workspace + supplies

While I can't share the two big paintings I'm working on this week just yet, I wanted to share my workspace and some of the supplies I'm using on them. I get a lot of emails and comments asking what materials I use... maybe if there is enough of a demand I'll put together a more in-depth studio tour someday, but for now here's a peek at what I'm using right now.

workspace/supplies

Building a bigger workspace was one of the best decisions I ever made! This big long DIY sawhorse table has more than enough room for me to spread out my supplies and still have a little space for sketching, cutting, and spilling coffee.

workspace/supplies

The paintbrushes are a given. I also love colored oil pencils. I use a spray bottle of plain water to mist paint while it's still wet. On a flat surface this creates a pebbly effect, while on a vertical canvas it creates translucent drips of paint. I also use it to "erase" acrylic paint, even after it has dried. The four types of gloss/gel/adhesive I use are Minwax water-based polycrylic finish (water-based, but wear gloves and have good ventilation), glossy and matte ModPodge, and Golden Soft Gel. You just have to play around with each type alongside different materials to figure out what combinations you like the best, as each will have vastly different effects on different materials... experience and practice really are the best teachers.

(Two of my favorite discoveries: using Minwax to attach wet paper to a collage will render the paper/material almost translucent and give it more depth; using a coat of glossy ModPodge will allow you to "erase" anything you paint on top of it with a wet sponge until you get it the way you like. Cool right?)

workspace/supplies

Mixed media is my favorite type of painting style because using found materials and thinking about how I can incorporate those materials allows me to "say more" in a piece of my artwork than if I was limited to just paint. Other supplies I use regularly are sandpaper (fine, medium and very course) and a rough sponge to distress layers of paint and photos, as well as nails, tacks, metal rulers and aluminum scraps, and scraps of fabric. The blue gauzy fabric was an old scarf and the other two pieces are from a cotton shirt.

workspace/supplies

Metal, printed words for gel transfers, tacks, fabric.

workspace/supplies

This pair of scissors was like $5 on sale at Michael's, but cuts everything from metal to canvas to sandpaper daily. Old letters and envelopes are obviously a favorite material of mine... some of the paper ephemera I use is over 100 years old (when someone in Chicago could write just someone's name and "Boston" on an envelope and know it would reach them) (I am beyond dorky because I think that is so cool) and have an incredible texture and patina that can't be replicated. These old papers really give life and depth to a painting. I find most of the paper I use at estate sales and consignment stores but occasionally friends will find some and pass it along my way.

workspace/supplies

Obligatory "Chubby Boots watching the seagulls" photo... like Gracie, he seems to love being in my studio while I'm working and it makes me smile. My paints are almost exclusively Golden brand Heavy Body acrylics... aside from the paint being good quality and not too expensive if you buy it in bulk/online, the tops are big and very airtight... not those tiny tops that are impossible to screw on once they get a little dried paint around the mouth of the tube or the inside of the cap.

Some supplies not shown: a hammer, spray paint, knives for scraping/shaping paint, Chartpak Ad felt tip markers, india ink, tissue paper, coffee/tea used to stain/dye materials, masking tape, license plates, recycled sari fabric, yarn and thread, stencils, stamps, and a bin of the random pieces of metal that show up everywhere around South Boston.

I hope that was helpful! Experimenting with different materials -- even ones that are not specifically art supplies -- has made the biggest difference in my artwork process and has really helped me develop my style over the last few years. As media critic and philosopher Marshall McLuhan once said (although it often mistakenly attributed to artist Andy Warhol), "Art is what you can get away with." Don't be afraid to throw something new or weird into your cache of art possibilities!