In The Studio: Starting Three New Small Works Of Mongol Race Horses

Mongol racehorse #1

I’ve started a series of three small paintings of Mongolian race horses and thought I’d share the step-by-step of doing more than one painting at a time. First up was to choose my reference photos, picking three heads that would work together in a group.

naadam race

I generally never post my reference images on the internet for obvious reasons, but in this case I wanted to show you the kind of photos I have to work with. The one above was taken at an aimag (province/state) naadam a couple of years ago. I was able to go out in the chase car for two races, so had a rare opportunity to shoot both stills and video not only as the jockeys, horses and trainers rode out to the starting point, but to travel parallel to the riders as they raced back. Looking through the many hundreds of race photos I’ve taken over the years I found a quite visible difference, which makes sense, in how fast the horses ran in the first part of the race and how much they’d slowed down by the last third or so. This really affected leg position and sense of the effort on the horse’s part as expressed in the body language.

But for this set of three I only wanted the heads, so was looking for variety in coloring, angle and generally interesting shapes of light and shadow. I started with drawings, thinking in terms of “notan” the Japanese method of simplifying an image down to two values….light and dark or light side/shadow side. I was also working on capturing the expression, the bridle and some of the shapes in the manes.

Mongol racehorse #2

I had originally intended to include the rider’s hands and legs in the frame, but those shapes seemed distracting, especially cut off at the edges, so right now my plan is to leave them out. But that could change…

Mongol racehorse #3

The top two pieces will be 8×8″. The one above will be 8×10″. So an arrangement of two squares with a rectangle between them.

The next step was to scan the drawings and project them onto the pre-toned canvas panels, sketching each one lightly with a pencil.

MR 1

The panels were toned with Winsor Newton raw sienna. I indicated all the shadow shapes with a mix of that and a little Winsor Newton violet dioxazine, which creates a warm brown tone that is still related to the background tone.

MR 2 (1).jpg

I scanned the panels with my Epson XP-830 printer/scanner/copier and then imported them into Photos for cropping, color correction and any other adjustments. This works pretty well for small pieces that I want to post to my blog or other social media.

MR 3.jpg

I like working this way because it gives me a lot of control over how much detail I add and where. I also like to leave “lost and found” shapes. What is important to me, though, is accuracy of both the horses and their tack, not detail per se. For me the game is to see how much I can simplify and leave out.

 

In The Studio: New Paintings!

"Mongol Horses" oil 14x18"
“Mongol Horses”  oil  14×18″

I’ve had a number of new paintings in progress for quite awhile now. Last week I finally, really got back to the easel and finished up what amounts to a new body of work. They are all part of an idea that I have been thinking about for the past few years and what I’ve been calling to myself my “New Direction” in which I focus on the animals as design elements, adding historic decorative symbols, motifs and patterns that are used in Mongolia. The very special element is “bichig”, the Mongolian vertical script that Chinggis Khan adapted from the alphabet of the Uighur people who allied with the Mongols rather than fighting them (which would have ended badly for them as they had seen for themselves).

I introduced my “New Direction” in a previous post in regard to doing repaints of older work, using “Friends” as an example, in which I added a border around what had been a plain background.

'Friends" oil 18x24"
“Friends”  oil  18×24″

One of the ideas that has had me excited about this new work is to go through my reference and find images that, properly cropped, had a strong design. So this one of an otherwise fairly non-descript brown horse became much more interesting. And it was fun to paint!

"Scratching" oil 14x18"
“Scratching”  oil  14×18″

For this one I used the Mongolian word for “scratching” written out in bichig as the additional design element. I didn’t want it to detract from the horse, so kept the value contrast low while using a color that was related to the color of the horse.

"Two Takhi" oil 20x10"
“Two Takhi”  oil  20×10″ 

One of the things I wanted to get away from was putting animals in a realistic full landscape. My solution with “Two Takhi” was to use a traditional symbolic cloud motif for the sky and a simple color field of overlapping marks of warm and cool greens for “the ground”.  I kept the value contrast fairly low except for the horse’s heads. The vertical format let me focus on what was interesting in the reference…the shapes of the overlapping heads and forequarters of the two horses, takhi/Przwalski’s horses that I saw at Hustai National Park.

