Art, equipment, Studio pictures

Studio Pictures

I always like to see  pictures of other people’s studios so I thought I’d post a couple of mine.

I have been working, for years in a space in the back of our garage. The space was narrow, dark and cold. We expanded it into a really great office/studio space.

In the old space, if I needed a light I nailed a scrap of wood to the ceiling and clipped a light to it. There’s abundant natural light in the new space and track lights as well, In fact it’s challenging to learn how to manage all this light.

These 2 pictures were taken from opposite corners of the room.

Art, equipment, oil painting, Painting, Still Life

more tomatoes

Both of my daughters draw well. When they  were in elementary school, they did some ceramics one summer. We still have many of the pieces they made. They are among my favorite things.

The little clay box in this still life was made by my older daughter.

8″ x 10″ oil on panel

It’s a little odd getting used to painting in natural light, having always done still life painting under lights. I’m painting these recent studies without lights and, although it’s been cloudy, I do notice shifts in light throughout the day. It may take a little while to find the ideal way to set these up.

As with plein air painting, I sometimes struggle to see my panel, in natural light. Maybe there’s something wrong with my eyes. Many painters frown on using photos but sometimes I find it helpful to photograph my still life setups. Often it’s easier for me to see values, I’m struggling with, in a photo than than by looking directly at the objects.

The electrician comes today to wire the studio and hopefully I’ll have sheetrock on Monday!

view of veg garden from studio door, looking east.


Art, equipment, Landscape, oil painting, Painting, Plein Air

roof with a view


10″ x 8″ oil on canvas

The house we’re staying in has a sod roof from which there is a commanding view of the mountains, coastline and ocean. The sun finally came out yesterday so I hauled my paint box to the roof. The view of this painting is looking west (obviously) and the rock in behind the trees is, I believe, the same one I painted yesterday from a different point of view.

Below is a shot of my setup and view.


This is the first time I’ve used one of these umbrellas. It really helped with controlling the light on the panel and palette but it made the paint box unbalanced and it’s huge to carry. I may have to find a smaller lighter solution.

I also am not completely happy with the EasyL backpack I bought to haul all my painting gear. I’m always interested in how others handle these logistical problems. If anyone has experiences or solutions to share I hope you’ll leave a comment.

Art, equipment, Painting, Portland, Still Life, Workshop

Lemon Megilp


6″ x 8″ oil on paper

I attended the first of a 4 session ‘Head Studies’ painting class last Saturday. I’ve accepted that I shouldn’t expect to make good paintings at a workshop, where you’re trying to paint using unfamiliar materials and techniques (although I have to really resist the urge to try).

This lemon study is an attempt to get more comfortable with the materials and palette we’ll be using in the class. The instructor, Gage Mace, has asked everyone to use a palette of White, Burnt Sienna, Ult Blue, Cad Yellow and Terre Verte and to use a Gamblin medium called Neo Megilp.

Neo Megilp is a safer alterative to maroger medium. It’s very different to work with than what I’m used to. I usually use only a little Gamsol for most of that painting and maybe little thinned down Galkyd Lite toward the end.

This painting was constructed by first toning the support with Terre Verte mixed liberally with medium. This creates a kind of waxy, buttery surface to paint into rather than onto. Eventually you end up with a surface of paint that you can really move around. I could almost move that entire lemon a quarter inch to the right by pushing the paint. It’s interesting but a little hard to get used to, as is the palette.

Another thing that is different for me is that, I’m used to putting in my darkest values first. Gage is encouraging us to put in the mid-tone darks and mid-tone lights first and work out from there. It actually makes a lot of sense in that, since the value range of a painting is compressed from life, you’re less likely to get outside your boundaries by working from the middle out to the lights and darks.

One more thing that he stressed, and I’m guilty of this, is that you’ll make a richer color harmony if you depend less on white to raise values.

Anyway, there’s a bit of shared insight for what it’s worth. Gage Mace is the instructor at Hipbone Studios in Portland.


Art, equipment, gouache, Landscape, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Corner of NW Broadway and Lovejoy

This is another quick sketch, testing out papers. This is a piece of Arches Text Wove/Velin Arches that was sent to me by a fellow Sketch Journaler, Roz Stendahl to try out.

Corner of NW Broadway and Lovejoy

watercolor ink and gouache

It wets more readily than the handmade paper put it is quite a bit less substantial and buckles a lot when wet.

I also did a little more testing with Noodler’s ink and it does seem to run on the Twinrocker paper I just bound into a sketchbook. I checked their website and they say that it should be waterproof on cellulose paper. The paper is cotton rag so should be cellulose. I’ve written them for advice.

Animal Painting, Art, equipment, Figure Painting, Sketching, watercolor

Watercolor Paper test

I splurged and bought some handmade paper from Twinrocker Paper Mill to make my next skectchbooks. Although I like to paint with watercolor, I don’t really know what I’m doing. After I made one sketchbook, I wanted to try the paper out so I did these little sketches of our dogs on some leftover scraps.

