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What’s happening in the studio

Happy valentine’s Day! This post doesn’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day but I wish you well none the less!

This is a quick post about what’s been going on in the studio and to share a glimpse at one of the paintings I have been working on. I haven’t updated my portfolio here for a while and I am certainly looking forward to catching up on that soon.

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Some book recommendations

Whether you are studying at an art school, an atelier or teaching yourself there is such an enormous amount of solid work worthy of study out there. I suggest in addition to the following short list of books, and there are many more, that you get into some intensive study of the works of your favourite artists. Museum visits will give you a more accurate representation and more rich understanding of their work and how they created them. Chase after what inspires you. Experiment. Study, study, study. Talk with other artists that share a similar interest, share what you know or are studying.
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Good studio practice ~ advice for the developing artist, Part 3

Oils, varnishes and solvents

There is most definitely a long list of oils, solvents and varnishes as well as siccatives and dryers all of which have properties unique to themselves. Not all of them mix well together so it will serve you well to study thoroughly all materials related to making art through painting.

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Good studio practice ~ Advice for the developing artist, Part 2

Some of the tools of the trade and how to care for them


As I’m sure you may know there are many types of brushes for many different purposes. Some of the shapes range from flats, filberts, to rounds and are often available at different lengths, both in their handle as well bristle/hair length. Find what works for you and also pay attention to what type of paint each brush is designed for.
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Good studio practice ~ advice for the developing artist, Part 1

I wanted to take a few moments to write a series of thorough but brief posts sharing some principles, attitudes and habits that can be useful for the developing artist. Some of what I will say in this series will not be new to all of you, of course, but may be helpful for some beginners and maybe even remind some seasoned painters of some good habits they may still be struggling with. Also, this is not intended to be an article exposing grand secrets of studio work, but is meant to assist beginning artists in building a sound foundation and offer things to consider when approaching your work and the environment you create it in.

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Build your own plein air easel.

This is a project that I have been looking forward to completing for some time now. I am very happy to have this finished and look forward to getting out and putting it to use.

The outside dimensions are 12 x 16 inches and it was built with 1/4 inch plywood with 3/4 inch ripped pieces of pine, but you could use hardwood as well.

The palette is plexi glass that I happened to have. I would like to change this to glass when this one gets too difficult to clean. Underneath I have a piece of linen toned to a neutral grey. Since I like to paint on toned grounds this allows me to mix on the colour/tone that I will be painting on.

I built this entire easel with scrap materials that were left over from other projects, including the stain and clear coat. The only thing I purchased for this was something called a t nut, which is what allows me to fasten the easel to a camera tripod.

The side hinge was the only piece of hardware I had difficulty in sourcing. So much so that I built my own using  two metal L brackets that I bent straight in a vice and with a hammer. Along with some washers, lock washers, two bolts, nuts and a wing nut to tighten and hold it in position, everything works perfectly.

The other aspect in this design that was difficult to decide on was how to keep the panel I would be painting on in place. I was considering fabricating my own hardware as I did with the side hinge until I came across Jim Serrett’s site Pochade Box Paintings. In his post on How to build your own Pochade Box , where he goes into great detail (and I highly recommend reviewing this post) he show’s how he used a small bungee cord through slots to hold the panel in place. I thought that was brilliant. It works great, it’s inexpensive, lightweight and you can tie a quick knot in it for smaller panels.  Many thanks to Jim Serrett.

I first saw this design at Open Box M and just loved it. If you are looking at purchasing a plein air easel instead of building your own I would take a look at the Open Box M site as well as another great easel design  at Alla Prima Pochade. They have a wonderful design as well.

Here are some more images of the easel to give you a better look at it and to help show you how it was built. If you have any questions about it feel free to post them or message me.

Happy Monday!

With an unfinished panel to show how it’s held in place.
and from the back, showing the bungee cord.
3/4 inch piece of plywood where the t nut is installed.
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