Painting is as Painful as Childbirth


Just as you wouldn’t want to wipe out the memory of giving birth to a beautiful baby…wait…I take that back. I was in labor for 34 hours…but she WAS beautiful!

OK, another analogy then.

Just as you wouldn’t want to wipe out the memory of your first kiss…ah better…Artists shouldn’t feel the need to cover up their first strokes on the canvas, and Viewers shouldn’t expect them to “clean” up the signs of their initial steps.

Let those brush or pencil marks show through. They give hints of the birth of the artistic journey. And just as life has pivotal stops along the way, so does a painting. Picasso even said, “A painting is never finished; it just stops in interesting places.”

Sometimes a painting should have stopped before we called it finished, but just like life, there are no do-overs, only cover-ups or efforts to turn its life around and improve through more living.

When a life is cut short, people will remark, “Oh she died so young.” Some paintings stop too soon before they’ve had a chance to add on layer after layer of colorful experiences.

When my painting is finally complete, I want people to say, “Wow! It lived a full life!” and hopefully we’ll all be richer for it.

Organizing a Studio Can Help Organize your Brain


Dear Kim,
I'm excited about the idea of setting aside a room in my home to use for my Painting Studio, but I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?

Dear Janet,
This question is right up my alley since you know how much I love to get organized. Some of these suggestions can be used for work spaces in general, but let's concentrate on how to make your studio perfect for a painter.

First of all, you cannot go wrong if you plan enough STORAGE SPACE for both materials to be used and materials that have already been used. In the unused category, you'll need storage for blank canvases (to be stored standing up) and paper (to be stored lying flat). You'll need space for tools and brushes that you can access easily while you work. Seeing your brushes can inspire you to paint, but your good ones (those squirrels and sables) should be kept away from the air. Let the synthetic ones stand artistically in cans around the room to add to your arty atmosphere.

In the used category, you'll need storage for finished paintings: you can temporarily hang canvases and tack up paper works on walls all over your studio (and house) while they wait to be framed. I'm such a visual person that as I was writing my book, I would tack up a printed copy of each finished chapter on the wall. There is something valuable to be said for rewarding your eyes with a sense of accomplishment. Now, this suggestion works until you run out of wall space. I have finished work under beds, in guest room closets, in flat map file drawers…you name it.

Now, for storage for your paints, a Taboret works great. It's like a flat map file with shallow drawers, but it has the added touch of casters so that you can move it around your studio. While I'm at it, I can't stress casters enough. Moveable furniture makes a small space more versatile. Even my easel has wheels.  Besides, when no one else is at home, you can roll a table or a set of shelves into an adjoining room to give you some air in the studio. 

Second, you'll have to plan for EQUIPMENT.  These space eaters depend on how you like to paint: on a flat table? on an easel? on the floor? In looking at your space, consider that you'll need enough room to physically back up to study your work in progress. So if you fill your floor studio with too much "stuff", you suffocate your viewing space.

Other must-have equipment includes a sink with brush cleaner and lots of towels and good lighting (preferably an Ott-Lite to give you true color) and natural light coming through a window on the north side of your studio. If you plan to keep track of your body of work, you may need to set aside a small desk for business. It could hold your laptop, a printer and marketing files.  If you have a large enough room, you might consider an assembling table which may include a matcutter and framing hardware.  A portable light table is also nice to have especially if it can be stored away when not in use. Mine is a floor model, so it doubles as a table.

Finally, no studio would be complete without a precious Inspiring Space for photos, books, found objects, and yes, Fred Babb posters especially the one that says "Go to your studio and make stuff."

So there, Janet. Once you get set up, the only thing left for you to do is to get in there and work, work, work!
Good luck,