Of course there are countless ways that you can set up your studio and you have to take in all of your personal needs first and foremost, for me though, having an area that enhances your workflow and while limiting distractions is key. Ultimately there are many types of painters, each with their own problems and concerns, and there is no blanket wrong way, I will simply explain how I set up my work area and explain how it works for me and why.
First and foremost, you will need a sturdy adjustable easel. I have multiple easels in my studio, sometimes working on more than one at any given time, but my favorite is a custom handmade steal easel. Next you will need a pallet for your paint. I prefer not to hold my pallet the entire time I am painting, so I use a steal role-away cart that has a storage draw for my paints. I have also customized it to hold my mineral spirits and brushes around the outer edges. I prefer glass (I use an old mirror) over wooden pallets because they can be easel scrapped clean using a razor paint scraper.
Next you will need a subject. Ultimately I wish that I had more time to spend painting in plein air, or from northern light windows, but let’s face it, most of us do not have the ideal conditions all of the time, and have to make the best of what we have. I have a couple of different tables for still lives, with white balanced photography light bulbs for lighting still lives or models, but more often than not I am working from photo references that I have taken myself. For this, I have to recommend setting up a computer monitor right next to your canvas (or other painting surface) as in my opinion, it is the absolute next best thing to painting from life. Not only will you save money in the long run from multiple photo reference prints at different views and zoom levels, but your colors will be insurmountably easier to see. One can easily scroll in and out of the references view multiple photos on one screen or crop as needed. I use a small Asus netbook to power a 20” monitor and it still looks great. I like to keep my monitor to the left of my painting that way that I do not need to look over my painting arm at my reference and my pallet a set over behind me to the left so that I am forced to constantly take a step back from my painting.
I hope that this has given you some food for thought, and I recommend experimenting and adjusting your work area for something that best suits your purposes, but if you are working from reference photos at all, I can’t recommend switching to painting directly from a monitor enough if you have not switched over already!
In the next topic, I will be discussing the colors that I use on my pallet and try to explain why I have chosen the colors that I do.