How my office turned into my studio

Recently, I started hanging my finished paintings in my “studio.” The studio was originally “the office,” until the easel arrived. Then, I started calling it the studio. Makes me feel like a real artist! I feel proud when I glance over and see what I’ve accomplished. The wall motivates me. Plus, the wall, was a plain, boring thing, before the paintings brighten things up!


Another benefit to hanging my work, is “seeing” my development. I try to learn from my mistakes, but not to fixate on them. What’s done is done. I love the orange I painted awhile back. Shortly after it, I tried to follow up that success with limes, but I don’t like them as much. The limes are too flat looking. There isn’t enough shading to make it 3D looking. When I look at my apple, I feel like I made a giant leap forward.

orange limes apples

One thing I need to do, is sign my paintings! My drawing teacher, Eva, always stressed, “Sign your work!” Before the Tootsie Roll painting, I hadn’t signed most of my paintings. I didn’t feel confident signing with a paintbrush. I knew it was a mistake, to not do it then, because I had all the colors mixed and ready. Now, I’m not sure what color I’ll sign them in. Do most painters sign in black? Awhile back I signed a couple of paintings with a paint pen and immediately hated the way it looked. It wasn’t loose enough. You could tell, I didn’t use a paintbrush. When I finished the Tootsie Roll, I practice with a couple of small stiff brushes, and was able to do a decent signature. But, I still need practice. Nothing finalizes a painting, like signing your name!

I’ve also been organizing the office (I mean the studio!). It’s therapeutic to clean, organize and get rid of the clutter. I feel inspired looking through my old stuff and it reminds me of projects I was interested in, but didn’t pursue…yet.

I have a bulletin board that runs the length of my counter top. I’d like to better utilize it as a “project board,” and include reference photos, notes, and inspiration for current and future projects. I spent time on the project board this morning, and I’m already, loving the results! Notice, front and center is the bike, which I have yet to complete. Hard to forget about it now!

Spending time on my workspace, helps me work more efficiently. It clears my mind. Now, I feel ready to get to work!

project board 2

Procrastination and Painting

Today was the first day, in weeks, that I’ve had a quiet house, all to myself. The kids were at school, and my husband was at work. Perfect day to paint, right? Right! After a second cup of coffee, it was time to get started.

But, first I had to clean out my pocketbook, throw in a load of laundry, clean my palettes, find tissues, and search for ‘8os music. What? It seemed like I was doing everything to avoid starting. And the ’80’s music? I have no idea, where that, came from. But, after I got a pandora station playing ’80s alternative music, I was a happy camper and got to work. (After I found hand cream and cleaned the papers off my desk!)

Over the weekend, I painted a purple/blue medium tone for the base coat of my jellyfish painting. As I mixed the color, I thought, “How much should I mix?” Ironically, I had to mix the color, no joke, four times. I, obviously, underestimated how much paint, the raw canvas needed! The color wasn’t the same every time I mixed it, but the base color will be covered, for the most part.

As I worked, I focused on being neater. I took the time to set up the area around my easel. Each time I work with the easel, things go smoother. But, the easel is still a little unstable. Could it be that extra screw, I didn’t use?! Read my recent post and you’ll see why I don’t read instructions! Part of my homework for next time is to fix this problem.)

As I was mixing my colors (from thalo blue, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow), I realized that I may not be able to achieve the electric purple in the photo. I may have to incorporate a premixed color. Not only was I struggling with the background color, I was struggling with the color of the jellyfish. I printed a reference photo and marked a simple grid on it. On my canvas, with painters tape, I marked the same halfway points. I wanted to make sure that the jellyfish, were in the correct spots. I “sketched” the shapes of the jellyfish (using paint).


I may have procrastinated starting, but time flew as I worked. I painted for almost two hours, and I think I accomplished a lot. I didn’t achieve the bright purple background color, but I’m happy with the color I have.


I was so focused on cleaning up, that I almost forgot to write my plan for the next day. Through the process of writing this blog, I’ve come to realize how important, for me, a plan is. For the jellyfish painting, my plan is to work on refining the color of the jellyfish. Since I’ve been struggling, I’m going try using the eyedropper tool, in Adobe Photoshop, to help me pinpoint the colors in the photo.

