Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

A Look At: My Studio

A wall against which many paintings are stacked, face to faceOil painting is slow, and takes up room, and after an attempt to do it in my kitchen was vetoed, I had to find a studio. I joined a set of artists working out of a near-derelict building, on a peppercorn rent that kept the roof mostly waterproof, and allowed the holding company to pay for someone to sit in reception. It was a great place for the numerous charities, start-ups, and small businesses that worked out of it, but eventually we had to move on. Right now, we are in an industrial building on the town’s inner ring road. My studio is a room which I share with one other artist, but as I need more space than him, we share the room so that I have an L-shaped part. The bottom of the L has low head room, and it is where I keep my paintings, my unpainted canvases, and the props I use for my still lifes. It also holds bulky kit like stretcher bars, miscellaneous frames, and a door to Narnia, or at least to the storage cupboard in the eaves. The cupboard is full of interesting things that are not mine.

A shelf with a still life arranged on itThe vertical part of the L has a window in it, up on the left. My painting area is arranged around that. The window gives mostly North light – in the summer, the sun just peeks in in the afternoon, and messes up everything for me. North light is great because it can be more or less intense, but it is all from one diffuse source, meaning that shadows do not move during the day. Under the window, I have a desk where I do pencil, pen, and watercolour work. One of its drawers has my entire collection of oil paints, which is slowly pulling the drawer runner out of position. The other drawer is that drawer that everyone has which is full of stuff.

Facing the desk is my easel, although it can be moved around on wheels. There is a patch of linoleum to protect the floor, and the easel sits on that. I can turn my chair around for the desk to face the easel pretty easily, and next to the chair is a three-layer trolley that has my solvents, mediums, oils, mixes, varnishes, and everything else that comes in bottles. It also has a flat surface I can use for my laptop if I am painting from photographs, and for my palette if I do not want to hold it. The easel itself is a behemoth, cramped under the ten foot ceiling. I can paint anything on it that fits up the stairs.

At the top of the L, I have set up my still life shelf in the light from the window. I have used moveable brackets so I can move the shelf, and a bar across the top lets me drape colours cloth behind. So, I can keep my shelf low and put a table on it, or have it high and have piles of drapery here and there, and not worry about height. Underneath the shelf is room for wet canvases to dry. To avoid having only left-handed light, I will be running spotlights up towards the shelf at some point, but for the moment it is working well as it is. Pictured here is a still life I have not yet started on, but which will no doubt consume me in the future. On the easel you can see day five of Roses and Reflections, my current still life. Queued up and ready to go, I have a couple of other things.

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