"Watching You" oil 12x24"
“Watching You”  oil  12×24″

This one was another that never quite made it after I originally “finished” it in 2012 and then set it aside . I added the longevity symbols to the plain background and now it works. I did a pretty thorough repaint on the horses, too. One of the things l love about working in oil is the ability to pull out an older piece, look at it, say “hey, I know how to fix that” and then do it. These horses were part of a good-sized herd I saw as we headed south towards the Gobi from Hustai in 2010. The flies were pretty bad so they kept moving around as one after another tried to get its head and body into the middle of the group. The painting above, “Friends”, came out of that same encounter and there will be more to come. The morning light was wonderful.

In The Studio: The Goldilocks Problem In Drawing

vulture
“Lappet-faced Vulture” Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Stathmore 400 cold press bristol

I’m sure there are artists out there who can happily grab whatever paper and drawing media they have at hand and get to it. I’m not one of them, at least not for my finished drawings that I will sell. And I’ve gotten pickier over the years. Every combination of paper and drawing media is different in feel, performance and result. Hence the comparison to Goldilocks. After a fairly major break for a variety of reasons, I’ve spent the last week or so getting back in the studio groove by revisiting a variety of combinations to see what is now “just right”.

I’m also planning to add human subjects back into to my oeuvre. It’s been awhile, so I collected a whole bunch of head shot photos from Google, many of movie stars because the lighting tends to be very good for revealing structure, dumped them into an Evernote and have started working from them, one feature at a time, starting with noses.

canson paper
Facial features: Derwent Drawing Pencil Venetian Red, Wolff’s Carbon Pencil 6B, Cretacolor Monolith Pencil 6B and Cretacolor Monolith Pencil, 4B on Canson Mi-Tientes drawing paper, smooth side. One thing I like about the darker toned papers in that you can come in with the lightest lights using a Prismacolor white pencil, as I did with the noses and the eye. This is a pretty typical work sheet for me. Nothing fancy, nothing at stake, just focusing on how the media feels on the paper, but also working to get the anatomy correct

I also worked on bits of other toned paper, but didn’t like what I ended up with. I do like the brown-tone though. I moved on to either white or off-white papers, mostly the two mentioned below.

nose
A famous nose- Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Strathmore 400 cold press bristol
noses
Two famous noses- Derwent Graphic pencils on Strathmore 400 cold press bristol

Both media worked well on the Strathmore, which has a fairly hard finish, but stiil with a bit of tooth. Back to animals….

Baboon
Baboon- Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Rives BFK paper (which has been a favorite for awhile)
fox, gazelle
Bat-eared fox, Derwent Venetian Red Drawing Pencil and baby impala, Cretacolor Monolith pencil on cream-colored Rives BFK paper

The Rives BFK is quite soft in comparison with the Strathmore. One nice thing about it is that one can erase it. A lot. Without a trace.

birds
I wanted to explore getting a very crisp line and also laying down a tone on the Rives BFK. As I expected, it passed wtih flying colors. I used the same pencils as mentioned above: Wolff’s Carbon Pencil for the hawk’s head and bird leg, Cretacolor Monolith for the murre, Derwent Drawing Pencil in Venetian Red for the yellowthroat and A Derwent Graphic pencil for the quick sketch of a pine siskin

The last one I did before writing this post is the drawing of the vulture at the top. It is available for purchase. Message me on my contact page for price.

In The Studio: Art Supplies For Field Work, Summer 2017

2017 art supplies

I’ve done a number of posts over the years covering the art supplies I use both here at home and also take to Mongolia (along with other gear) which you can see here for 2014 and here for 2015. If you check them out you’ll see that not much has changed.

2017 watercolors

The major upgrade this year is my new set of Yarka watercolors (top). The plastic box of my old well-loved one was getting brittle, cracking with pieces coming off. The new one, which holds 36 pans instead of 26 is definitely bigger but the price from Dick Blick was too good to pass up. The color try-outs at the top of the first photo are all the colors, a number of them new for me. Below the Yarka set is a Winsor & Newton travel set of 26 colors. I carry it because some of the colors, like the Payne’s Grey (which has a lovely cool blue tint), are quite different than the Yarka equivalents. The little set at the bottom is also from Winsor & Newton. I can slip it, a brush, my foldable water container (the purple cube near the upper right in the first photo), a 7×5″ Pentalic Nature Sketch multi-media sketchbook and the drawing tools in the Derwent brown cloth holder into the pockets of my Domke photographer’s vest and not have to worry about the day pack. So it’s all super light and portable.

For paper I take a 9×12″ Arches cold press block and a couple dozen loose 8×8″ pieces of Saunders Waterford cold press, which I tape to a small packing tape covered “portfolio” with drafting tape. The portfolio holds the finished watercolors and also some sheets of toned drawing paper. I also have a small Strathmore Wind Power sketchbook for doing preliminary value studies and composition sketches.

