Friday, July 6, 2012

tools of the trade

I enjoy visiting another artists work space, whether here at the studio where there are 4 others or out and about in Napa, Sonoma or San Francisco.

When we have shows here at the studio, many visitors either peer into my mysterious cauldrons of varnish, poke at the many paint brushes or ask questions about my tools, some dull and obvious, others slightly more exotic.

The end justifies the means.

I'm a scissor freak. I use scissors of course, but the freak part comes because I need to always have a pair available when I want them, where I want them. So, I have many scissors...everywhere. And, when I see a particularly good deal on them, I buy in multiples, about half a gross at a time. Cause that's what scissor freaks do. Duh.

My rolling cart.
I'm an advocate of the big purse/small purse rule. The bigger it is, the more you put in it and carry around. Not necessarily stuff you need.
Rolling carts are the same. Do I need to have at hand every darn little thing in my studio supply arsenal? Of course not. But the daily supplies? Hell, yes. So I choose a compact albeit simple rolling cart. Enough shelves for efficiency and options, sides to drive in a screw or two to hang an odd tool and adequate height as to not have to lean over to mix paint, or just work. I'm not a tall person by any means, but I've had tables that I've leaned over and they've quickly been shown the door.
The second item in the photo, although in the foreground and not given the credit it so deserves, is my chef's mat. Life at the studio changed for me once my chefs mat was in place. These pricey buggers can get up in the hundred dollar range, but of course I found mine at a home decor discount store and scored this 2x3' number for forty. I spend much of my work time in the studio on my feet and this is a life (feet/back) saver.

Paint tube storage/organizer thingy. Oh, how I love good organization.Gone are the days of rooting through a drawer for a particular paint color or trying to figure out if a particular color needs to be replenished. This little shelving number was free, ehem, found on the sidewalk and is truly one of the best tools in my studio. I put a dot of paint on the white cap of the paint tube so that at a glance I know what colors I am running low on. I blend my own colors from a basic palette that I don't often stray, so to me it's imperative that I always have these basics on hand. It makes me happy. And what's better than a happy artist? Nothing.

And whilst we're on the subject of paint tubes, this little gem is how I squeeze out 200ml's of paint at a time. I create a fair amount of art that is large format and for large format work, large quantities of paint are needed, not little dime size squirts on the palette, but rather large heaps, akin to a fair sized potato. Since my hands take a beating using many tools and I've subjected myself to hand surgery, I look for and use tools that will assist me in the avoidance of strain. An this little squeezie-outie does just that.
I've really got my technical terminology down.

And lastly, from top to bottom, coated copper wire, 5/8" wood screws and d-rings. The un-sung heroes of art for the wall, they hold it all together in the back of your painting and make it all right with the world, or at least your wall. Yes, fairly boring stuff, but to not finish out a painting with the correct hanging hardware is just stupid. Oh, and lazy. If and artist wants to sell his/her hanging wall art (I'm only addressing paintings as that's what I am, a painter) they should darn well take the extra step and make that art hanging ready. I can't tell you how many artists I know that don't do this and think their painting is finished once that signature goes on. Geez. When someone falls in love with your painting and wants it in their life, do they really want to take it home and hunt down hanging hardware? uh, no.

Before I launch into a vein popping diatribe about sloth and the artist, I'll leave you fair reader with the aforementioned list of favorite studio tools. Use wisely.
Any favorite tools of your trade?

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