Virtual Studio

My studio set-up


This photograph shows my studio setup when I sit to paint. I often stand to paint at an easel in the studio as I like to step back to assess how a painting is going and I always stand at my easel when painting outdoors, except for urban sketches. We live in a small cottage so ‘Studio’ is a euphemism for my kitchen, which is well lit. I have drawing board which I set at about 30 degrees to take advantage of gravity when I’m painting large washes. On the board you see my painting frame which is something I invented to hold my watercolour paper; in my opinion life’s too short to stretch paper so I buy thicker paper and clamp it into my painting frame (more about my painting frame in a later blog). As I’m left-handed my paintbox, brushes, pencils etc. are on that side of my painting frame. My paintbox is a metal box , bought empty from Jacksons, into which I insert 24 empty full-pans; I fill the pans from tubes – tube paint is much softer than cakes which is important when I want to pick up lots of colour quickly for a wash or a wet-into-wet passage where speed is of the essence. I have always used Winsor and Newton paints as I find their colour range suits my mixing schemes; more about my colour palette selection in a future blog. The brushes you see are a large (10) Isabey squirrel mop for the broad washes and Escoda Perla (8 and 12) synthetic brushes which hold a fine point for details, e.g. architecture; I sometimes use a rigger for caligraphic lines, e.g. masts of boats. I use a B or 2B pencil for the under-drawing for my Impressionistic Watercolours and a sharpened matchstick (Bryant & Mays Extra Long Matches), dipped in a bottle of black waterproof Indian ink, for my Impressionistic Line and Wash paintings. The matchstick gives a line with character rather than the mechanistic line produced by a steel nib or hollow nib pens. It can also produce charcoal-like hatching. A large lantern water pot completes my equipment except for the very important towel that it all rests on. I learned to use a towel to adjust the water: paint ratio from my first artist mentor, dear James Fletcher-Watson, and find it an invaluable aid to getting the exact strength of pigment I need.