2017 case

To carry my brushes, I have a lovely zip case that I got at Cass Art in London a couple of years ago.

2017 brushes

Inside are a variety of brands of brushes that have accumulated over the years, including Cass Art rounds, a flat and a bright; a Jack Richeson 9000 Signature Series round and flat; some Robert Simmons Sapphire rounds, flat and angled flat; the newest addition is a Gray Matters  round from Jack Richeson; a couple of Stephen Quiller Richeson Professional flats; and a Robert Simmons One Stroke flat.

I also carry a good selection of Derwent water soluble colored pencils (top photo, lower left), which can be wetted with the water brushes I carry in my drawing kit. The drawing media and the colored pencils fit nicely into these zip cases from Global Art Materials and I really like them.

2107 drawing stuff

For drawing, from left to right above: Cretacolor Monolith graphite pencils, which are pure graphite with a thin coating of lacquer. They come in HB to 9B. Next is a Prismacolor white colored pencil since I take some toned paper with me. Then I have two Derwent Drawing Pencils in Venetian Red. They draw very nicely on the Pentalic Nature Sketch paper. I take at least two since they’re pretty soft and can get used up fairly quickly. Next is a General’s Draughting Pencil and then a sandpaper pad. I also have a retractable Exacto knife and a Swiss army knife for sharpening if the Maped handheld sharpener isn’t enough. The silver pencils are Derwent Watersoluble Graphitone pencils. Yes. Watersoluble graphite. I use the 2B, 4B and 6B. They’re wrapped in paper which can be peeled off for a larger surface area. They are also somewhat brittle and should be handled with care. I have a variety of brands of water brushes, but the reservoirs of most are too long for the case. I take a set of three Sakura Koi brushes which were the first ones I bought and one of the first on the market. At the end is a paper stump for blending. Above the water brushes is a small cut open plastic bag that holds a couple of kneaded rubber erasers. It’s taped to the inside of the case. This was a temporary hack that turned out to work just fine.

Not shown is my Moleskine sketch journal. It’s where I keep a diary of my trips and also draw and sketch using Sakura Micron pens. You can see my 2015 Mongolia journal and the art here.

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In The Studio: 2017 North Coast Open Studios!

studio 2
Local treats….Cypress Grove cheeses “Humboldt Fog” and “Truffle Temor” and the lcoally famous Lacey’s cookies, the dark chocolate and almond version

I’m open right now for North Coast Open Studios! Nice turnout this morning and early afternoon, including one woman who has been interested in the Przewalski’s horse/takhi since she was s child. I was able to share with her not only photos but video that I shot at Khomyn Tal in 2015.

studio 1
Propanels with a selection of my paintings and drawings
studio 3
My beloved Hughes Easel with my two newest argali paintings.

It’s a rainy day, which is great for the garden.

garden 1

garden 3

garden 2

If you live in Humboldt County, the event continues through tomorrow. Over one hundred artists have opened their studios. Find some near you here.

In The Studio: New Work In A New Style!

Ikh Nart Argali Ram #3
Ikh Nart Argali #3  oil  20×24″

It’s been twenty years since I began painting in oil. Before then I was a graphic designer/illustrator and before that I worked as a sign painter for a local shop, starting at age 22 in 1976. Along the way I also did calligraphy, messed with typography and developed a great fondness for historic decorative styles like medieval and celtic illumination and art nouveau. All of them gradually fell by the wayside as I focused on gaining competency as an oil painter who specialized in animals. But those interests were always lurking out there, sometimes with a feel of longing. But then it was back to the easel. However, a few years ago I started to toy with how I might bring some of that back into my work. I let it perk as I did three exhibitions in four years, the final one being last March, the “Wildlife Art: Field to Studio” group show in Connecticut. With time and mental space available at last, I realized that, for the time being, I’d said all I wanted to say about representing animals in realistic habitats/backgrounds.

I started to seriously work on what a new direction would be. What elements would it include? I wanted to emphasize pure design more and include decorative elements and calligraphy. For the former I would draw on my fifteen years of experience as a freelance graphic designer. For the other two I still have my library of reference books and I knew, starting with my second trip to Mongolia in 2006, that the vertical Uigher script that Chinggis Khan chose for the Mongols was still taught in the schools, used in advertising and had also become a respected and breathtaking art form.  I have experience in brush lettering, but wasn’t sure that I wanted to try to learn “bichig”, which would require finding a teacher in Ulaanbaatar.

