‘Commandeer‘: verb – to officially take possession of.
Once the children left ‘the nest’ I have been lucky enough to commandeer one of our bedrooms as a studio space.
This room has been re-jiggled many times to make it work for me with what I am currently doing but generally I am happy with it for what I want to do now. It is south-east facing which isn’t always great for working in the afternoons but I plan my time to work more in the mornings when I can and blinds help to reduce glare without limiting the light too much. I am currently working in this corner of the room as it gets the full glare of the sun later in mid afternoon which gives me a good working time in the early part of the day.
For my palette I am using glass which is great! It is actually a sealed, double-glazed window unit which I rescued from a skip so it is strong, the edges are sealed and not sharp and it gives me a large working area. Obviously it is heavy, but hey, it just sits there and that’s fine with me! I stand to work a lot of the time so the height is good, although I generally sit to mix colours if I am doing a few at the same time but I use a height adjustable office chair so I have no problems with posture etc.
Some of the things I really like about the glass palette, in addition to the large working area, is that the paint is really easy to move about and mix on it the paint doesn’t sink into the surface, and the palette is really easy to clean at the end of a session. I do sometimes have an issue with glare but the window blinds reduce this to minimal. If I have paint left from a session I simply cover it with cling film to reduce the oxidisation process so it remains workable for a couple of day (only).
I have a fairly large selection of brushes now, some really cheap and scratty but great for the way I work at times! I really love Rosemary & Co brushes and have started a collection of them, in particular the Ivory series.
Some of my brushes are short handled and some long. I know that some people prefer the long handled brushes to help promote looser, more fluid strokes. The main practical reason I have found a preference for the long handled ones is when using a mahl stick. As you can see my mahl stick is simply a 1cm diameter dowel which I can rest of parts of the easel (with a bit of careful positioning of things!) but I find it invaluable when needing to steady my hand.
I use Cobra water miscible paints – they were recommended by a painting friend and I am glad that I followed that recommendation as I really love their buttery consistency and the range of colours. I haven’t got a lot of experience yet with other makes to compare but these do what I want and I can easily source them on line. This paint only smells faintly of oil and I find it a pleasant odour. The other great thing is that brushes and palatte can be easily cleaned with water so not toxic solvents and nasty smells to worry about. When cleaning my brushes I use a basic soap bar and just water! Fabulous! For the initial sketching of a painting I will use paint thinned with a little water. Then after the initial blocking in layer, for subsequent layers I use the Cobra painting medium, mixed with varying % of water depending on the layer. This is to follow the fat over lean principle, so for the first layer the mix will be 1:4 water: medium; the second layer 2:4 and so on (roughly!). I haven’t got a lot of experience with the glazing medium so may write about that later, but I do know that it is more oily than the painting medium.
My easel is a watercolour easel which means I can tilt it right down to horizontal if I wanted to. It is on casters so is really easy to move around my space as required. The only issue I sometimes have with it is raising the height of the canvas to work on the bottom edge because of the low ceiling in the room ( a number of times I have had the top of the easel scraping interesting marks on the ceiling!) but, as usual, I can find ways to work round this, with a clever husband who can make me wood blocks!