This may sound like such a simple exercise but image you start painting and you’re working with acrylics (a fast drying medium) and the small brush you need to add a little detail is no where to be seen…… can you image the horror!

Now different artists like to work in different ways with their workstation, some like to use an easel, some sitting down, standing up, on a tilted surface, flat and so on. I personally find sitting down too restrictive , you don’t have full movement in your arms to make those long brush strokes you’re trying to achieve. I find an easel useful when working on a smaller scale and more details (to save your back) but when working on a larger areas or triptychs its not really feasible. You may be using a watery medium which of course held vertically can only go one way and that’s south. Now some artist may read this and think ‘no way’ but its my opinion, it may not work for your style of working and like I always say – its about trial and error and finding what works for you. So lets get started.

Some useful tips:

Keep it clean: Now if like me, you just love mess and creating mess! The bigger the strokes the better, but this of course comes with a price and that’s ‘splashes’ and I don’t mean just on your canvas, I’m talking on the floors, the walls, the cupboards and certainly on you! I’ve often answered the door with paint all over my face, and in my hair (which is great as acrylic are waterproof and sometimes even the best shampoo’s can’t tackle oh so well). However you can’t be really be expressive if you’re restricting yourself though can you, I think some of my best work has come from creating the most mess.

Keeping you clean is the biggest challenge; I would say to always wear overalls when working with materials such as oils and acrylics as they will not come out. I wouldn’t even advise to wear just an apron, completely change into old clothes that you’re happy to ruin. Sometimes when my niece visits, its always ‘Auntie Michelle can I do a painting’ I make her put on one of my really old ‘multi coloured’ t-shirts much to her discuss that its not sporting the latest High School Musical gang. For me the main part you can’t really avoid getting covered is your hands, I don’t bother wearing gloves I feel to restricted, what’s a little (or a lot) of paint!

paint splash

Your Work Surface: I lay an old off cut of carpet of the floor, and lots and lots of brown paper over the work surface, which for me are cupboards. Now if you don’t have anything, which has a good height, I actually used to use….. Don’t laugh….. An ironing board with a piece of wood and brown paper over the top. It’s so simple and you can adjust the height to suit your needs, and what’s more it’s easy to pack away, perfecto!

Have Your Brushes At The Ready: Enough said really, do just that.

Drying Rack: Somewhere to dry your work is essential, especially if you’re like me and working on commissions, this could mean you have 5 or 6 on the go at any one time. I brought a rack system from B & Q, now there were large gaps between each rack which I didn’t need so I brought two sets, cut the tubes in half and doubled up on my rack system. It’s perfect for storing several paintings and allowing them plenty of time to dry without having to move them to make room for the next piece.

Ah the glamorous life of an artist. Ironing boards, B & Q racks, ruined clothing……Well what can I say except I love it!

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