Monday, 20 February 2012

How to Solve the “Small Studio” Problem

My working room is smaller than a campervan, my walls are cream, magnolia to be more precise, and my easel occupies nearly half the space when I put a canvas on it. Yes, I am an (aspiring) artist and no, I haven't made it onto the property ladder yet. What is the relevance of the latest you may ask? I am currently renting the house I live in which means that I can’t stain the walls and the carpet as I wish.  Between trying out new carpet cleaning techniques and covering the stains on my walls with the brush of a paint sample pot, my art is suffering. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those misunderstood artists suffering quietly, but due to all of the above inconveniences, I can’t do what I want with my art.

I am always admiring the artists I see on TV who, in the heat of the moment, just throw their buckets of paint onto their canvases. Not to mention splashing various colours all over to create a cosmic effect. Or a field of wild flowers. Or an abstract garden.  Instead, I am stuck with my not-very-adventurous, semi-abstract and folk art, which I enjoy creating by the way. I just wish I could relieve that inner tumult that is dying to show off. In a good way.

If you too have a small studio, there are a few tips to help you maintain the space clean, free from obstacles and more suitable for your creative outbursts.  

Solving the space problem

You can solve the space problem by buying a book case where you can store all your art materials, art books, sketchbooks, art magazines and other useful/useless items found in an artist’s studio. You can organise your work within reaching distance from the book case in order to easily get the brushes, palette knives and colours. Instead of being all over the place, they could be all over one level of the furniture. You may want to extend your artistic skills and paint the book case in your favourite colours. Buying a cheap one from a car boot sale or a charity shop could be perfect for such a project.  Plus, you already have the materials for the make-over which is a bonus. Alternatively, you could add just a few personal touches like flowers, leaves or an original design.

Solving the stains problem

Put a blanket or a decorator’s mat over the carpet and you can do anything you want with your art. You can buy one that has insulation underneath so the paint won’t get through. But if you still manage to stain the only tiny carpet patch left uncovered in the whole room (these things do happen), it is a good idea to clean it straight away to make sure it won’t stain the carpet. When the paint is water based, soak a clean cloth in soapy warm water and place it on the stain. Put a heavy object on top of it and leave it for four to five hours. The cloth will absorb the colour leaving the carpet clean. If the paint is oil based, then you can use white spirit by applying it onto the stain and removing it with a cloth or a paper kitchen towel. Repeat the procedure until the carpet is clean. It is a good idea to have an all-purpose spot and stain remover in case you discover some old stains that you previously missed. Instructions may vary according to the label.

Tip: When removing a stain, work your way from the outside to the inside and try not to rub too strongly as the paint might get deeper into the fibres of the carpet which will make it more difficult to clean.

Now you can create more freely and put in practice the splashing, impasto and other spontaneous techniques as you please. Don’t forget to open the windows for good ventilation. Then make sure you don’t get the artist’s block. Mind you, there is a remedy for that too.