Technique of Watercolor Painting: WC08 WORKSPACE

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The watercolor painting workspace plays a vital part in the success of a watercolorist.

It is easier and more productive having a private room to work. Some painters need more space than others. Having your own workspace is a great privilege. Not everyone has the good fortune to have even the desire to paint let alone their own workspace where they can experiment and learn to develop a God given talent.

Adopt a permanent workspace if you can. At any time of the day or night the workspace should be accessible and allow freedom to commence work with immediate effect. There should be no need to ask others to leave or remove the belongings of others out of the way. The workspace should be set aside and dedicated for your painting work alone. Think of it as a sort of shrine and be jealous of others going anywhere near your workspace without at your request. Privacy can not be overstated. Try to keep the aura of the workplace entirely own. You do not allow the vibrations of others to invade where you paint as young children pets and nosy family members at the wrong time can be a pain.

Always locate at right angles to a window from your left side. This helps to give a strong feeling of light direction in your work. Watercolor painting is all about light. Oil and Acrylic painters create their own light quality in their work. Watercolor painters have this for free by retaining the light already in the paper. It is unwisely to paint watercolors in artificial light.

If you have a garden erect a lockable well insulated timber shed. The shed should be located windows facing north and built to allow for extension. Direct light from the sun reflected by the paper up into the eyes will cause glare and make it impossible to work. It is better in the case of a garden shed to fix a worktop along the whole length of the shed first making sure the distance between the back edge of the entrance door frame and the inside face of the window wall is sufficient to accommodate the front to back dimension of the worktop.

Fix a standpipe near the entrance door for water. It will be good to connect an electric power supply.

Materials should be ready available and in place. It should not be necessary to start cleaning brushes or the work desk or looking for lost equipment before starting work. If possible lock the door against unwanted entry and only allow others in under your supervision. Do not lend anything to anyone. Before starting work the most you should need to do is get fresh water to mix some colors. Start each work session as if afresh.

Your drawing board on which the paper [ground] will rest should be large enough to accommodate the size of your paper with about 5 inches plus all round. Perhaps the optimum board size is 800 x 600 x 18mm thick – white laminate faced. The extra space is used to rest the hand or to place test strips of paper cut from cheaper watercolor paper or the back of discarded spoiled work. Pin a cotton strip 4 inches wide 2 feet long to the right of the board into the edge of the worktop for quick cleaning. Also use half a hand towel for drying hands.

The ground is not stretched nor pinned nor fixed to the board in any way. This will allow the paper to be quickly positioned in response to the movement of the watercolor.

A board tilt block should be softwood [resin-free] about 70 x 120mm. The softwood tilt is lightweight for quick removal when required. A good idea is to cover the tilt with blanket material to stop board rock.

I use a flush door as a worktop resting on bookcases. Its working height has to suit you – crotch height when standing. Suspend a tray shelf below 4 inches clear for ports.

Over the worktop I lay double heavy white canvas sailcloth. Below the worktop is a basket for waste paper and unwanted bits. On the floor where I stand is a thick rug or strip of carpet to keep the feet warm and to prevent slipping.

I sit on a draftsman's adjustable height and back revolve chair. I have a wooden angled footrest with a mat on it – for use when left.

On the wall is a chalkboard for quick idea sketching notes

To the right of board I have two white enameled gas oven trays for palettes and behind the board I have additional narrows trays for water buckets.
On these trays are all the painting materials for quick removal. To the left behind the board are test papers strips and cleaning paper rolls. A one-sided graduated stainless steel straight edge is wall hung. All white kitchen paper roll is used to dab watercolor clouds painting. Toilet rolls to the right are used to clean and dry the oven trays.

To the left of board are reference books color and other pencils. Also draftsman tools setsquares compasses dividers the lot. Build up these supplies gradually as needed. Do not waste money. On a separate table I let paintings to dry under mount and glass. Do not forget the computer!

Try to keep the air at constant temperature and humidity. Try to position the workplace so you can move around everything. Avoid having the worktop with the long edge against the wall if possible – except of course in the case of a garden shed studio. It is then easier to keep the studio clean and tidy.

Please remember painting is a very private world where problems arising from the difficulties of the work need an advance in personal development before their solution is possible. It is advisable to keep mentally and physically fit. Resist depressions like the plague. Keep your spirits refreshed and positive at all times.

My very best wishes.


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