Setting up an Oil painter’s studio can be a costly affair. It doesn’t have to be. In this post, I give you the basics of setting up your studio, I cover the paints and brushes and mediums I use.
When painting super large paintings that don’t fit on an easel, I just hang it on screws.
I use a wall easel instead of a regular easel and this frees up floor space. This means I can work on many paintings at a time and also have somewhere to hang them while they are dying. The wall easel slats are cut at an angle so I can hang my painting panels. I also made sure that they are perfectly level.
I cut some wooden blocks shaped at an angle and I attached them to the back of my panel. Just make sure the screws are short and don’t pierce into our painting.
Lighting: For lighting I use flicker-free 4700k LED’s, high quality lighting. What is so awesome about these lights is it uses very little power and you can paint any time day or night and the light remains consistent and with a high Color Rendering Index. This makes a huge difference in the quality of the light. You can accurately mix colors and paint with confidence. Here is some info about their flicker-free light bulbs
A Chest of Drawers is handy…This is ideal for placing your computer monitor, your brushes and jars of turpentine/medium, whatever you use.
In the top drawer you can place your tubes of colors in a row all along the width of the drawer. This way you can easily find the colors you need. The next drawer down you could keep paper towels, rags etc. And in the bottom drawer you could store drawing pads and small painting panels.
Palette, brushes, paints and mediums…
I use a cart for my palette. My husband Marc, made the top with a scrap piece of plywood. He glued on some square dowels around the edge and for my brushes. I then stained it with a mahogany stain. I had some glass cut to fit the top perfectly.
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Mediums:. I use Natural Pigment’s Oleogel and I love how it handles. It’s easy to use, no mess, no fuss and is solvent free.
I highly recommend Natural Pigments for those who want to use quality oils. Their Rublev oil colors are absolutely fantastic to work with. They are handmade using traditional pigments.
Marc made this rack for me to store my paints, and I will at some point, stain it with a mahogany stain. I’m so delighted with it.
Substrate and Grounds: I paint on wood braced panels and glue on cotton unprimed canvas. I then size the canvas panel first before applying an Alkyd Lead oil ground. If you do use an acrylic primer, I recommend Liquitex. Just make sure you leave your panels to dry for three days between each layer as it takes that long for the water in the primer to evaporate. Otherwise, if you paint on the panel before it’s had time to evaporate, can cause problems. What I really like about Liquitex, is that it seals the surface too. You can apply directly to raw canvas. If you do paint on ready primed canvas, I recommend applying a few more coats of primer.
Paper towel and clean-up… I prefer to use paper towel instead of rags to clean my brushes. I also find that the cheapest brand or even recycled paper towel is best. No lint. Avoid the big fluffy rolls of paper towel. I really like the blue shop towels, they are quite durable.
You can either use odorless mineral spirits or use walnut oil as a brush dip to clean your brushes. Just wipe off the excess paint and dip my brush into walnut oil, don’t swish your brush, just dip it and work it into a paper towel.
My favorite brush cleaner is Murphy’s Soap. I can’t live without it. The best ever! It will even clean off hardened stiff brushes, it’s amazing and totally Non-toxic!
IMPORTANT: Make sure you rinse your brushes off thoroughly with water to remove ALL traces of soap.
There you have it, I hope you found some of my ideas helpful! Best of luck setting up your studio!