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Watercolor Painting Lesson
by Jennifer Branch
A sketch of my studio
As much as I love drooling over Pinterest artist studios
a watercolor artist really needs very little. I've painted some of the best paintings of my life sitting outside on a blanket under a tree! But need and want are 2 different things, aren't they?
I just finished repainting my entire studio bright white. I didn't even get the paint store employees to put any colorants at all in the cans. I have flat white for a smooth, non glaring wall and gloss white for the trim work. It was an awful lot of white to begin with but I love it now that I've gotten over the shock! The room color doesn't affect my paintings at all except to bathe them in a lovely soft light.
As you can tell, I love maps, especially antique maps. I always keep a modern map of the world so I can plan painting trips. I have a map of Mount Desert Island because I love going there almost every year to sketch. The other paintings and maps in my art studio rotate frequently.
I keep mats,packaging and stored paintings neat and ready so I can mail an ordered painting quickly! I also have a large format archival printer so I can print limited edition prints myself. I think it's extremely important to print art prints myself so I can have them as close to the original painting as possible. I can also control the quality by making certain that everything sent to a client is absolutely perfect.
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I'm using a John Pike palette right now. It fits beautifully in my drawer.
My most cherished studio item is my desk. I commissioned the desk from local carpenter Frank Garrett and paid for it with one of my first big projects as a professional artist. I love my desk.
It has a tilting side and a flat side. The tilting side moves to any angle I want it to (though I am considering getting my husband to make it tilt with a button and jacks.... hmmm.) The flat side is perfect to keep water level and brushes from sliding off the table. It's short, since I am short. I can stand or sit to paint and it's always the perfect height. My palette rests in a shallow drawer. No drawer sides in the way but it can be smoothly stored dust free at the end of the day. A nice shelf is a perfect place to store paper and blocks, as well as dirty and clean rags baskets. Everything I need to paint is within arm's reach.
My painting go bag is always ready and packed so I can go sketch on the spur of the moment.
And that's really what it's all about, everything in arm's reach. Everything easy to paint at a moment's notice. I'm lucky enough to have a dedicated art studio, but I also have my go paint bag packed and ready. I load it up with paints as soon as I'm back from a sketching session, so it's always ready!
A watercolor artist is lucky, since watercolor painting can be done on location or in my art studio in almost exactly the same situation. I prefer a small palette sketching, but I carry a regular palette if I'm going on a serious painting trip. I can paint at the kitchen table, under a shady tree, or in my studio. Anywhere I like! (But I really love painting in my art studio!)
Don't store brushes flat or down. Store them upright so they can dry.
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