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Setting up your Studio

 

 
   

Setting up a studio can be daunting, especially if doing it for the first time. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting everything instead of focusing on the essentials. Luckily, unlike the tiles in your bathroom, the joy of a studio is that it can easily be remodelled and changed as your artistic practice develops.

Choosing the right space

 
   

The first consideration is space: if setting up a studio at home, choose a room, corner of a room, garage or shed that can be dedicated to your practice without needing to pack everything up after a session. Also think about what you need – is privacy essential or do you enjoy constant bustle around you?

The same applies when considering a studio outside the home. Nowadays it is easier to find listings that advertise affordable studios all over the country. Consider how social you want to be. Sharing a studio can be a fantastic way of building relationships with other artists; to learn and be inspired by each other, as well as give support and advice. Take time to think what your practice needs: for example, for oil painters, it is advisable not to share with someone who generates a lot of dust (through sanding wood, drilling) as the particles will cause problems. Conversely, to minimise the impact or smell of solvents around the people you share with, products like Sansodor or Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour can be used.

For many artists, light is critical – whether the preference is for natural stable northern light or artificial, this may be a key consideration in choosing the right space. 

 

Studios should be as flexible as possible; a space that satisfies your creative needs. Panelled walls work well for pinning canvases for large scale works or a small table will suffice for small scale paintings. Only bring in furniture you are likely to use on a daily basis to keep your space as clear as possible. It is advisable to keep one wall as white as possible in order to take frequent professional photographs of your work.

Finally, regardless of whether your work is small or large scale, storage and drying space is important; look out for a dry space to allow your paintings to dry easily, easy access to a sink, and good ventilation, specifically if using spray cans or solvents. A simple metal cupboard will suffice for solvents and building a compact rack to store paintings will help keep things tidy and protected.

Choosing the right materials

With your studio in place, it can now be filled with four essentials: colour, mediums, surfaces and tools. Begin by bringing in the tools and paints already in your possession. It is best to buy materials as you need them rather than speculate during sales.

Artist grade paints will always make a difference as they contain the best quality pigment which is ideal for final pieces. For drafts and sketches student grade paints are sufficient. Investing in mediums and solvents (such as Liquin Oleopasto Medium for oil colours and Ox Gall Liquid for watercolour) will make the colours go further. While thinning acrylic with water or oil paints with oil will only destroy paint film. Similarly, artist grade paint brushes, if taken care of, will outlive cheaper alternatives and give a much better brushstroke.

Finding an appropriate place to store surfaces is important: canvases should be rolled rather folded in order to avoid creases and woods should be stacked flat to discourage warping. Wrapping materials, keeping them off the floor and away from damp will ensure their longevity.

 
   

A new studio can seem daunting on arrival. Bringing in sketch books and a few draft paintings to hang on the wall will immediately individualise the space, make it comfortable and serve as insipiration.

Housekeeping

Keeping the studio space as tidy as possible will avoid accidents and spills. Glass jars can be used to store water, large mixes of paints and any toxic liquids. Find your local hazardous liquids collector to throw them away. Rags should be regularly washed in mild soapy water. If using toxic solvents, keep the rags in a metal container and wet them at the end of each session. Paint brushes need to be cleaned at the end of each session and it is beneficial to place them, once dry, in a closed container rather than a jar to avoid dust. 

Each studio will have its own individual look and quirks, by trusting your instinct and being pragmatic, the studio will soon become a safe haven for your artistic practice.