Peaceful
“Peaceful”  oil  18×24″ (lettering design-Bichig Soyol)

The solution to the lettering came last year at the end of the 4th WildArt Mongolia Expedition. Our guide, Batana, has a son who is a budding artist. When told about me he said he wanted to meet me. So one evening I and the two other participants were invited to dinner at Batana’s home. I met his son and looked through his work, which was very, very good for a self-taught fifteen year old. Before leaving Batana surprised us each with a gift, our names written out in bichig.

I came home and started thinking again about my “new direction” as I had come to call it. And it occurred to me that I now knew of a Mongolian calligrapher with whom I had a mutual contact. Batana and I had become friends on Facebook, so I messaged him to ask if his calligrapher friend would be interested in writing out some words for me. The answer came back “yes”. We worked out a price per word. I made up a list of ten and sent them to Batana. Within 48 hours I had ten large jpg images in my inbox. They were wonderful! I ended up getting two more batches of ten, so I have thirty words in bichig now and will be getting more. There was the matter of payment. My tour company, for whom the calligrapher, who uses the nom de guerre “Bichig Soyol” on Facebook, had worked in the past, was kind enough to let me do a credit card charge on their website. Then they called him and he came to the office to pick up the cash.

I was going to be going to the Susan K. Black Foundation workshop in Dubois, Wyoming in September and decided to try to have a couple new works for show there. The first one still needs some re-working, so this is the first finished piece in my new style.

Foal
“Foal”  oil 9×12″ (lettering design-Bichig Soyol)

Part of what drove me was the realization that my interest and passion is animals. To put them in a habitat means that, generally and by far, most of the painting will be landscape, not animal. And at this point, I want to focus on them. My new approach will let me use any and as much landscape as I want. Or none.

I’m taking my inspiration for the non-animal colors from landscape photos I’ve taken in Mongolia over the years. I have albums in Photos for “Warm”, “Cool” and Warm/cool” images. I’ve also got albums for design elements from monasteries, gers, patterns and symbols. I can mix and match all these elements as I wish. So now I’ve pulled all the threads together….animals, design, decorative motifs and lettering. And am I ever having fun!

Argali IArgal)
Argali Horns  oil  13×28″ (lettering design- Bichig Soyol)

In The Studio: Why Is An Animal Artist Doing Drapery Studies?

Michaelangelo
Study from Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel figure of the prophet Isaiah

And the answer is: I’ve started a new painting which is part of a new direction I’m experimenting with, which is all I’ll say for now. One of them involves using a khadag, the traditional Mongolian offering scarf, as a design element. I haven’t done drapery since art school. I set up a khadag that I brought back and did some drawings from it, but could tell that I really didn’t understand what I was looking at or how to get where I wanted to go. Drapery has a structure and pattern and I just wasn’t seeing it with any confidence. Time to get out the art books and do some copywork from the masters. Who better to learn from? And I’ll do as many as it takes to get it. I was also able to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last month when I was in New York for the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. I focused on getting photos (with my iPhone 5S) of drapery details and I’ll be drawing from those next. But today I want to share what I was able to do working an “old-fashioned” way…from books.

Besides my immediate goal of learning to draw drapery again myself it was fascinating, through the copywork, to see how these artists solved the problems, some very naturalistically and some by simplifying with more stylistic handling.

The Michaelangelo copy above was the last one I did and took the better part of a day. It’s about 8×10″. I was working on technique along with creating the actual drawing.

All are done with Cretacolor Monolith pencils on either Canson drawing paper or Strathmore 400 with added help from a kneaded eraser that definitely got a work out.

Isiah
Fresco painting detail by Michaelangelo, Sistine Chapel

Below is the first one I tried. Notice that there are basically three values and some color temperature shifts. Get those relationships correct and you have…satin!

David
Sleeve detail by Jacques-Louis David

I wanted to start with a simple shape that had well-defined folds. And I was very curious to see a little of how David saw, given his great academic training and skill. I have some good details from one of his paintings at the Met that I’m looking forward to drawing.

David Horus (1)
Neckline fold detail from “The Oath of the Horatii” by Jacques-Louis David

I specifically wanted to draw that neckline fold and the overlapping folds coming over the shoulder because they relate to the design I have for the khadag.

