Home studio Tips

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How can I keep oil and acrylic brushes separate?

Separate Acrylic and Oil brushes

If you dabble in both acrylic and oils, use different coloured electrical tape to wrap the ends - say red for oil and blue for acrylic. This way you won`t mix your acrylic and oil brushes up.

How can I organise my magazines and packets?

A recipe for magazines and packets

Your magazines can be filed like the books in appropriate boxes with an index you make. However, I personally don't have enough shelf space for this and hate not being able to lay my hands on exactly what I want in a moment. So..I turn my magazines into pattern packets and information files. For storage you will need either a set of large ring binders and(I started this way) or a filing cabinet with suspension files and folders. You will need tons of plastic pockets too.

1. To turn your magazines into pattern packets you will need a good paper trimmer or a craft knife, steel ruler and cutting mat.
2. You will also need a packet of sticky notes and a planned trip to a photocopier.
3. Ok...ready? Here is what we do. Open the magazine up in the middle. Use a knife or similar to undo the staples holding the pages together and remove them. Keep you pages in order.
4. Trim each page right down the centre. Still keep the pages in order. This is very important!
5. Close you magazine as if it were still in one piece.
6. Turn to the beginning and work through selecting only the patterns and ideas you want to keep. This is important! The idea here is to cull what you don't like or are not likely to paint or find useful! Exclude the advertising!! As you select each one check the following:
*Does a page I want to keep for this pattern back onto a page I want to keep for the next one? If so, make a note to have one of the two pages photocopied. I usually pick a text page over a page with illustrations.
*Is there a pattern for this on the pattern insert? If so make a note to trace or copy that pattern if you can't just cut it out(because of patterns on the back)
*Are the instructions complete or do they continue on a page later in the magazine. Locate the extra page and note it for copying.

7. At this point, the magazine should still be complete. Now take the magazine to copy centre and copy the necessary pages. I am not too concerned about copyright here. You have paid for the magazine, and are storing the magazine in a logical manner. You have the original page probably elsewhere in your filing system. You are not going to sell it or make a profit from it. It is for your reference only, your private and personal use.
8. Once you get the pages and magazine back home, it is time to package up those patterns into plastic pockets. Once again, you need to clear the decks and make piles to suit categories. Because I use a filing cabinet, I have subcategories: Animals is now cats, dogs, farmyard, sheep, cows etc. Flowers are violets, pansies, hydrangeas etc. Fruit is citrus, berry and fruit salad!
9. Once you have them sorted, file them and make a record of what is in your cabinet. I used alphabetical order for the categories and then the sub categories within.
10. Now add your pattern packets into this file.
11. Finally, you need to record what you have. As suggested on the books organization, you can use index cards, or even simply write list of what is in the drawer. You can use your computer skills and create space for these in your database on books, or create a separate database. You can use a commercially provided database like the Decorative Painter Data Base.

To make the most from this system include technical notes like colour theory, information on paint products, paint colour charts and conversions, historical information etc. Even make a file for these tips!

How can I organise my studio?

Organise your paint

Make a rack or buy one for your paint and set it up in order as provided by the paints colour chart. It will be easy to see what is missing and will help save you from buying doubles.

How can I store so much stuff?

Make a shed

One of the best solutions for storage is to have a small shed or shed space. In Australia we don't have basements, but we do have verandahs and pergolas. I had a fernery down the side of my house which wasn't doing much. There was a roof and a wall frame there. So we scouted around and got some second hand tin for walls and roof, put up some spouting and laid a gravel floor. Voila...a 10 meter long space about 2 meters wide has become my shed! It is furnished with all manner of make shift shelving, old cupboards and drawer units and even an old trough with cold running water for washing up the brushes. It is a dry storage place and keeps my studio free of clutter. Have a look around your place. Is there a place you can put a wall and roof on to turn into a shed? Use plastic sheeting for the roof to give you lots of light in the daytime.

What is a good way to store paints.

Organising Paints

The best way is so that you can see the labels, or at least the paint colour. There is a great paint storage solution available. This unique door-hung paint rack is easily mounted on any standard height doors or on the wall. It is built to hold the standard two (2) ounce paint bottles. (1 & 1/2 inch depth). It can also be modified to accommodate jars and tubes. Paints can be stored by color and brand for easy access. Go to http://www.gotcs.com/rack.htm to see a picture of it.

How can I store lots of paint?

Lots of paints to store

I have two wooden racks storing over 400 paints. One is a flat piece of board that has been furnished with 2 inch pieces of dowel just the right distance apart to hold a tube of paint by the shoulder. This board carries tubes of Matisse, Jo Sonja and Windsor Newton water mixable oils, all in one easy to get to place - a wall in my laundry. The full range is on the wall in one place and in the same order as the colour chart. Each place is labeled so when a tube is missing I can easily see what is either in use, missing or in need of replacement. For my bottles I have a cupboard that is one bottle deep.

How do I keep my studio in order?

Paint purchasing

Keep a copy of the colour chart of the paint you use in your handbag. Tick the paint you have so when you make a purchase you dn't buy the same paint again. Deco Art have a great printable inventory list if you prefer this. Check it out at http://www.decoart.com

How can I organise my studio?