Osa on Twinrocker white cotto rag……………Wilie on Twinrocker simons green

Watercolor and ink on Twinrocker Handmade paper

I was a little disappointed that the paper seemed to resist the watercolor more than I’m used to with the Fabriano Artistico I usually use. Maybe this is the way good watercolor paper is supposed to be. I seem to remember that you’re supposed to wet the entire paper before painting on it, which I did not do. Since I work back and forth with ink and watercolor I’d rather not have to do that. If any expert watercolorists happen to see this, I’d appreciate it if you could enlighten me on this.

The other thing I wanted to test was if the ink I use would be waterproof on these papers. I use several kinds of inks including Noodler’s and Platinum Carbon in my fountain pens. For dip pens I use Calli and Dr Martin Bombay India ink. I like to be able to paint back over ink lines with watercolor. Some inks depend on a chemical reaction with the paper to become waterproof and the reaction depends on the content of the paper. The testing I did was also a bit disappointing. Most of the inks ran when I painted over them, some worse than others. My testing was not very thorough so I still have hope that I can find a method that works for me.

Art, Bookbinding, equipment, Landscape, Portland, Sketching, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Sketching Downtown Portland plus my sketch kit

I buddy of mine and I went to the East Side Esplanade on Portland’s waterfront to sketch today. It was cloudy and threatened rain but was warm and pleasant otherwise. I realized, after I’d started drawing, I’d forgotten to bring some paper towels for watercolor but I think I’m just as happy I didn’t color this sketch of the Portland Skyline.

Portland skyline from East Bank Esplanade

Hawthorne Bridge and Portland Skyline pen and ink in 8″ x 5″ sketchbook

We moved down the way a bit toward the Burnside Bridge. I’ve drawn this one before. I like the Drawbridge Tender’s building. My friend pointed out that it looks kind of medieval with the buttresses under it. Actually I guess they’re not buttresses when they’re holding something up like this. Anyone know what they’re called?

Burnside Bridge detail

Burnside Bridge ink and watercolor in 8″ x 5″ sketchbook.


This sketchbook is just about full and I was stitching up a new one last night. Even though I have gotten some books and found other online references on binding projects like this, I found my self back at Trumpetvine Travels re-reading Martha’s most excellent book binding instructions. Hers are the most clear and detailed I’ve found.

I noticed that Martha recently wrote a post showing her entire sketching kit. If you’re interested in sketching make sure to check out Martha’s beautiful and extremely informative blog, Trumpetvine Travels.

I thought I would show my sketch kit here as well because I always enjoy a peak into other artist’s tools and techniques and, although it’s very similar to Martha’s, I’ve found one thing that I really love that makes the whole thing really easy for me to carry with me and therefore makes me more likely to sketch.

I tried using a map case that Russell Stutler wrote about on his blog, here. but I found it a bit clumsy to open and close and it also, if not balanced exactly right, would hang awkwardly.

This is something I found at an REI store but I don’t see it on their website. It’s a nylon zippered book cover designed for camping and outdoor stuff but I find that it’s the perfect size for a Moleskine sized sketchbook with room to carry a small watercolor box and a couple of drawing utensils.

Sketch Kit 1 Sketch Kit 2 Sketch Kit 3

Everything I need fits in this zipped up little package. It even has a ring so you can clip it on a backpack if you want. Other than at REI, I’m not sure where to find it. It’s labeled as being made by ‘Warp Corp Seattle WA’ but I Googled them and didn’t see anything like this on their site. Maybe other outdoor gear stores would carry it too.

Allana wrote in a comment that she found it on REIs website here.

Art, equipment, Sketching, watercolor

Blue Chair – watercolor

I took a break from oil painting yesterday but I did this little ink and watercolor sketch. I also added a little bit of gouache. I’ve tried to paint this scene in oil with no success.

Gouache is something I think I’d like to try more. I only have a limited number of colors now so am not able to do work in gouache alone.

Blue Patio Chair

ink watercolor and gouache in moleskine

I referred once before to some of my feelings about having worked full time as an artist. I came across an excellent blog yesterday by a woman sharing about the process of establishing herself as an artist after having completed her Fine Art degree after the age of 50. It’s very insightful and I recommend it. Her name is
Sue Favinger Smith.

I have occasionally had trouble photographing my oil paintings, particularly when they’re still wet, without a glare. While reading one of my absolute favorite painting blogs by Carol Marine, I found her reference to another blog (that’s why they call it the web), Strobist, with a description of an inexpensive light box.

Here’s my adaptation of it using a simple wooden frame and tracing paper.

Light Box

After making 3 frames, I attached tracing paper with a stapler and use clamps to hold the 3 frames together. I place a piece of white foam core over the top and clip a lamp on each side pointing them through the paper at the painting.