Sunday, December 1, 2013

Watercolor Classes and Workshops for 2014

Be sure to check out the terrific watercolor classes and workshops planned for 2014 by such teaching greats as Tom Hoffmann, Catherine Gill, Michele Cooper, and Kathy Collins. I've listed quite a few of them on my Classes and Workshops page and provided links to many others. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Garbanzo Bean Pancakes (Gluten Free)

Hypo-allergenic Garbanzo Bean Pancakes
By popular demand, here's my recipe for hypo-allergenic garbanzo bean pancakes. Due to severe food allergies, I don't eat any grains except for rice, and eat no eggs, so traditional pancakes are out. These pancakes are more than just a substitute, though. They taste wonderful and keep my blood sugar stable for hours because they're high in protein.

I mix up a batch of batter on Sunday and keep it in the refrigerator all week, taking out just enough to make a pancake breakfast each morning. The pancakes also work as "bread" for almond butter or peanut butter sandwiches.

Note that while I list some ingredients as optional, make your best effort to include them because they really help the flavor and texture of the pancakes.

Ingredients:
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Flour*
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch (optional - for a "crumb")
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour (optional - for moisture and flavor)
2 rounded tablespoons of sweet potato flour (optional - for moisture and sweetness). If you don't have sweet potato flour, then add 2 heaping tablespoons additional coconut flour.
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 to 6 ounces plain, unflavored goat or cow yogurt (omit for vegan pancakes)
2 cups water -- enough to make a batter
Baking soda -- or if you omit the yogurt, use baking powder instead. If you're allergic to corn starch, as I am, then mix together equal parts of baking soda and cream of tarter instead of using baking powder. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon per cup of batter just before cooking.
Coconut or other cooking oil
Dried or fresh blueberries
Non-stick griddle (one that's non-toxic!)

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients except for the baking soda, and then mix in the water. Stir in the yogurt. If necessary, add a little bit more water to make the mixture "stir-able," but still slightly firm. If possible, store the mixture in the fridge overnight. This allows the garbanzo flour to really soak up the water.

To make four pancakes -- two each for Bill and I -- I put about 1 cup of the mixture into a bowl, add a bit of water as needed to make it the consistency of pancake batter, then stir in a couple handfuls of blueberries and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (no baking powder for me because of a corn allergy).

I preheat a non-stick griddle to medium heat and cook the pancakes in about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut spread. You can use some other type of cooking oil, if you prefer, but the coconut oil gives nice results and great flavor.

*I use Bob's Red Mill products because they're non-GMO. My worst food allergies have developed in the last 10 years, since GMO foods have proliferated, and I suspect they could be the source of some of my issues.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Watchbirds

German Shepherds of the Bird World

Our neighbor's two darling kittens have grown up to be lethal bird catchers, so keeping cats out of our yard and away from the feathered morsels at the bird feeders [sigh] is a continuing, occupation. After some experimentation (yelling, arm waving, chasing, paper snapping), I've found that watering the cats with a Super Soaker convinces them to skip our backyard in their search for prey. Recently, though, our next-door neighbor's sweet little kitten has also developed an unhealthy fascination with the bird feeder. Much as I hate doing it, I also treat that kitty to a super soak every time I see her in the backyard. [Update. The kitty, named Quira, has learned to visit me while I'm gardening in the front yard and entirely avoid the back. Who says cats can't be trained?]

Fortunately, I don't have to spend all day watching out the back window for cats. Bertram, Corvina, and Ned have turned out to be watchbirds and caw persistently when there's a cat in the yard. There is no ignoring the noise, or mistaking it for anything but a demand for cat mitigation measures. At first, the crows cawed at cats hanging out in other yards, too, but gave it up when they learned that their fuss only works in our yard.

Bertram warns the other yardbirds about a predatory cat. 

I thought this warning behavior might be unique to "my" crows, but a couple of weeks ago I watched a crow caw angrily at a bus that had hit a seagull. The crow sat on the wire over the bus stop and cawed at that bus and every other bus that came during the 15 minutes I was standing there. Crows also take action towards predatory birds during nesting season. When hawks and eagles try to raid a crow's nest, they flock from the surrounding areas and gang up on the predators, hassling them until they give up and leave.