Paint tube storage

Paints in tubes and bottles are difficult to 'see' when it comes to making a quick visual conection between the paint inside and the actual paint colour. Paint the bottle or tube top with a dob of the paint inside and you will more easily see what the colour is. the other important thing about this is you see what the colour is when it is dry - usually a few shades darker, and you will see if it is transparent or opaque.

How can I keep my painting space in order?

Tidy up your paint table

Make your life clutter free on the workspace. Only put out the brushes and paint you need.

Where should I put my painting table?

Don't face a wall

It is not very healthy for your desk or painting table to be in a corner where you will be facing the wall. It is claustrophobic and not good for your mental and creative energy. A Feng Shui consultant advised my to have my back to the wall and face out into the middle of the room - it sure does help! Now I have a desk and shelf set up in a corner, but I actually paint at the table facing the middle of the room.

Where should I sand?

Outdoor tools

Have a crate or box in an appropriate outdoor space with your sander and sanding paper and sprays and masks. Keeping them out doors won`t tempt you
to do this inside. (It is unhealthy for you anyway!)If you have a shed, of course keep them in there!

What sorts of shelves should I put in my studio?

Keep it handy

Keep your workspace as a place where everything is handy by having a shelving unit built along the back of a workspace or store table. This unit is one which can hold paper, brushes, palettes, work in progress, often used references like colour charts and conversion guides, your currently in use patterns and magazines and all your gadgets. I have a bucket with tools like the screwdriver and pliers etc on one shelf, alongside this is the paper towel etc. Another small caddy carries the chalk pencils and the cotton tips. A container carries pre cut milk cartons for blending on. Some narrow slide out shelves hold the graphite paper, spare palette paper and tracing paper. Everything is in easy reach, and while I don't work at the table since it is in the corner, it is the hub of my painting and right near where I paint so I don't need to go far to get my materials. As a teacher it also stores materials related to my classes...incuding my attendence book!

What should be kept at the painting table?

What should be at the desk?

Don't have your painting table too cluttered. Try this limited list:1. Caddy for brushes and pencils etc
2. Small container with cotton tips, eraser, magic tape and other bits and
pieces in it
3. A small folder for putting in your graphite, tracing paper and current
project pattern.
4. Your palette
5. Your paper towel. Try hanging this on a wall nearby.
6. Have a hook nearby for your apron or painting shirt
7. Your water container.
8. Your project of course!

What lighting do you recomend for the studio?


Many painters regard the Ott Light as their best asset in their workspace. You can find them here: http://www.artistsclub.com/ac/Tools/ToolList.asp?Cat=822
The most important thing to remember is to have good even lighting. I use fluorescent lighting and have 'daylight' tubes in them which gives me much better light.

What is a good data base program?

Data Base programs

Take a look at the Decorative Painters Data Base. There are a number of modules to choose from, not the least of which are Book and magazine modules. You can download a free trial version to check it out. I
recommend the program as one that is quite easy to use. Furthermore, you won`t get better in backup service and support. The program author, Stan McBride is there on email for you, and he now has a support group for the DPDB users to get help in using the program if they need it.


How can I organise my books?

Create a catalogue of books and patterns

Data base programs are designed to record essential information: For each book record the author, number of pages, when you bought it, how much it cost, what projects and surfaces are in it, what level of painting it is for and anything else you think is important. Entering the data is a daunting task, and quite time consuming, but the benefit of being able to ask your database to find you all references to Roses in you collection is wonderful! If it is set up right, and you took the project approach, every one of the rose projects will appear and you will quickly see which books they are in. Now, if you are confident enough with a computer you can use any data base program to design your own program.

How can I organise my books?

Keep track of books

The manual way would be to use a filing card system. Assign each book a number, record the details of the book on the card and list the projects within the book. If you want to record every project then you
will need a card for each project in the book and you will need to determine how to file them – by topic, project title, artist or book title. It can get complicated. You could just write a list of the projects in the books in a particular box as an index to that box and stick it in there with them. Alternatively, check the tip under the Computers subcategory here.

What furniture should I have in the Studio?

Furnishing the studio

Your basic furnishing list should include

1. Solid table or desk.
2. Good lighting (Many in the USA recommend the `Ott Light`. If you are
Downunder, get a good lamp and use a daylight bulb or have fluorescent
light in the ceiling and once again choose `daylight` tubes.)
3. Hairdryer...a must for painters in a hurry!
4. Music machine - Radio or CD player.
5. Power point - at least a double. You will want to have your light and
hairdryer plugged in. If you like music, you will also need to be able to
plug in a source for that too.
6. Good chair with adjustable height. This is especially useful as the
height of your pieces varies! Please choose this very carefully. The chair
must fit you!
7. Shelving and or filing cabinets (Or filing crates) for your books and
patterns, work in progress etc.
8. Rubbish Bin

What will make a good noticeboard?

