We Asked 7 Painters to Show Us What Their Studio Looks Like Right Now

January 24th 2021 // Writer: Shane Allen // Art

When you get an idea for something you want to make, one of the first things you realize is that you need the tools to make that idea come to life. That then opens up a rabbit hole of thousands of different things you can buy to help that process run smoothly, In turn, that raises the questions,..


Which ones do I actually need?, Will they actually make me better? and Where do it put all?


It differs for everyone. Some tools are made from more quality materials, making it more comfortable for you to use. Some will last longer so you don't have keep buying them over and over again. Some are cheaper, allowing you to work on budget, but still be able to get your ideas out. Some are made in just the right color you like. Maybe your favorite artist uses that same thing, so when you use it, you feel as confident as they do.


Where you keep everything is a whole other story, some people need to be extremely organized or they wont be able to start working. Others work best when everything is just laying in front of them unorganized.


You'll discover what works best for you though trial an error. You may buy a $20 pen thinking it'll make your drawing better,, just to realize your drawings are just as good with a ballpoint Bic pen. Maybe you think that you have to buy a bigger studio to improve your work, come to find out you're making the same quality stuff as you were in your bedroom.. Some of the best music ever was recorded on the cheapest of microphones.


In this article, we asked 7 painters to show us their studio and art supplies as they are, not cleaned up or organized, unless they already were, to see how much the importance of their tools ranges from artist to artist. Turns out, everyone is different.


What is the same between everyone, is that they have an idea. The idea always comes through in the work. The idea is the important part and how you get there, is usually not. Creativity always comes first. Sometimes the right tools are extremely important in producing what you want to produce. Sometimes, they aren't important at all.


Jessica Matier


What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

I use a wide variety of brushes some expensive some not. Acrylic, watercolor, and hake along with some household items like towels and rags. I've had a few since college but since I'm not the greatest at cleaning I end up throwing them away.


How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands, etc.

I've become accustomed to working exclusively in my studio which has made familiarity vital. I require the same specific materials and if I don't have them it's an uphill battle.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you? Why?

This is a tough question because I do spend a lot of time organizing and cleaning. However, as you can see in the photos I tend to let things get disarrayed when I'm in the middle of producing new work. For these reasons, I would give myself a 6.


How often do you get paint on your clothes?

A few times a week. It's always a sleeve that brushes against the canvas.


Jessiica's Instagram


Nehemiah Cisneros



What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

I work with brand new brushes on each painting. I begin with large Home Depot, Wooster Pro, flat brushes to block color. The manual labor to complete large-scale paintings compares to the exhaustion felt from house painters covering surfaces without leaving brush strokes. I devour up to two packs of Blick artist-series brushes per image. I run through them like cigarettes. Recently I've become obsessed with Princeton 2/0 rounds for the more refined lines in my paintings, so I buy those in bulk.


How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands, etc.

I prefer the flatness of acrylic paint to cover brush strokes, There's an expectation for the flowing line quality of illustrative flourishes I'm keen to make, So I use Molotov acrylic ink or Golden High Flow. After trying alternative brands, I feel the combination of those materials is the most practical for producing the current work. Since I do a lot of line work, brushes become disposable after they have lost their original shape.



On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you?

I've removed all freestanding work surfaces from my studio. There is no table, no easel, just the painting mounted to the wall and piles of supplies. While working, my organization goes from a 10 to 1 due to long binge sessions, where I move around different objects, sometimes forgetting to dip used brushes in water. I get expressive to the walls in my studio, using them as pallets to mix and test brush strokes; I'm always spilling paint. My studio mates yell as water floods their space from water buckets I accidentally tripped over. I work faster when not having to place back things in their original order.


How often do you get paint on your clothes?

I have specific clothes I work in, and they are covered in paint. I buy two pairs of the same shoes; so I can rock the same brand while having one to mess up in the studio.

Nehemiah's Instagram

Chloe Kovska



What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they? Whatever feels good, some are as old as methuselah. I use them until they have a single hair left a lot of the time. How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paint brands, etc. I don’t know if it’s important because it’s good to make do with what you have, but it certainly does help when you have the materials you’d like. I wouldn’t say I’m anal about brands, if it works good for what I want to achieve, I’ll use it. I won’t turn my nose up at many brands, minus if it’s a turd rolled in glitter. I kind of feel the same about fashion too.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you? Hard to say as I’d class myself as organized chaos. I work better under pressure.. Would that be a 5? Haha I think I’ve always struggled with having too much structure, I start feeling trapped, I have to have loose organization n in my own way.

How often do you get paint on your clothes? Every time I paint haha I tried to have painting attire, but it kind of just started getting on everything.



Chloe's Instagram

Blake Neubert


What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

I buy pretty cheap brushes - mostly set royal and longnecked set from Walmart actually. I will use the same 4 more months until the bristles are shot. I usually leave them in the water while I’m not using them.


How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands, etc.

