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You know it’s hard enough to get motivated to paint sometimes and the last thing we need is to pile on a whole bunch of cleaning and setup before we can even get started.
We’ve finally mustered up enough motivation to get started and then we realize we have to find our art supplies, clean them up, then get them all setup.
The least motivating thing on the planet is CHORES!
Let’s talk about some ways you can avoid all the chores AND spend less time organizing and more time painting.
#1. Keep your easel out and ready
If you’re working on a painting keep it on the easel and define a place in your home or studio where it can stay all the time. (the easel I use)
Everything revolves around the painting your working on. Wherever it’s placed is where you stand or sit, where your palette goes, where you paints go and where your reference is.
So it’s best to get this placed first then build all the supply locations around it.
There is another benefit to having your easel up all the time. Not only can you get going on it faster but being able to look at your painting throughout the day can facilitate new insights on what you can improve upon for the next painting sessions.
There has been so many times when I’m going through my day and I look over at my painting and all of a sudden I’m struck with clarity for a change that will make the painting so much better.
Or more often than not I see something that I can fix that I didn’t see before.
#2. Organize your paints, mediums and brushes.
I have this awesome cart from Ikea that allows me to keep all my oil paints, mediums and brushes in one place.
It also has wheels so I can move it around my studio quickly and easily.
I put the paints I use most on the middle shelf and the paints I don’t use very often on the bottom. There no need to organize all the paints on each shelf, as long as I have the separation of most used to least used is enough to help me find tube I need quickly while I’m painting.
#3. Use a brush bath
Next you can see this in my video “Non toxic oil painting for your health” and that’s how I keep my brushes in a brush bath so I don’t have to clean them for months.
This method alone has saved me 10 to 15 minutes at the end of very painting session.
And when you paint every single day that adds up to 90 hours a year. That almost twelve 8 hour days of time saved that I spend on painting not cleaning.
#4. Get a cover for your palette.
This is helpful for several reasons. It keeps your paints from drying out too quickly and it keeps the cats from jumping on a wet palette and tracking oil paint through the house.
YIKES! that would be a nightmare!
I have this thing I made out of canvas panels that fold over my palette. It keeps my paints protected and wet. Especially when I put a cotton swab full of clove oil in it and cover it with a bag.
I could even put this the freezer to keep the paint fresh for much longer.
I love this palette holder I made because it fits the easel I have perfectly and it goes right below my painting. Wherever the painting is the palette goes with it. In studio, in the living room, or outside painting a landscape. The same setup no matter where I go.
Rather than making one of these I would suggest you get one of these Sta Wet Palette Covers. Honestly I think it’s more air tight than what I purchased. I know many artists that use this for multiple painting mediums and it works better in the freezer.
#5. Clean your palette
After each painting session if you have mixed paint clean it off. 90% of the time this paint will dry way faster than any of the piles of paint on your palette. And it’s much easier to clean off while it’s wet than when it’s dry.
I use a glass palette and when you pair it with a razor blade it makes cleaning the palette super easy and fast.
#6 Track your setup and take down time
Look at your watch after you finish painting and see how long it takes you to clean up with your current methods. Before you start a painting see how long it takes you to put brush to canvas.
What takes you the most time to setup?
Putting paints out on the palette?
Setting up the easel?
Cleaning your palette?
Or just finding your supplies?
What takes the most time to cleanup?
Putting your easel away?
Cleaning your palette?
Cleaning your brushes?
Then take some time to find a way to reduce the time here. Remember you can make one change here, either on the setup or take down, that has the potential to save months of your time every year.
#7 Lights, still life, reference
Some other ideas that kind of go along with what I’ve already talked about but I want to get specific.
If you working inside you need to have some lights. I have this awesome Apurture light with a soft box that lights my paintings now. I used to have some cheap shop lights before. Either works. The light dome is better though. But the main part is to have it setup with your easel and left there ready at just a flick of the switch.
If you work from a still life. Set it up and leave it. Most likely it’s going to be next to your easel.
If you work from references have them organized. Either digitally or with photos have a specific place where you collect all your references and organize them enough so you can have the latest one at your easel and any others you need easy to find.
With these 7 ideas you will be able to accomplish the most important thing. Removing friction from the point you decided to paint to actually putting paint to canvas. You never know when your motivation is going to leave you so be prepared.
But what if you follow all these steps and you have everything setup and ready to go but you just don’t have enough time in your day? I’ve got the perfect video to help you out with that right here.
Check it out and have a wonderful week!