How do you prepare to paint?


All my furniture and belongings have finally been delivered after a two month wait. Now it all has to be put away.

I haven’t done any art work for months, years really. I’ve finally rearranged things in a small balcony come entry come sun room at the back door of the house so that there is room for my easel and a chair, a small table that can hold paints and accoutrements. There are two plants – a Christmas cactus and a prayer plant that provide a bit of greenery. I’m planning on a small rug to keep my feet warm and to hide the imperfections of the wooden flooring.

I need to get all the boxes of supplies and materials away so that there can be some peace in my mind, which brings me to the subject I wanted to explore:

How do you prepare to paint?

I need a quiet place with no interruptions. I can’t paint and talk at the same time. I need to know where materials are when I need to reach for them. So that means my studio effects need to be in place – put away in a logical fashion.

I need for there to be little distractions. Once I’m in the swing of creation, I can listen to music but not while figuring out what I’m trying to do. The music has to be inobtrusive, low volume, soothing unless I’m in an abstract mood, ready to play with imagery and paint.

Sometimes these requirements for a start mean that I will do house cleaning the day before. I prepare to paint and find that I can’t do it before the dishes are done, or a window cleaned. Once I can get past the house stuff, I may find that I’m cleaning a palette, or making sure the brushes are in a container that I can reach easily if I have to get a fresh, clean one; or I clean off the studio workbench and put things away so that as I move collage bits or reference images around, I have space enough to play with them.

With my more imaginative work, I need to centre myself. I stand still, close my eyes, take stock of how I feel, take my emotional temperature and try to feel what colours I want to work with.


With a work that is more representational, a recording sketch of something I’ve seen, I check the composition; I crop the image in different ways to get the best one. I make some decisions as to how to start – for watercolour, a watercolour pencil drawing on the paper or a graphite one, for reference points and composition. For oils, I might start with a burnt sienna wash to explore the light-dark tonal arrangements and figure out their impact from far across the room, then check that proportions are in place.

Do you have rituals? What form do they take? Please share and leave a comment.

4 Responses to “How do you prepare to paint?”

  1. Ujwala Says:

    I’m still trying to get some routines organised so that I paint regularly. Right now I have to coax myself away from the computer. Once I start painting I forget about most things. What is in front of me takes all my attention. A break occurs when something doesnt work out. I once again get into the “now” and have to start all over again to get me back to paint.

    A recent ploy was to make sure that I sat in my “studio” and I found that helped. I would do other activities during the day but in that room and by the time the day was done i’d painted something. A week of painting everyday I got cocky and now i’m back at my computer. hmmm. Somebody asked me why I was forcing myself to paint. I tried explaining that I love to paint. It’s jsut that I find it hard to get away from the computer πŸ˜€

    Sorry to have left such a loooong comment. I’m inspired by your post to work on my routines and rituals some more. thank you πŸ˜€

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I’m rather thrilled to have a long comment. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on painting routine for me. I too have become addicted to the computer. I check it morning and night and sometimes in between. I have some legitimate things to do on it – this blog is one, I hope. I’m also doing some accounting and some communicating with others, business letters, friendly letters etc.
    I know I will get back to painting soon, but the disorder of my house from just having moved is monumental and I have to get that in some order before I can begin painting again.
    Good luck with your painting. Your method sounds good. I may try it.

  3. Idetrorce Says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I’m interested in your elliptical comment. What is it you disagree with? How do you prepare to paint?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: