This week I placed an art supplies order for several canvases (including 5 very large ones), paint, brushes, and lots of watercolour paper. My studio is only small and when the order arrived it was in a complete mess. There was barely any floor space left to stand on with paperwork and files haphazardly piled everywhere, and so the time seemed right to have a massive clean and tidy. I needed to reorganise the entire space so that I could store the new art materials, do a quick inventory of the older ones, and start afresh. I have an incredibly busy couple of months coming up, and trying to work in a messy, chaotic studio just makes things even harder. I'm one of those people who feels so much better in clean and organised surroundings, but somehow it always takes a while for me to get around to actually doing something about it. It feels so good when I finally do, though! As I stepped into the studio this morning, it was lovely to know that everything was where it should be, and that I now have more space in which to work efficiently. It also occurred to me that this was the perfect time to take some photos and share my workspace with you! I love taking a glance behind the scenes at other artists' studios, so I hope you'll enjoy this little 'studio tour' - and just bear in mind that it doesn't always look as tidy as this!
This is the desk where I work on any paintings on paper, painted stones etc., basically anything fairly small. I recently bought a little radio for the studio (a special edition Pure Evoke decorated with Rob Ryan artwork - I love it!). It sits on the desk, which is actually the Bjursta dining room table from Ikea. It's extendable and I usually have it fully extended, but if I need a little more room in general in the studio, I can push the 'leaves' in. I've found Ikea great for studio furniture; the metal cupboard/cabinet on the right is from the PS range, and it's crammed full of stuff that would otherwise be cluttering up the studio! I've found that I need so much storage; hence the little fabric containers on the cabinet as well as the baskets and storage boxes you can see under the table and on the floor. This has been essential for me in trying to keep the studio organised - if everything has its proper place it makes life so much easier, and it just looks a million times better than having it all out on display.
You can also never have enough pretty jars, mugs or pots to put your brushes, pens and scissors in! The same goes for fabric pouches - just stash it all away! The little vintage style chalkboard you can see propped up behind the radio came from Paris; just one of many items I treasure because of the happy memories it brings back from my special time with Leon and the fun outings we used to have.
I'm often asked about the art materials I use and whether I have any favourites. To be honest, I tend to use a lot of different brands - as long as they're good quality I don't mind which brand they are! I started using Lefranc & Bourgeois gouache because I couldn't buy my usual Winsor & Newton paint in Paris, and I love it! I now use about four different brands and they seem to mix well. The little wooden storage box with drawers (also an Ikea purchase!) that you can see on my desk houses all of the tubes of watercolour and gouache paints, as well as bottles of acrylic ink.
On the other side of the room I have my easel beside the window; this is where I work on all of the canvas paintings, and I always think of it as my 'messy painting' area - that's why there's a large rug covering the floor! This way it doesn't matter if paint drips on the floor, which it frequently does. The little table on wheels - also from the Ikea PS range - stores all of my acrylic paint and brushes. Pots and large tubes of the most used colours are on the top, with little trays underneath for many more tubes, organised by colour so I can easily see what I have. For acrylics I tend to stick to Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney, but I'm also using a couple of brands I picked up in Paris. I used to paint in oils but when I won an art award in London several years ago, I used my £500 prize to purchase some acrylic paints and I've been hooked ever since! Their quick-drying nature suits my style of painting as I tend to work in several thin layers, allowing the layers underneath to show through slightly as I work from dark to light. They're also great for adding areas of texture when applied with a palette knife. The Winsor & Newton easel was also purchased as part of my art award, so it will always be very special to me. By the way, can anyone spot a certain little cat who was determined to get into the shot? ;)
This seems to be Issey's favourite place - whenever she sneaks into the studio, she heads straight for the corner where I have a giant roll of bubblewrap, and settles down under the easel beside it. No studio is complete without a little furry friend keeping an eye on proceedings, right? :)
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