Cornwell D
Garment details by Jacques-Louis David (left) and Dean Cornwell (right and middle)
Cornwell sash
Sash detail by Dean Cornwell

My study is above right. I wanted to understand how the sash drapped around the form.

Cornwell sleeve
Sleeve detail by Dean Cornwell

My study is lower left above. I wanted to get that feeling of the thickness of the fabric coming over the arm.

Cornwell fold
Coat detail by Dean Cornwell

Small drawing in the middle of the page above.

Cornwell had an interesting way of simplifying drapery and it’s a characteristic of his style. I remember one of my drawing teachers in art school doing a slide show of master drawings. When she got to the Cornwell, she matter-of-factly told us that if we could do a drawing like that we would get an “A”. We just kind of looked at each and thought “Yeah, well, in our dreams”. Ultimately, I realized that his approach, at least at this point, wasn’t going to be useful to me for what I want to do.

Leyendecker
Gown and sleeve details
Leyebdecker
Gown detail by J.C. Leyendecker
Leyendecker sleeve
Sleeve detail by J. C. Leyendecker

J.C. Leyendecker was another master stylist, instantly recognizable. Notice that I’m showing the work of two illustrators, along with traditional fine artists. That’s because the great illustrators were simply great artists and their drafting and design skills were impeccable. Plus, that’s my background since my formal art training was in illustration so I “speak” that language.

Through copying some of his work I hoped to understand better how to simplify and understand what I had to have to say “fold” and leave out everything else. Artists like Michaelangelo, David and, as you’ll see, Velasquez had a more naturalistic approach, but still edited and made choices, each in his own way. And the sum total of those choices is one of the ways a viewer can tell one artist from another.

The gown detail was challenging because every shape and its relationship to the other shapes had to be just right in order to read as drapery. By the time I decided to tackle the sleeve I felt that I was starting to get the hang of things and also to gain a little insight into his thinking through the choices he made in a way that would not be possible by just looking at the art.

Velasquez (1)
Head drape detail
Velasquez
Head drape by Velasquez

If one wants to learn from the best then you have to take on Velasquez, one of the best ever, a painter’s painter. And that ended up being a bit of a problem. When I looked through my book of the artist’s work I didn’t really find a lot in terms of drapery that would help me with what I was trying to do. I found his shapes, when looked at individually, to be idiosycratic in a way made them very abstract. It’s a very different way of seeing than I do. But what a great thing to learn. I am in awe of him as are so many others. I plan to start doing some human subjects and when it comes to heads and hands I will be returning to him for both drawing and painting study.

So that’s what I was up to last week. This week I’m back at the easel doing some repaints on small works, both to get my groove back and to build up stock for North Coast Open Studios, which I will be doing the first two weeks in June. More on that to come!

In The Studio: 20 Things To Do When You Can’t Be Because You’re Sick…

P for blog
Peregrin, our ten month old rough collie boy, demonstrates excellent RESTING  technique

I’ve been down with a chest cold for a week, so no studio time. I’ve mostly rested, but when I’ve felt like it I’ve done a few things like clean out my inbox, catch up on some reading and, of course, dorked around on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitter has been great because reading in 144 character bites doesn’t require sustained focus and attention. I also poked around on Facebook, joined a bunch of art groups and last night, finally feeling halfway decent again, started one…The Art of Animal Fieldwork…an area of  the animal art genre that no one is addressing effectively (there are a couple of groups that purport to be about fieldwork, but the Admins appear to be MIA and the group feeds are cluttered with a lot of bad studio art, personal promos, etc). You can check it out here. Nice to feel that I’ve managed to Do Something Useful, even in my reduced state.

Today is my weekly blog day and the theme is “In The Studio”, which I haven’t been since last Friday. So instead I’m going to give you a list of 10 ideas for things you can do when you’re sick if you don’t have a computer or tablet handy and 10 for if you do.

The most important thing, though is to REST. The better you take care of yourself the sooner you can get back to work. On to the lists:

IF YOU’RE HAVE A COMPUTER OR TABLET:

1. Research art galleries

2. Futz with a drawing or painting app

3. Clean out your email folders/mailboxes

4. Clean out and organize your folders

5. Visit art museum sites

6. Treat yourself to a new art-related book that’s downloadable for instant gratification

7. Check out art-related YouTube videos or movies

8. Find new artists to follow, groups to join on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

9. Find new art blogs to follow

10. Start a collection of art quotes

IF YOU’RE NOT ON A COMPUTER OR TABLET:

1. Read an art-related book that you haven’t gotten around to

2. Browse through some of your art books

3. Make a list of places you want to go (sky’s the limit; be crazy; Mars anyone?)

4. Plan out a painting in your head in as much detail as possible

5. Browse an art supply catalog and make a wish list; include one media you’ve never tried before

6. Get a pad of paper and pencils/pens and doodle painting ideas or draw a pet or whatever is in the room

7. Make a list of the artists you’ve heard of but don’t know anything about

8. Think about how to make your studio a better workplace

9. If you blog, jot down post ideas

10. Get out a stack of reference photos and do notan studies (http://blog.mitchalbala.com/the-wisdom-of-notan/)

And get well soon!