Dr. John Marzluff, at the University of Washington, is very interested in how crows share knowledge with one another about "dangerous humans,"--humans who have trapped and banded them for research and then released them. From my personal observations, though, it isn't just humans that crows mob, but anything that represents a danger- a hawk, an eagle, a cat--or even a bus. Crows are to other birds world like German Shepherds are to people: watchers, warners, and sometimes even attackers.

Go Bertram!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fun and Exhausting

Saturday's reception at Habitude was so much fun. Thanks to those who came. It was my first experience being the focus of an art event rather than being the hostess or one artist among others, and being a typical introvert, I found it both enjoyable and exhausting. Ten paintings were sold, which I found astounding. I'm so glad they've found good homes!

Here I am with my superhero, Bill, who hung most of the 29 paintings that were displayed.

This is my Personified Pears series.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My work will be featured on the June Ballard Artwalk

I was thrilled to receive an invitation from Habitude Salon, Spa, and Gallery to be their featured artist for the June 8 Artwalk in Ballard. Please join me there between 6 and 9 PM for a wine and snacks reception!

Habitude Salon, Spa, and Gallery
2801 NW Market Street,
Seattle, WA 98107

http://ballardartwalk.blogspot.com/p/map.html

My original watercolor paintings will remain on display there through July 10.
 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Planting a Native Australian Shade Garden in Sydney

Bird's Nest Ferns
I'm visiting my daughter, Liz, in Sydney, Australia, where she's rejuvenating the landscaping around her home. Like most gardens in this country, hers is dominated by non-native plants -- in this case English cottage garden plants such as camellias, azaleas, lilies, iris, and daffodils.

This would be fine, except that imported plants have an unfortunate tendency to "escape" from gardens and displace native species in the wild, causing irreparable harm to the delicate ecosystem here. Australia's geographic isolation has allowed its native plants and animals to evolve uniquely, and many species aren't found anywhere else the world. Since European settlement, 61 native plant species have become extinct, and a further 1,239 are threatened. Although many factors contribute to this tragic loss of diversity, the introduction of invasive, non-native plants into the ecosystem is a major one.

With this in mind, Liz has accepted the challenge to replace non-natives in her garden with native plants indigenous to the Sydney area. And a challenge it is. The small part I've taken has made me appreciate why people prefer gardening with familiar plants from their own countries (and may explain why Australia has so many non-natives). There is so much to learn! Australian native plants aren't like anything I've dealt with before. Their appearance is unfamiliar. I don't know their growth habits or their sun/shade/water/nutrient/soil requirements. I can't distinguish a weed from a desirable plant, or a native from a non-native

To meet the challenge, Liz has adopted a phased strategy, planning to take on just one section of the landscaping at a time, clearing it and figuring out which plants will work best in that particular spot. This should make the learning curve a bit less steep. Fortunately, most of the non-native plants in her yard are fairly well behaved and not known to be "escapees," and the problem plants can be controlled by removing their flowers and seed pods until such time as the plants themselves can be removed.

During my visit, I've assisted with Phase I: rehabilitating the garden across the driveway from the patio -- the most visible one. The whole garden is shaded all winter, and the front of it's sunny in summer.


Phase I: This garden hosts several invasive species, including Fishbone ferns, which are native to another part of Australia, but invasive here, where they choke out other plants.  The fence in back is covered with Chinese wisteria that Liz will remove in the  future and replace with native Kangaroo vine. Just as we experience in Seattle, the wisteria wants to take over the world, and will climb trees and strangle them if not constantly cut back. 
Liz clears the ground, digging out roots and tubers. Fishbone ferns seen on the far left of this photo are in a Phase II section of the garden and will be removed later.
We acquired these natives in an expedition to two native plant nurseries. Liz selected plants with a mixture of growth habits, adult heights, and foliage. Small plants are less expensive and easier to plant than larger ones. See below for her plant list.
Here's a close-up of several ferns, which should do well in this shade garden.
The planting begins.


