Setting up a Home Studio

31 08 2008

The studio is a very personal space for an artist, and as such studios are as unique as each individual artist. However, all studios do need some basics. This focuses on painting, however the majority of these suggestions can be used in any studio setting.

You do not need a studio to make art, however when you reach that certain point in your career when you once and for all decide you are an artist, you will want a space solely dedicated to your creativity. This is a place to store tools, works in progress, office items, etc.

Basic Parts of a Studio

Work Surface– Unless you have mastered the art of telekinesis, a work surface is the most essential part of your studio. This can be as low tech as working on the floor to a drafting table or an easel.

There are many different types of easels, from simple table-top easels which can cost as little as ten dollars to large, $1000 studio easels. The most important thing to consider when picking an easel is the size and weight of your canvas (or other material.) The most common type of studio easels are either A-frame or H-frame.

A-frame easels are good for smaller studios as they are able to fit snugly in the corner of a room. This said, they are more limiting to the size and weight of canvas you use.

H-frame easels are larger, heavier, and sturdier than most A-frames. They allow for larger, heavier canvases. Forward-tilt and crank adjustments are other pros for the H-frame models. These may be overkill for smaller studios.

Storage
First, you need places to store your art supplies. I don’t recommend going to an art store and buying a special art storage bin… they are overpriced. I’d recommend an old tackle box or even some tupperware. Old bookcases or shelves make excellent storage, of course.

It’s also wise to have a small table or cart of some sort to hold your easel/brushes/paints you are using for a current piece.

Storage for finished pieces doesn’t need to be in your studio. It can be in another room of your house, or even on the walls. When storing finished paintings though, be sure that the surfaces are well protected. Finished drawings can either be stored flat or rolled in tubes.

Lighting
Natural light is the best light to paint by, so a room with large windows make the best studios. However if you don’t have large windows… or you want to paint at night, you want to have the best lighting available.

You do not want incandescent lighting in your studio! That’s those horrible yellow lights that we all grew up in our household light sockets and are still in a good number of them. Instead of these, I recommend “color-corrected” fluorescent bulbs. The light is much whiter and mimics natural light more closely–however it is not perfect. Do not under any circumstances buy halogen bulbs. While great for photography when used in short intervals, they will get extremely hot, hence the nickname “hot lights.” This can cause serious damage to paints, models, props, your studio and you.

Floor Covering
Last but not least, you want a floor covering of some sort. Not really necessary if you have a bad flooring, of course. I prefer a reusable drop cloth made of denim or even low-grade canvas… stretch it after it’s filthy and covered with dirt and paint and call it modern art.

Every studio should be fully customized to suit your needs, but these are the basics which can give you a jumping off point. Keep in mind that you will probably want easy access to a cleaning area when you are creating your studio.

If you are using your studio as your place of business, make sure you think about having parking space and possibly a waiting room for your customers.

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