Art Studio Tools

Some of my favorite tools are FREE, while some are worthy enough to purchase. I also have a few favorite studio tools that are helpful and sentimental because they have been custom-made by my family and friends. 

Recently, I had a FREE pastel demonstration at THE OLD SCHOOL and table space was very limited. I taped out various sizes & types of pastel paper onto a scrap cardboard box which acted as painting support for my light portable easel. The natural folds of the box were utilized to make for a handy stand-up folding table display. The triangle-shaped box when folded was also a great way for smudge-free transportation of my finished pastels. I used the green painters' tape because it is not overly sticky and can be lifted on and off the cardboard for easy opening and closing of the display. It was not FANCY but great in a pinch and FREE.

VIEW CATCHER is a handy viewfinder:  This is a well-made plastic tool that is durable, multi-purpose & easy to use. For under $10.00 the cost of this tool, SAYS don't waste your time making one. 

CHECK IT OUT on Youtube as other artists have demonstrated how they use the View Catcher to help in their artmaking.

I LOVE the View Catcher and use it ALL the time when painting and drawing as it helps with judging the color temperatures and the values as the plastic tool is grey colored in the mid 5 value range. It also helps to narrow down the perfect composition that will fit the paper/canvas or can do it in reverse order and find the VIEW first then make the paper/ canvas to fit the size of the VIEW to paint. 

I will hold the View Catcher out in front of my eye, sliding the inside movable tab to the proportion of the paper/canvas I am working.  OR find the BEST view first and make the paper/canvas size to fit. Its a great tool for still life set-ups, life drawing and outside landscape painting as it helps to remove the overwhelming distractions of all the visual stimulus coming from every direction as it narrows down a composition that works. 

I also use the View Catcher throughout my painting & drawing process as it helps me check out when stepping back from the painting to check for any issues in color temperatures and values that might be out of place. 

Drafting Tools: I have some old drafting tools and the 16 inch triangle clear plastic tool is used for every drawing and painting I create as it helps me set up my angles in design and to draw straight horizontal and vertical lines quickly. I also have a smaller triangle that works out well for smaller sketch books.

Carpenters Level: After I finish a painting, its off to the photo room and use the level to keep my paintings aligned with my camera. When it comes to hanging art, its a quick way to make sure its straight as nothing worse then looking at a crooked paintings on the wall!

Paper towels and painting palettes are an expense that could be diminished by using the FREE phone book for wiping and even mixing paint. It also cuts way down on rags and brushes cleaner during the painting process. The phone book's paper is smooth and has a durable sealed surface so the painting and mediums don't soak in too far into the paper. Works great for the palette knife too. Once the phone book paper is filled up, just roll the page towards the spine of the phone book and rip from the top edge for easy disposal and instantly there is a new clean sheet ready to use. 

Plastic, metal, wood, and glass throw-away containers have multi-uses in my studio. I used to eat a lot of sushi when I lived in Vancouver and collected the chopsticks over the years and always find a use for the wood chopsticks like spreading glue on large areas and tucking glue into tight areas, mixing paint, etc. 

Scraps of wood that came with shipping goods come in handy often for when I am painting a flat surface and want to lift it off the tabletop and always use it under my canvas and panels when I apply gesso so it doesn't stick to the newspaper and leave a bad lumpy drip edge stuck with newsprint. 

The plastic food containers come in handy for holding STUFF and are great for mixing paint, varnishes, etc., and when they are finished, into the recycling bin they go. 

I use tin cans of various sizes for varnishes and brush cleaners as well as they work great for pencil and brush holders.

It is always a problem to find places in the house and studio to store art supplies such as large sheets of drawing & pastel paper so it doesn't get damaged. My sister Colleen and her ex-mate Larry, designed and handcrafted for me a portable paper holder that I could also take with me as a portable tabletop if I needed to use it in a pinch. The inside has an elastic strap that can hold the paper flat when in transportation. The portable paper holder works well for long-term storage for 18" x 24" paper sizes. This can be slid under a bed, or tucked into a closet as its slim design allows it to be stored in a variety of places.

I got the idea of the armrest from a friend of mine who loves to paint ICON-style paintings and she bought her armrest from her Russian Icon painting teacher, as it helps to keep your arms and hands OFF the painting surface. When I saw this handy tool, I wanted one too! I did an exchange with a carpenter neighbor and had him make me 2 sizes for different widths of paper and he made the armrests out of scraps of wood, sanding the edges nice and smooth. I use the armrests all the time for detail work and also love the straight edge of the wood that makes for drawing and painting straight edges without using a pre-drawn line.

May some of my ideas for studio tools help you out in your artistic pursuits! Minaz


Anonymous said...

I love the armrest idea. Would help to also minimize carpel tunnel I would think

Artist Minaz Jantz said...

The arm rest tool does allow for longer sessions of drawing/painting and think it would minimize carpel tunnel issues. It also allows fine detail work to be done without the arm wrist shaking then tiring...easel painters use what is called a Maulstick for up right painting...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maulstick

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