our lives done BEFORE we paint. Reverse that. Paint first, for an hour or two, or even just 15 minutes if that's what you have. You'll thank yourself for doing so.
Looking for supplies and materials? Search by phrase, rather than specific item. For example, try “cheap art supplies” as opposed to "watercolor brushes." Craft stores frequently have somewhat better pricing for one-off purchases - a single brush, one pan of watercolor, etc. Using a more open-ended search phrase will open up new vendors to you. Here are some places with neat tips about good studios:
Max Moss talks about his studio at Small Studios That Work.
Small Studios that work: Click here.
A quick tutorial for setting up a studio: Click here.
Lighting and other important bits: Click here.
Help for organizing your studio: Click here.
A great little easel for the botanical artist: Click here.
Well-priced drawing table and stool: Click here.
Do you have some tips and tricks you'd like to share for creating a great studio and work practice. Click here and send them to us. We'd love to see pictures of your studios, and words about how they work for you.