Women in Art Initiative

How to set up your paint shop?

You are starting out in painting and want to optimize your home a little to practice your new passion, or you may be more experienced and take the step of setting up a real workshop. Here are some tips, ideas for materials, recommendations for choosing and organizing your workspace.

Painting at home

Not everyone has the chance to own or rent a space reserved for their painting studio. But working at either company still has its advantages:

  • you save time and money, no need to travel, and no rent and other bills related to an independent workshop.
  • we can paint whenever we feel like it.
  • In spare time, we can look at our current table to see what we need to correct and what the next steps are.

There are also disadvantages:

  • your family and friends must learn to respect your working and relaxing time
  • you must learn to concentrate on your painting, isolate yourself and not be distracted.
  • it’s not always practical to have to clean up after each session
  • we sometimes don’t want someone to observe us while we paint or see our work when it’s not finished.

You must therefore develop good habits, organize your storage space and set up schedules dedicated to your passion. This will help you not to interrupt at the slightest opportunity. Of course, if you have the possibility of having a room reserved for painting, this will be an advantage.

Find a workshop

Any bright, airy and sheltered space can be used as a workshop. A water point is also a big advantage. If you want to work outside your home, there are several possibilities:

  • There are groups of workshops occupied by artists’ collectives, associations. These places are interesting, they encourage you to paint and allow exchanges, as well as material as ideas, recommendations, techniques between the different artists occupying. You can also hold exhibitions there. You can contact the various municipalities around you or the school of fine arts to find out if there are any such structures in your area. You can also be at the origin of the creation of one of these spaces, a rather long process but one that will bear fruit.
  • Rent a shop: they make very beautiful workshops, indeed they are for the most part equipped with large windows allowing light to enter well and present a big advantage when you want to exhibit and sell your paintings.
  • Artists’ residencies: some galleries, foundations, but also professional premises such as companies or medical houses sometimes offer an artist to take up residence at home if his work is in line with their activity or project.

The best light for painting

Natural light

The ideal natural light for painting comes from the north. Not being directly from the sun, it changes very little during the day, of medium intensity, it will not tire your eyes and will faithfully restore colors. On the contrary, the southern light will favour drop shadows and overheat the atmosphere, which we will see later is not a good thing for painting.

Artificial light

If you work in a space poorly exposed to natural, dark light, or on days of bad weather, in the evenings, you will need artificial lighting. The important point when choosing your bulbs is the temperature of the lights they emit:

  • The “warm white” bulbs have yellow/orange tints, which give a warm atmosphere but alter the perception of colours.
  • Very cold white” light bulbs are unpleasant for a living room or office.
  • White “daylight” is the optimal light for painting because it offers a good perception of colours. The colour temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, the day’s temperature being 5500K.

Concerning the lamp itself, use articulated lamps instead of ceiling lights to direct the light as you wish. Easel lamps are also a good solution. To soften the light, you can illuminate yourself by using the reflection of a white or silver object. There are also the lamps called soft boxes used by photographers and videographers, I have one equipped with four “daylight” energy saving bulbs and I am very satisfied with them, we really feel like we are in broad daylight, in addition to being very good at painting, it feels good for morale.

Storage of painting equipment

Your tubes, pallets, rags, pots, brushes and other utensils will quickly become a source of disorder. It is therefore important to organize your storage properly, so as not to scatter yourself, to work in good conditions, to tidy up quickly and especially not to waste your time looking for a tool every time. The best thing about a workshop is a rolling table with several trays, but it’s not always easy to have that at home. Plastic crates, shoe boxes or ice cream boxes will be useful to store and sort your tubes and cans of paint, media. You can use pots like pencil pots to store your brushes and knives with your head up, of course. A covered storage space can be an effective way to store and organize your small utensils and pencils.

If you can, create a storage annex to store your blank canvases, finished paintings and utensils that you do not need at the time. In my previous apartment, I didn’t have a room dedicated only to painting, but I did have a very small room equipped with a shelf on which there were all my boxes and tools that I used more or less often, I could also store my blank canvases and my easel there when I had to make room in the living room. I had installed a tarpaulin on the ground allowing me to install trestles, paint my floors, do stains or drips without risk of dirtying the ground.

Keep your aprons, gowns or other work clothes in plain view so you don’t forget to put them on before painting. Cover fragile floors and protect furniture nearby that you don’t want to stain, this will be one less concern and you will be able to concentrate on your painting without holding back your actions.

I will leave you at the end of the article a list of the equipment that will be useful in a workshop…

Climatic conditions

High temperatures are not really friends of acrylic paint, which can dry too quickly. Draughts also accelerate drying. To overcome this, you can spray your colours on the palette with water (from time to time with a spray bottle for example) or add retardant medium. Avoid the fan. Indoors you can also increase the ambient humidity, using a bowl filled with water placed on the floor or by hanging wet muslin on the windows.

Cold can also be a problem, below 8°C, the paint may become too rubbery.

Something to relax on

Yes, it is not insignificant, you will spend time studying, thinking, finding ideas, solving problems. A pleasant working environment is essential for this. Some objects will be useful to bring you comfort and serenity:

  • A kettle or coffee maker for your coffee / tea breaks.
  • A lounge chair, sofa or comfortable armchair for relaxing naps or long moments of observation and reflection.
  • Books and magazines of art or that inspire you, catalogues of material.
  • Music, soothing and stimulating, it will be a great help to immerse yourself in long sessions of painting. I find that the “timeless” effect is even more pronounced with music, plan several albums or a long playlist so as not to worry about it every ten minutes.
  • Spoken broadcasts or audio books are also a good background sound to keep the left brain occupied and prevent it from interfering with the ongoing reflection.

A computer

A small desk with a computer is a great advantage in a workshop or your painting area, you can put music on it, display and file your references, models and photos of your finished works. You can also do your research when an insolvent problem arises.

List of special workshop equipment

Apart from paint tubes, brushes, rollers, pallets, gesso, painting supports, easel, here is a list of objects, tools that can be useful to you at home or in your workshop:

  • A garbage can
  • a mirror
  • bulletin board
  • rags
  • stool, armchair
  • water pot and buckets
  • paper reels for paper
  • vaporizer
  • pots and storage boxes
  • old newspapers, flyers….
  • sponges
  • parchment paper (can be used as a cache, disposable white pallet background, or tracing paper)
  • absorbent paper
  • Primer and varnish
  • abrasive paper
  • tape rolls
  • T-ruler, cutting ruler, square, compass, tape measure, various measuring instruments.
  • belt or cutting board
  • cutter and blades, scissors
  • hand support
  • hair dryer
  • boxes
  • bubble wrap
  • Twine twine
  • hanging systems: hooks, picture rails…

Check also on the market of the second hand, it could be most interesting ($).

I hope that this article will have been useful to painters from beginners to more experienced painters looking to properly organize their workspace.

See you next time and keep your brushes!