I mostly paint in acrylic. I definitely prefer to use golden. I will also use Liquitex basics but will use the highest quality titanium white


On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you? Why?

I’m like a 3. It’s not horrible, but it’s stressful. I’m a single dad with a full-time career outside of art, and I play music. So staying organized with art definitely suffers.


How often do you get paint on your clothes?

I use to all the time when I first learned how to oil paint. I would get it EVERYWHERE! After ruining enough pairs of jeans, shirts and car interiors; I started painting in my business suit. I became keenly away of my brush and workspace. I don’t paint in my suit anymore, and I very rarely get any paint on my clothes.


Blake's Instagram

Chelsea Wong

What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

For acrylic paints, I use starter sets such as the Princeton Real Value brushes that come in packages of 4 or 5. I am a fan of angled brushes to create edges and fill in shapes, and sharp-pointed brushes to create detail work. I use decent quality house painting brushes for big areas and backgrounds. I find that acrylic brushes fray quickly regardless of the quality and tend to steer towards value. For watercolor painting, I buy higher quality Princeton brushes and am a big fan of the no. 4 and no. 6 round. If taken care of properly watercolor brushes can last a long time and since watercolor painting requires a different level of control than acrylic I find the investment to be worth it. I have two Kimono painting brushes from a shop outside of the Meiji shrine in Tokyo that make the most fine and delicate lines and I cherish and use them sparingly. How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands etc. Very important! You can’t make mistakes in watercolor painting, every little drip of water or paint leaves a mark. For the type of painting I do, it’s necessary to use paintbrushes that allow my hand to have control. I use high-quality paints and there are brands I like, such as M. Graham and Winsor & Newton tubes. Flow, color, saturation and archival pigment are all important. If someone is spending good money on a painting, it should last.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you? There is an organization to my chaos. Probably 6. I don’t think anyone else could come into my workspace and work but I know exactly where everything is. No matter how much I clean my studio it inevitably gets messy. In order for me to do my job quickly I can’t spend a ton of time stacking paints and making them look pretty. It’s not functional. I am most organized in my routines. It’s important for me to be very specific when I clean up brushes at the end of the night in order to start my next day seamlessly and not waste money on dry and ruined brushes. How often do you get paint on your clothes? When using watercolor paints never but with acrylic, immediately. I have a lot of nice clothes and wear comfortable clothes and shoes when I go to the studio. I wear an apron but paint still gets everywhere. Wearing comfortable clothes ensures me that I am ready and able to do my job. I would hate to wear something nice to the studio, not be able to paint freely because I’m worried my clothes will get ruined, and have to go home. There’s no point in that.



Chelsea's Instaram

Elinor Shapiro



What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

I use pretty basic brushes. Just whatever looks good for not too much money at the art supply store. I'm not always so good at washing my brushes and I'm rough with them, so I don't like to spend too much on them. Some of the brushes I use were my grandfathers... those I take better care of, they are more important to me. I'm not sure when they are from maybe the 50s.


How important is to you that you have the exact materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands, etc.

Because I work at an art residency, I work a lot with art materials that others have left behind. So I'm a bit of a scavenger with my art supplies. I will use anything and everything.







On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you?

um, maybe a 5. Most of the time it looks like a tornado hit my studio but I always know where things are.

How often do you get paint on your clothes?

Surprisingly infrequently, maybe once a week. But I do assume every item of clothing I have will eventually become painting clothing due to accidental spillage.


Elinor's Instagram

Mary Okunska


What kind of brushes do you use? How old are they?

Each brush has its own purpose. It is more convenient to work with squirrel brushes for watercolors, and synthetics are more suitable for acrylics and oils. On the other hand, the use of all means is possible depending on the purpose. Only tool can be damaged as a result of such work. As for me, I always try to prefer a goal than to keep the tools collecting the dust on the shelf. The exception is only gift items to which I really treasure and use them on special occasions. However, I still have my granddad`s feathers, which have been continued to prove their incredible lasting qualities for more than 50 years.


How important is it for you to have all the materials you need to work? Brushes, paints, brands, etc.

It is more pleasant and easier to work with high-quality materials in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises. But if you’re driven by the desire to create, then you can use the cheapest ones. A tool always remains only a tool, a skill is important, as in all things. I enjoy working with "nevskaya palitra" and prefer our Ukrainian manufacturer of art materials – "rosa".


They're working hard to maintain the quality and it shows. I`ve always used pencils by "koh-i-noor", a Czech manufacturer that has been on the market for a long time. Used to get these pencils since university.





On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly organized are you?

My life is divided into 2 parts: work and personal life. As for the organization in work – solid 8. I do not control anything in my free time due to lack of a clear action plan, so in this regard I`ve got 2. Nevertheless, I think it is important to maintain a balance in all spheres of life.


How often do you get paint on your clothes?

When working with oil, the paint on clothes is seen as matter of course. Most of my things are in paint, but I don't care to. It's probably best to wear something that you don't mind getting dirty. But these are just things, and nothing more.


Mary's Instagram





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