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Sharing some Studio Ideas and Supplies (cheap ones)

Hi All,
I just finished a total re-configuraton of my basement Studio - Carder-style, and I wanted to share some ideas I came up with and also share some useful supplies I found at great prices.
The first picture is the studio with the 5000k CFL lights. I bought the Bulbs at Batteries Plus (which now carries bulbs) for $11 each. I used inexpensive clamp-on light fixtures I got at Home Depot (I think they were around $7 each).
I put screw-in hooks on the walls near the very top and then strung 2 parallel cords from wall-to-wall so I could hang the lights (at 35 degrees), and keep them up as high as possible.

I also installed hooks and more cord around the area where I paint and hung black sheets (3 @ $4 each at my local thrift store) to block out ambient light and distractions.

To block out light from the windows, I bought these really inexpensive "Black-Out" blinds. I got them on Amazon at:
I got a 6-pack of them for $38. Home Depot has a 4-pack for about $36. These things really do a great job blocking the light and you can cut them with a utility knife to fit your windows. (they come 48"wx72"h). No tools needed-they stick on with double-sided tape.

Next, I built the Palette table, with a couple little twists. I admit, I can be a bit of a klutz when I am focused on working and I was afraid that I would bump the glass and knock it of the support arms, so I extended the arms and added some wood pieces on both ends that wrap around the sides of the glass just enough to keep it from moving. I drilled holes in the wood to hold brushes, and a glass "bowl" for medium, or... (upside-down butter dish lid - $1 at thrift store).
The wood at the ends allows enough depth for me to put 1/8" hardboard under the glass. This way I can paint the hardboard to match the color I am underpainting the canvas. I will use the color Mark uses when I do a still life or portrait. However, when I do my landscapes, I typically do an underpainting of a red oxide acrylic. I was taught by an old master oil painter, who held true to the traditional style of hot over cold, and cold over hot. The red underpainting makes the blues in my skies really light up. I will paint a couple sets of the hardboard so I can swap them out depending on what I'm painting.

I made the Shadow Box based on the one by "mrking" with some changes to the joints, I just LOVE having the drawers! I bought a bunch of knick-knacks at the thrift store so I'm ready to get started on still life paintings.

One other thing I'll mention. I often use a T-Square, Mahl Stick, 4' level and the Canvas Guard (which is a mounted replacement I made for the Mahl Stick). These are always leaning against table or something - which means I'm always knocking them over. There is an item called the "Q Claw" which is used to hold pool cues. I found the one from when I had a pool table, so I use it to hold everything up. I included a couple pictures of it in case someone might find it useful. It's rubber and grips whatever surface you put it on.

Well, all that's left is to make my Color checker and mix the SDM (thanks dencal for the link to get cheap clove oil)! By the way, Mason Jars to hold your paints - 12 pack of Kerr 8oz wide mouth jars for $12 at Ace Hardware.

Thanks to Mark, and to everyone on this site for their great ideas and resources!!!!


  • Very resourceful and I really like the brush holders on your palette table… great idea!
    Now the fun part begins… getting it all mucked up with paint!!
    Good job!! :-bd
  • dencaldencal -
    edited January 2014

    Great work and a fantastic studio.

    Only one suggestion - smaller jars (eg 1oz) reduces the air space.
    These are ideal to mix half a tube of W&N at a time

    Baby food jars are wide mouth with good seals and holds about 4 ozs. $20 for 50 on ebay.
    Or free if you have ankle biters.

  • Thanks dencal - the jars looked small in the case, but you are right, I think I'll look for some smaller ones. Unfortunately, my ankle biters are about to turn 20, so no luck there! (so much for a return on my investment!!) One of the reasons I am doing all this is so I can get better at portrait work and do justice to the photo below... (crummy cell phone photo, but you get the gist)

    One other thing I found and forgot to mention - a Black Artist's Smock on Jerry's. It's a bit pricey at $27, but the quality is really good.
  • djfedeli

    Lovely gals. Lots of portrait material there.

  • @djfedeli FWIW, I am using 8oz jars too, and to be honest, I would find it difficult to mix the SDM and paint together in a smaller jar without making a big mess. I nearly splatter paint out of the 8oz jars. I could probably just do it with greater care, but I know myself and that would end in tears. I'm mixing a full tube (40ml) of paint at a time, and I'm going to guess that the result is about 2.5oz or maybe 3oz of fully mixed paint. It should fit into a 4oz jar, but not with a lot of head room for preventing spillage in the mixing (at least the way I'm doing it).

    I love your space. I'm going to look into that Q-claw!
  • Some cool painting 'hacks'. Innovative thinking department. Also loved the brush
    'hole-ders' - inspired simplicity at it's best.
    and btw - nice work on the daughters, got a couple of my own that are a constant irrit - inspiration ;)
  • rdr - thanks for the feedback - I would rather not have my experience "end in tears" too. I think I will try to get a variety of sizes. Since a full 37ml tube of oils is about 1.25oz, I may try the 2.5 oz baby food jars I see online. I could use the 1oz jars for special mixes too I suppose.

    I have some heavy plastic sheeting left over from when I finished my basement, and I may try cutting a circle and dropping it on top of the paint in the jar to mimimize exposure to air. I can pull it out and use a palette knife to get the paint off so there is mimimal waste. Wonder if that will help?

    Q-Claw: They look to be available in 1 to 5 slots. 5 slots - Walmart for $21. Online too.

    Thank you jcdr - they are my finest work of art! (had a wee bit of help from mom too) ;) "Hole-ders"... good one! LOL.

    PLEASE, someone reassure me about the SDM. I am always trying to get my pieces to dry FASTER so I can show/ship them. How long does this extend the drying time? What are the main benefits to using the SDM? Any drawbacks?

    Thanks everyone!!
  • I use 1/2 pint 4 oz mason jars and the paint holds up fine in them for months now without refrigeration. They run about $0.80 each or 12 for $ 5.00 at Walmart.
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