I wish there was an “undo” button, while I’m painting

I was very excited to try out my new easel. I was less excited, to continue painting my apple. I need to coin a phrase, to describe the feeling I get, on day two of a project. Day one, I’m excited and enthusiastic. Day two, I’m reluctant, anxious, intimidated. Whatever the word, I have to push myself to continue with a project. Do other creative people feel this way?

Regardless of how I was feeling, I got to work on my apple. I set the easel up near the window, for natural light. Logistically, it was a nightmare. I was so far away from my palettes, with my mixed paint. And even further from the computer, where my reference photo was on the screen. (The color is never as good when I print it.) I stood at my easel, and every time I tried to get closer to the painting, I’d kick one of the legs and the whole easel would tilt.

I was working on the bottom quarter of the painting, the table, where the apples sit. In order, to be able, to paint the bottom edge, I turned the painting upside down. My acrylic painting teacher told me, to make an area (like a table) less flat looking, paint it dark to light or warm to cool (or the reverse of either). I decided to darken the table as I got closer to the apples. I also added in some greens, for the stem and the area around the seeds.

I was, feeling all over the place (literally), and I was in a rush, as I had to leave the house at a specific time. As I was adding a bit more paint, before I left, I literally said out loud, “I have to stop, I’m ruining it.” Before I left, I turned the painting right side up.

While I was out, all I could think about, was that I ruined the painting. I loved it the first day. Maybe I shouldn’t have done the gradual darkening of the table? Maybe I should have left it “flat” looking? Isn’t that a painting style?

I wish there was an “undo” button. When I work, as a Graphic Designer, any time I don’t like the last couple steps I’ve taken, I just click “Edit, Undo.” There is also “Edit, Step Backward,” and “Revert to Saved.” Basically, there are tons of ways, to go back to where you started. Sometimes, while painting, I wish I had one of these options.

A funny thing happened when I got home. I turned on the light, saw the apple painting on the easel, and thought, “Wow, it looks good!” I was so surprised.

A couple of days later, when I had time to paint, I knew what area I wanted to work on. I realized having a plan, made starting up easier. I didn’t feel as intimidated. Also, I know from experience, once I get started, I’m usually fine. I now know, that before I step away from I project, I need to have a plan for the next day.

Working with the easel, was much better, the second time around. I printed my reference photo and hung it near the easel. I brought my palette to the easel, instead of walking back and forth. Be prepared to laugh. I realized the curved area on either side of my easel, is so I can comfortably hold it! I sat on a stool and didn’t kick the easel once!


As far as the painting itself, I darkened the background directly behind the apples. I added details to all the apples. The only thing I need to finish, is the stem and the area behind the stem. That is my plan, and I am excited to attack it next time!


Do you paint flat or use an easel?

With a background in drawing and painting in watercolor, I was used to working flat at a table. When I showed up for my first acrylic painting class, I was (almost) surprised to find that everyone had an easel to work at. It felt strange painting at an easel – holding my arm up in the air. After the class ended, I continued to paint more and more in acrylics, always flat on a table or on the floor. I began to wonder if I should be using an easel. Some online research (on revealed some interesting points including, “work vertically, because the painting will be displayed vertically.”

Things to consider when deciding to work flat vs. at an easel:

  • How large do you work? It’s easier to work on an easel with larger paintings than a table.
  • Viewing your painting. You can back away from an easel, to “take in” and view a painting, especially the larger ones.
  • Do you add fine details? I find it easier to add details when the painting is flat and I can lean on the canvas.
  • Acrylic vs. oils – Oils take longer to dry and dust can be an issue as it dries when a painting is laying flat.
  • Do you have a dedicated space for an easel?

I invested in an aluminum easel. It’s lightweight but sturdy and folds up for storing. Learn more here. It looks so professional, and I love displaying my latest painting on it! There’s even an arm that extends to hold my brushes and palette!

Want to explore creativity? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums. Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

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