Notice Board

Make your own notice board to store your important notices. Glue some cork floor tile, or foam to a board and hang it on the wall for a noticeboard. I have a piece of foam core board (They kind they use for
Paper tole) stuck with double sided tape to a large window. I use tiny map pins to pin my notices to it.

How can I store mediums?

Containers for mediums and mixes

Recycle empty soap pump dispensers. Wash them out and fill them with your favourite mediums such as colour float. Keep small bottle and jar lids handy to hold these mediums during painting too!

How can I store my brushes?

Make a brush caddy

Another brush caddy idea is a Pringles Chips container...painted of course! You could in fact use any round or square tubular item for a caddy. Why not try cutting some plastic pipe for the job. Please try
though for lightweight materials rather than heavy ones! You could of course just recycle some jars!

How can I keep track of my paint?

Keep a record of your paint

There is nothing worse than shopping for paint than to come home and find you already have it! Here is what to do:
1. No matter what brand or brands you use be sure to have a current colour chart for each of them. You supplier should be able to give you one free of charge. Tick off every paint you have. Keep it handy to your studio workspace. When you decide on using a pattern, check to see if you have the paint (Or an alternative using a colour conversion guide). If not, pop it on your shopping list. If you are heading for a general shopping spree somewhere be sure to take along those colour charts so you don't buy paint you already have.
2. If you are computer happy, get the paint module of the Decorative Painters Data Base and keep an inventory of your paint. Go to http://www.simplist.com/page/how.html and click on or scroll down to a description of the paint module.
3. If you use Deco Art brand you can download a complete inventory list of all their paint from their site. http://www.decoart.com/0000/INVENTOR.HTM

How can I organise my books?

A recipe for book storage

Ok…forget counting them..that is pointless (and frightening!) Lets tackle this problem logically.
1. Clear the decks and make way for piles of books! Make a list of categories for your books that suit your tastes and interest. Write each category name onto a scrap of paper and give it a place on the table for that pile of books.

2. Here are my categories: Australian, Animals/Farm, Country, Faces and portraits, Flat brush, Round brush, Colour and reference, Design ideas,
beginners, faux finishes, multiloading, Floral focus, Still life and Trompe, Roses, Jo Sonja (yep a whole box by just one artist) traditional (in three boxes…one is purely Zhostovo) Make up your own to suit your

3. Go through each of your book and place them into the appropriate pile.
As you do this, you might find some categories so big that you need to break them down a bit. You might have a particular favourite author or style so give them their own category. You may find it hard to resolve
which category to put a book into…consider what you use it for mostly, or what the favourite design is to help you decide. We won't lose track of
individual projects when we get to step six.

4. Buy some cardboard book holders. These are flat when you get them. Fold them into their appropriate shape following the directions, and add a bit of masking tape to secure them. Your books in a group will be heavy so don't be stingy here. By good quality book holders (even plastic ones if you
prefer) and secure them well. Use some laser or sticker labels to plant a label on the front of each one.

5. Label each box with a category, pop the books in. Books deserve to be upright on shelves, so organise a bookshelf of sorts. You can buy one or
make one. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just make sure the shelve depth and height are appropriate. Some of my ‘art' type books don't fit where my decorative painting publications do because the shelves are the smallest bit too small in height!

What is a good way to store brushes?


Brushes should be stored upright in a jar or utensil container. An old dishwasher cutlery holder makes a great brush caddy. Wrap wide tape or some contact paper around it and across the bottom. You could even get someone clever to build a box just the right size to sit it into.

What is a good way to store paints.

Paint storage 1

When I first started painting I had a plastic tub and tube paints. Of course none of them would stand up! So I filled the tub with plastic milk containers that had been cut to mid height. These formed pockets within the tub. Each one carried a colour group - the blues in one, greens in the other etc. This worked until I added more brands!

What sort of studio should I have?

Find a special place

Take a good look at your home and identify where your painting space will be. You need to make it your space, and make it special! Preferably, you will have an entire room to yourself that you can call your `Studio`. If not, make the kitchen table choice the very bottom of your list! Here are
some ideas:

*Revamp a closet or large cupboard (built in or free standing). Leave the upper shelves in tact and remove the lower ones. Have a `desktop` put in at the right height for you and your chair. Locate a nearby power point or have one fitted in or near the space for a light. With this system, when space is limited you can close the cupboard door on your painting when you
have to pack up, without really packing up! If you can, add a filing cabinet to one side...but be sure there is enough table top space for yourself and your work.

*There are on the market some great drop down/fold up work desks that can be installed on walls. One of these may be useful to you.

*If you have backyard space consider investing in a small tin shed. Have the floor concreted and power attached. Place a nice big old table in there, some shelving units and you could even go so far as to have cold water plumbed to it. If not, get a large water carrier with a tap on the bottom of it. Fill it with your garden hose when you need to replenish your water supply.

*If you really must use family space such as the dining room or kitchen, try to locate a painting store cupboard near this table so setting up and packing up doesn`t mean you are carting equipment from one end of your house to the other.

* If your space indoors is limited, consider a small shed or the corner of the family shed for storage of pieces waiting to be painted/sold etc.

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Guru Spotlight
George Sayour