Lesson 2.1 Setting up…

The beginning of the next lesson in the book I’m following, Kathleen Staiger’s “The Oil Painting Course you’ve Always Wanted”, is about how to use brushes in a variety of ways but it begins with a section on how to set up your painting area.

I was amazed when I saw her picture…

Staigers Setup

(K. Staiger's photo of her painting set-up from her book.)

Because it’s almost exactly what I do – except that my brushes are behind the medium and cleaner pots (I use pint glasses of water since I’m working in gouache rather than oil).  I also don’t have newspaper down, since a damp cloth will clean up my gouache or watercolour drips.

Here’s a photo of my work area:


I’ve been using this set up for a few months now.  One of the odd things about working this way is that now all the paint and water is on my right I find I’m painting less with my left hand than I used to.  I used to choose a hand depending on how easy it was for each hand to paint a particular stroke and I used to swap if either arm got tired too.  This set-up sort of pushes me to be more right-handed.  I wonder if I will lose the ability to paint left-handed if I don’t use it so much?

There are two other minor issues with this working environment:

(1) During the summer afternoons the sun shines directly on my work area through the doors to a Juliet Balcony which affects the way I see tone and colour which in turn affects my paintings.  Steady consistent daylight is much better.  The difficulty is that if I close the curtains then becuase of the curtain colour – the light turns red.

direct sunlight

(2) When it’s dark and I use the room light, the position of my dining table means that the front of my canvas is in shade.  Again this can be a bit tricky.

room light puts canvas in shade


However, I’m moving home soon, so my plan is to set up a purpose built working area lit with a daylight lamp in my new home.  I’m so excited about this – it’s going to be brilliant!  Once I’m settled I’m going to start exhibiting paintings too and trying to sell them.

I’m going to go through local galleries, businesses and shows but I also want to have a place online where I can sell.  I’ve been thinking about Etsy, or Ebay, or perhaps even the new Amazon Hanicrafts Marketplace?

4 thoughts on “Lesson 2.1 Setting up…

  1. Thanks for the advice. The set up I have is one I arrived at naturally so I’ll leave it. I was just surprised that it was like the book. Your light set-up sounds good. I like working in daylight – so I will probably use a daylight blub – full spectrum.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t forget that acrylic, watercolour and gouache dry much faster than oils so only put on your palette what you are working with at the time.
    For light, I use a 2 headed floor lamp. They both have high wattage globes…I dont know the equivalent over there. These are reflective so the light is very directional. I have one head fixed with a cold light, and one with a warm light. .. that is the light they give off has tonal value. The cold light is like bright white and the warm light is more yellow. I can use either depending on what I am painting. Or I can use both at once focused on one area to create a neutral light.
    With set up… it doesn’t need to be exactly like the book. If you prefer painting left handed but want to use the book as a guide; try putting a mirror in front of it and set up according to the mirror.
    Hope that helps. Your work amazes me. Keep watching next week for the completion of my current project. It’s exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

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