 

 

The Art Life: Storage

drawing-stuff
Drawing media and watercolor brushes stored in a variety of containers and organized in one unit of a stackable inbox

I don’t necessarily consider myself a neat and tidy person. But when it comes to my work, I’ve gotten borderline fanatical about having everything sorted and organized. I don’t want an idea to strike or find I need to have “x” right now for whatever I’m working on and have to break concentration and hunt around for it.

I’ve been in my current studio space at our home for over ten years now, using a couple of IKEA cupboards for supplies and some thin plywood boxes with dowel dividers my husband made for me years before that for canvas and painting storage. The IKEA units are doing great, the old canvas “racks” were well past their sell-by date. So a few years ago we were able to hire a contractor who was also a cabinet maker to build new storage units from birch plywood to my specifications. What a luxury! But also practical and financially sensible because properly stored paintings and canvases (I use RayMar geesoed cotton canvas boards almost exclusively) are less likely to get damaged. Plus we live in earthquake country. Every cupboard, cabinet and bookcase is attached to studs in the walls.

Come take a tour of how I store my art supplies and equipment…

supplies-and-canvas-boards

These units are in the northwest corner of the studio. On the left is an IKEA cupboard which contains all my supplies that aren’t in use. The top shelf holds greeting and notecard inventory in, yes, IKEA boxes. Next is a variety of containers. The next three shelves are drawing media, brushes, varnishes, odds and ends. Second from the bottom is paper for printing. And at the bottom are old sketchbooks.  All the way on top is a speaker.

On the right is one of the custom storage units, designed to hold paintings up to 5×5′. The top two shelves have miscellaneous things that don’t fit anywhere else. The bottom holds all my oversize paintings and canvasboards. The curtain, just an old one I had around, is to minimize dust.

On the south wall of my studio are four units ranged next to each other:

cupboards

These are two side-by-side IKEA cupboards. The one on the right, starting at the top, is blank sketchbooks, then small canvasboards and some stretched canvases with a gallery wrap so I don’t have to frame them.  Second from the bottom are canvas pads and oil paper pads, a few small toned canvases and my watercolor papers. On the bottom is my plein air carry-all, a plein air panel box and some large size drawing pads.

The left cabinet holds my old paintbox I’ve had since I was a kid, a pochade box from the Sennilier art supply shop in Paris, more plein air carriers, then various paper towels and brush holders, finished small works (see detail below). Next, drawings to be framed or referred to, below them a black plastic file organizer and binders for location watercolors and at the bottom old work framed and unframed. The two stacked boxes hold plein air oils.

small-works

This is the middle shelf of the cabinet on the left. I’ve used cardboard drawing pad backing for dividers, labeling them with a Sharpie, to separate and organize old paintings from workshops, projects, preliminary studies, in-progress repaints, available for sale, etc.

paintings

And here are the closed cupboards above on the left, next to my frame and painting storage units on the right. Of those, the one on the left mostly has the frames. It was designed to fit over my steel flat files. The one to the right of it is pretty much all paintings except for some big manila folders at the top right which hold working and finished drawings and next to them about a half dozen framed giclees. All the shelves are adjustable.

painting-table

Finally, here’s my painting table set up and ready to go. I clean the palette off on Friday afternoons and put the paint into one of those paper-lined round storage containers. My current palette is a leftover piece of Swanstone countertop. I got the idea from the Underpaintings online magazine some years ago. I like it because it’s a neutral color, it’s not reflective and once a film builds up on to a certain point, my husband is kind enough to sand it off for me. It’s the same color all the way through. As you can see I have an eclectic collection of containers for brushes, pencils, etc. Some are souvenirs of our travels, like the fish pitcher, which I got at a Debenham’s department store in London, England. I also like interesting coffee mugs with or without broken handles.

So there you have it, how one artist organizes her work life. If you have any ideas or want to share what you do, please leave a comment!