Friday, February 22, 2013

Studio Table and Watercolor Paint Choices


Here it is the end of the week and I haven't posted about this weeks' work in the studio. There hasn't been a lot, and no painting, no collage.  I've been cleaning up the garden instead.  But I have been working in the studio, tossing a full cabinet drawer of files and reorganizing the remaining two drawers. It feels so good to have accomplished that.

With spring coming early to Oregon I decided to spend time on my sketching tools and the various bags I carry.  Here you see an area of my counter with some of the tools of my trade. Granted I'm at the end of the process so it looks tidy but you should have seen the mess.

The black bag on the right stays in the backseat floorboard of my car. The bag was intended to be a cosmetic bag for travel but it works better for sketching and paint tools.  The open palette is a W&N Cotman kit that was a freebie years ago and has seen lots of use. It's cleaned up for the season and mostly filled with my limited palette.

Some basic tools and a book I'm reading.
In this photo the black bag on the left is another cosmetic bag that I carry when I travel. It holds tiny bits of things I might need. I'll show you what's in that in another post if you're interested. Most things on this part of the counter are obvious and good ways to corral pens and pencils that are frequently used. The wire thingie is a vintage flower frog.  It really doesn't work well, prefering to hold flower stems, but I like how it looks so it stays there. The box cutter lives in a vintage glass tray that once held a dentist's picks.

Here's the car paint bag closed.
10" x 7" x 3"
I added D-rings on each side at the top and clipped a shoulder strap to the rings. There's also a metal shower curtain ring hanging on one of the handles so I can hang the case using an S-hook that lives inside. I've used this on an airplane quite successfully.

Opened partially, showing the handy compartments.
Opened all the way.
Check your local drugstore to see if you can find this Basics Cosmetics case. It's a dandy.

Watercolor, Collage, Journaling Table
This table is 30 x 60" and is a workhorse, used for all kinds of things, but this week it's where I've been testing watercolors in combination to see which I want to use in early spring.  The basic six that will help me capture the clear bright spring colors are Azo yellow, New gamboge, Winsor Blue GS, Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, and Winsor red.  Of course I'll modify and add to these basics, but for now that's what I'll play with.

For testing I gathered a stack of small pieces watercolor paper scraps and proceeded to test. I don't really know how to approach this so I just winged it. I first chose 3 blues and painted large spots of each down one side of the paper (see upper middle of picture) and then chose one yellow and painted beside and into each blue to see what sort of green the combination would give me. And that's how I approached each color in turn.

If you have a better way, please let me know.

I know I'll be painting with acrylics again and wanted to see how complete is my collection of Holbein Acryla acrylics. (The long narrow strip in the lower left of the picture is my record of colors I own.) Holbein uses such odd color names. For example, Flame red is really Napthol, PR9, but the only way to know that is to find the tiny paint number on the back of the tube.  So I hightailed it to Blick downtown and wrote the paint number on my Holbein chart so I'll know what to order in the future and bought a replacement since that's a frequently used one. 

Or maybe I'll revert to slinging paint based on what it looks like.  Probably will. Being organized takes the fun out of it for me.  So why go to this trouble? I need to know how to mix paint properly before I have the confidence to work with abandon. Otherwise I'm sure I'd just make ugly messes... like I've done too many times already.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I hope you all have a great weekend.  Make something pretty.


  1. Great idea Jo...I've got one of those cosmetic bags and not I see a better use for it. Thanks.

  2. I'm all for repurposing. Lots of handbags make great art bags, too.


I appreciate comments and questions.

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