Thursday, July 3, 2014

Favorite Art Supplies for the Oil Painter



Something happened three years ago. My hands got dry and crusty, my back hurt, I started getting carpal tunnel in my right arm, and I loved every minute of it. That was because I had quit my desk job and become a full time artist. Now, instead of my butt permanently molding to an office chair, I got to MOVE all day and was happy to trade any office perks for a life of constant paint crusted, un-manicured hands. My job hazards had changed and I couldn't be happier. I also traded in my office supplies for different tools and attire. My wedges had to go ( I tried painting in them a few times, but, well, I'm sure you can imagine how that worked out. Ahhh vanity...  :) ) and were replaced with the dreaded tennis shoes because my feet and back were killing me. Pens became brushes and paper became canvas. Computer work became blogging, marketing, accounting, and keeping up with orders. My hours went from 9-5 to 7-3 or 11- 10 or 8-4 depending on what the day held. When I think of my days now, I can't imagine living without these tools, my buddies, the items that shape my day and help grow me and my work.

My favorite tools of the trade.


1.) My 6" x 6" mini canvases and palette knives. I set up these little canvases at my easel or on my work table and let the ADD kick in and go to town painting on 6 or 10 at a time. They allow my brain to work on a form of post-it notes- small chunks of ideas going on to each canvas as inspiration hits and working each one in parts until beautiful compositions come together. I noticed massive growth  in my work when I moved to this system. It fits how my brain spits out info and ideas and it makes me really happy and the best part? I get to make the rules now! It's an odd transition and I forget sometimes that there really are no rules in this profession and it's liberating. As neurotic as they are, these "rules" work for me, and I like it! Those palette knives? Man, they are great! I'm working towards adding more huge chunks of paint into paintings- get ready, palette knives are coming out!


2. ) My over-sized toothpaste squeezer! Do you know how giddy I get when I use this thing? Artists out there, can you see how flat this squeezer gets that tube? I was getting so frustrated at how much paint was getting stuck in the tube and how much I was throwing away. I literally googled "industrial paint tube squeezer" and found this bad boy on Amazon. I use it every day and my heart sings to the tune of dollars in the bank instead of out.


3.) My paint splattered easels. A messy easel is a happy easel. If it's clean, you haven't put in enough hours on it yet. David got this in college for Christmas one year when his mom found a sale at Michaels. I inherited it when he moved to watercolors and I started painting big. This little lady and I have laughed, cried, danced, and stomped, (maybe a little cussing) together for several years now and she recently got a new friend when the big arse easels went on sale this spring. I use them to set big pieces on when working on a series or a pair for a client. I can't quit you two. I just can't.


4.) Brush babies. It is absolutely amazing how attached one crazy artist can get to her brushes. Do I have favorites? Yes, I do (don't tell the other brushes). I have so many and I find myself using the same 10 over and over. It's hard to find ones that have the perfect ratio of brush length to brush hair and bristle flexibility or any other dorky quality we look for in our brushes. These are probably the most personal art supply I have and if someone robs us, take the tv, please don't take my brushes...   

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inexpensively Style a Small Space : An Apartment Tour!

Today is apartment tour day! A good friend of mine recently located to Jackson, MS and styled her apartment so beautifully. Lauren is a decorator and oozes style whether in her outfits or her home. I'm really excited to showcase her pad and have her share her secret tips on inexpensive ways to furbish your home with beautiful treasures. If you're in the Jackson area (and sometimes she comes to Memphis!), look her up (contact info at the bottom of the post)!

When my dear friend Hillary asked me if I would mind sharing a "tour" of my apartment with you, I didn't hesitate in saying yes! Many of us have gone through lots of transitions in life, and mine included moving from a much larger space to the current one that I call home. What has been reinforced to me through this process is that home is wherever you make it, and surrounding yourself with things that you love is what decorating is truly about. I thought I would share a few things that I have learned through this process in pictures (please bear with me as I am not a photographer).

I must start with the fact that these two fabulous pieces from Hillary are what I used as a jumping off point. It's always nice to have a place of inspiration to start that you can build from. White walls called for color elsewhere, and this was the perfect palate.


Most of what I own has been either thrifted and re-purposed, or passed down. Only a few of my key pieces are "new." I feel very strongly about the fact that a mix of new/old, free/purchased, natural/refinished is what builds a comfortable space.


I have also learned that everything need not be perfect (hence the animals in literally EVERY SINGLE SHOT). Just go with it and do what makes you happy. If you have big, empty walls but no big art, use several items to create one large piece. Create a center line around the room (around eye level) and hang each piece's center at that point. Don't try to align the tops or bottoms of your art.


Trends come and go. We are saturated with blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc... these days that tell us what we need to be doing in our decorating. Stick with the classics and keep trends to a minimum. Don't let someone tell you something you love is "out" or not "on trend."


Balance your amount of neutrals and colors/prints and solids. Just make sure that there is a constant color or theme among them to keep everything pleasing to the eye and not a hot mess.


Don't be afraid to go in a thrift store. Those vintage Vogue posters didn't find themselves.


 Pretty pieces can still have a purpose. Those baskets hold an array of sins and because of my limited storage space are a necessity.


Always have a place to mix your cocktails. Always.


Books don't always have to go on a shelf or in a closet. No storage for me meant mine went to work as decorative pieces. 


 I'm grateful for this open storage in my kitchen. It meant my love of all things decorative china didn't have to be suppressed. And I use these pieces more than I ever did when they were packed away in a cabinet!



Also don't be afraid to treasure "one man's trash." Don't think that I didn't get lots of weird looks as I picked up these shutters from the side of the road. Some braces and a little protective coating and they are the centerpiece of the bedroom.


 Once again, surround yourself with things that you love. My Dutch roots are all over this tiny space, and I love that.


A weird wall + excessive amounts of framed things = this solution. Don't be afraid to have personality in your space. I love that all of these things surround the dresser my Opa made so many years ago. I don't dare touch it with paint. And yes, Justin Timberlake stares into my soul every night before bed.


 Once again, give decorative things a purpose.


White bedding is the best. OK, let me rephrase that. White, washable bedding is the best. If I told you those stools were $10 a piece at Target would you believe me? Some scrap fabric and gold spray paint were their friends.


Most importantly, give yourself a good view. It's your space no matter how big or how small. I've learned that simple can be better. This is my view every morning and I couldn't love it more.


If you have any source questions or would like info on design/staging services, feel free to email me at ALPerkins108@gmail.com!