Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Little Studio Support

Last week just as I took one of many breaks from painting during the day I noticed a twinge in my shoulder. Later on it developed into a bigger pain, making it difficult to move my arm. The crazy thing was that it wasn’t my right shoulder. I’m right handed so you’d figure that if something were going to ache it would be the arm I was working with.

When this happened three days in a row I had to figure out what was causing it. As it turns out, because I sometimes work from a reference – a drawing, a small watercolor, or a small oil study that I hold in my left hand while I paint with my right, I was holding on so tightly that I was tensing up my shoulder. I remained completely oblivious to this as I worked resulting in tight, cramped, sore muscles in my left shoulder and arm.

I actually have a nifty device that I can employ to prevent this from happening. It’s a little “shelf” that can be clamped on to the easel, or even to the painting itself, that will hold a small drawing or a painting. The shelf is adjustable so that it can be attached to either side. This device actually has a name - it's called a Testrite Picture Holder. For some reason I had taken it off the easel. So I went and found it and reattached it to hold my reference drawing and I haven’t had a sore shoulder since.

Pictures of this helpful accessory in action are below:

In this photo I've removed the drawing so you can see the actual device:

Since buying this one I've noticed that there are other similar clips for holding reference material that are about half the price.


Carol McIntyre said...

Katherine, thanks for visiting my blog. At the workshop I attended this past weekend, most people were suggesting Wordpress.ORG versus .COM. The consensus is that .ORG is the best but that you may need to hire someone for the upfront set up, and this is not very time consuming. It all gets a tad overwhelming after awhile, no? :)

Carol, from blog class

Katherine said...

Thanks Carol, that's great information to know.

Jean Spitzer said...

I caught myself doing the same thing--holding up the reference--also when I don't have to: I can just tape it to my adjacent easel. I wonder if that's why might left hand has been hurting. Thanks for the warning.

On another topic, I just bought a bottle of safflower oil and I'm trying out your no-wash method. So far, I adore it. Any pitfalls you've experienced? Also, do you just leave the brushes in oil open to the air?

Katherine said...

Hi Jean,

You're welcome and I hope your hand feels better.

I do leave the jar in open air. The oil doesn't evaporate and in my experience has no fumes. The one thing to watch out for is if you have brushes with fine tips standing point down for a long time - as you probably know - this can change the shape of the brush, causing a bend or a loss of the point. In that case you might want to get a brush holder, or brush coil, to hold the brushes in the jar so that the tips are suspended in oil but not resting with the weight of the brush on the tips.

Jean Spitzer said...

Thanks for the good wishes and for the advice. What I'm trying is laying the brushes flat on a shallow dish with the oil--to accommodate the odd shapes of the brush handles and avoid the brush tip distortion issue. So far--one day--so good.

Joanne said...

Hi Katherine,
I have just spent a lovely time reading your blog - and I have thoroughly enjoyed it! As you can see, I have now become one of your "followers". Could you direct me to the place where you tell why you never have to clean your brushes? I am a watercolorist who is just beginning to dabble in oils, and I would be interested in your advice. Thanks - and see you again soon!

Katherine said...

Hi Jean,

As long as the brush part is completely submerged in the oil it should be okay.

Katherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katherine said...

Hi Joanne and welcome!

You'll find that post here:

I hope it works as well for you as it does for me.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

Joanne said...

Thanks Katherine. I am on my way out to buy safflower oil right away! :-) Have a wonderful weekend.

Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Katherine: Re your post on the class blog, Blogger might not allow automatic linking, but it does allow HTML tagging. I can link to the Art Biz Blog but I have to know HTML coding to do that (and I do, which is why that appears as a hyperlink)! Sadly, not many people know how to do this or would go to the trouble to do it.

Anonymous said...

Katherine, this is a terrific gizmo! I too have suffered from the exact same thing when I could not always tape my reference image to my easel. Thanks for the tip and the handy link.

Kim Bennett said...

This is an interesting idea. I like how it is level with what you are painting as well. This could solve some of my discomfort when painting.

Carol McIntyre said...

Katherine, I hope your shoulder continues to feel better. I created a system using a metal strip and magnets to hold referenct material. Love the clouds, a favorite subject of mine that I have not tackled in awhile.

Fellow blog triage student.

Katherine said...

Hi Alyson,

It is great that linking is doable.

I've made links in other blogger comments in the past, but when tried it in my own comments the link didn't work and I haven't learned what the problem is yet.

Katherine said...

Marianne - you're welcome. I'm glad you found it helpful.

Kim - I hope it helps.

Thanks Carol, I'd love to see your system - it sounds like it might be easy to work with and perhaps a money saver.

Melissa said...

I'll have to get some safflower oil, do you use the kind from the grocery store?

I read the original post but I can't remember what you said.

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Melissa,

Yup, just regular old grocery store Safflower OilIt's not very expensive and lasts quite awhile.