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Home  Basics and Skills  Setting Up Your Supplies

    a basic set-up


Setting Up Your Painting Supplies

  • Ideal Location
  • Best Lighting
  • Arranging supplies to your suit your needs




You now have all these wonderful watercolor supplies just waiting to find a place to call "home" somewhere on your painting table. The question is, how do you arrange them in a way that best suits your needs while you are painting?

Below is a basic guide on how you can set up your watercolor painting supplies. Information on location, lighting, where to place your brushes, palettes, water containers, ect., along with other suggestions on how to make your painting experience as comfortable and practical as possible.

 
Ideal Location
 
You will want to set yourself up in a room or area that you can feel most comfortable in. Try not to banish yourself to an area of the house just because it's available. You want a place that is pleasant to work in, somewhere you could easily spend 3 or 4 hours a day painting and not want to leave, preferably by a window facing north.
 

Lighting
 
For best results, the artificial lighting in your room should be adjusted to be color correct. Flourescent and incandescent bulbs produce a warm light, making it difficult to achieve accurate color results in your painting, especially when working with watercolors that are red or orange. A lighting store can help set you up with the correct bulbs or fixtures.
 
GE Reveal® 100 watt

light bulblighting comparison

Before    After  
  GE offers a relatively inexpensive solution to your lighting needs with their Reveal® series of light bulbs. If you are budget minded, and only have table lamps, you might want to give these a try. Note: you will want your lamp shade to be white as not to conflict with the bulb. floor lampdesk lamp OttLite® lamps offer full spectrum lighting, with the perfect balance of contrast and brightness. They are available in both floor and table lamps.

In the Arranging image below, the floor lamp is set up to the left of the workspace, and the table lamp set up on the right.

Arranging
 
If you are familiar with watercolor, you have probably already established a comfortable painting area and your supplies are conveniently arranged. But if you are new to watercolor and would like some guidance, here are a few suggestions.


 
set-up example one

An ideal layout for a person who is right-handed.
 
set-up example two    This layout would be ideal for a person who is left-handed.


Set up your supplies on a nice sturdy table that won't shake while you're working, a table that will allow you enough room to spread out.

Since I am right-handed all of my painting supplies are to the right of my work surface (as shown in the image above on the right). When painting I hold tissues in my left hand so I place the tissue box to the left. My work surface is a Masonite board that I tape my watercolor paper to. The board has been elevated approximately 3" (7.6cm) at the back by a 3" (7.6cm) ringed binder which can be purchased from an office supply store.

I have my brushes laying on folded paper towels that I will be using for blotting the color and water out of my brushes while painting. The two water containers are filled approximately 3/4 full with clean water. My paints are to the right of my mixing tray, making it easy to take my brush from the water container to the mixing tray. From the mixing tray to the paints, back to the mixing tray, and then back to the water. Have your palettes, water and brushes all together and as close to you as possible to avoid reaching or stretching while painting. My 140 lb. paper for testing my colors and values is to the left, as are the other supplies that I occasionally use.

Remember, this is just one way to set up your workspace. While you are practicing watercolor painting, you'll adjust your supplies and work area to accommodate your needs.

personal note   You never  want to leave your brushes in your water container. This will cause the brush hairs to bend at the tip and will ruin the point. Lay your brushes on your folded paper towels until you need them. If you are no longer using a brush, place it upright in a container. I use a clear tall drinking glass to store mine.




 
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