Everything's now in the ground, including some stones for a path to the birdbath. As the plants mature, they will overtake the empty spaces and create a full, lush effect.
Here's a different viewpoint. Liz has started to apply a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture and help give the plants a good start.
And here's the next section waiting for rehabilitation.
Liz's list of shade-loving (or tolerant) Australian native plants and their habitat value:


Indigofera australis - native indigo, shrub, 1.5 m tall.  Produces small pink flowers which attract native bees and butterfly larvae, seeds attract birds.
Dianella caerulea – flax lily/paroo lily, perennial herb, 1 m tall. Purple berries attract birds and butterflies.
Alpinia caerulea - native ginger (and Atherton ginger*), perennial herb, 1.5-3 m tall. White flowers and blue fruit attract birds.
Lomandra fluviatilis - no common name, NSW ENDEMIC, 50 cm tall, tufted perennial herb. Attracts seed-eating birds and provides shelter for small birds and lizards.
Cissus antarctica - kangaroo vine/water vine, climbing vine. Provides nesting sites for birds. Purple fruit attracts birds, moths and ringtail possums.
Macrozamia communis - burrawang cycad, NSW ENDEMIC, 3 m wide, 1-2 m tall. Large seeds attract marsupials, large birds and fruit bats. However, they are extremely toxic to humans and non-native animals/livestock and can cause death.
Cordyline stricta – slender palm lily/narrow leaved palm lily, shrub, 2-3 m tall.  Attracts butterfly larvae.
Blechnum patersonii - strap water fern. Provides shelter to small birds and lizards.
Microsorum diversifolia - kangaroo fern. Provides shelter to small birds and lizards.
Doodia aspera - rasp fern. Provides shelter to small birds and lizards.
Asplenum australasicum - birds nest fern. 
Adiantum spp. – maidenhair fern (already in the garden).
And then of course the sun-loving Banksia integrifolia – coast banksia, tree, 25 m, to create more shade for the shade-loving plants.  Large flowers attract nectar-feeding birds and seeds attract small mammals.


*The Atherton ginger was the only plant we brought home that is not indigenous to the Sydney area. This ginger comes from Queensland, but we fell in love with the red underside of the leaves.

For an update on Liz's progress, see A Native Shade Garden in Sydney -- Year Two.

For more information on Australia's native plants, see: 

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Start a Watercolor Meetup Group


Two years ago this month I started a meetup group on Meetup.com for watercolor painters in Seattle. Since then it's blossomed into a cohesive community with 94 members and a history of 167 meetups. We get together once per week to paint indoors and once per week to paint outdoors, in addition to various individual meetups to attend art shows and exhibits. Close friendships have formed within a supportive atmosphere, and everyone has learned a lot of new things about art.

The other day Barbara emailed me, asking for suggestions on how to set up her own watercolor meetup group in Everett. After responding with a lengthy missive, I decided to post my reply here as well. Usually when someone asks me a question, others are also interested in the answer.

Here’s what I told her:

1. Set up your site. First you need to set up a meetup site on http://www.meetup.com. The cost is $12 per month, and that price gives you everything you need to start and run your group. There’s no charge for participants to join Meetup. I suggest naming your group "[Your location] [your medium] Meetup Group," so people know what and where it is. For example, I named mine “Seattle Watercolor Meetup Group.”

You can associate keywords with your site that allow meetup.com members to find it. For example, my site has keywords such as painting, watercolor, art, and plein air. Individuals who have already joined meetup.com and listed one of your keywords as an interest will be notified about your site. In addition, anyone searching the internet for such a group will be able to find it, even if they haven’t already joined meetup.

To see how my site’s set up, go to http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Watercolor-Meetup-Group/.

2. Decide whether to charge members for a meetup. You have the option to charge members for attending your meetups. I decided not to do this, even to recoup the cost of the site, because I didn't want to get in cross-ways with the community center where we meet each Friday. They give us space in return for a $2-3 drop-in fee per person because we’re considered non-profit, as I don't charge anything for the meetup. You'll figure out how to handle that issue in a way that works best for you.

Here's a photo of the Friday meetup, held in a wonderful space at the Loyal Heights Community Center in Seattle. This photo was taken a year ago. Now, we need two rows of tables to accommodate all of the attendees.
3. Choose a focus for the group. I decided to have our meetup group focus on watercolor painting for two reasons: (1) I'm a watercolor painter, and (2) watercolor is non-toxic and appropriate for doing indoors in a public space, such as the community center. During the cold, rainy Seattle winter, it’s pretty difficult to paint outdoors, and I wanted this group to meet at least once per week all year round. For our outdoor meetups, members are free to paint in any medium, although, interestingly, even the oil painters in the group opt for watercolor.

4. Set goals and the overall tone of the group. From the beginning, I wanted this to be a highly participatory group, rather than have everything rely on me. I scheduled the first meetup at a coffee shop, to discuss what members wanted to get out of the group. In that meetup we decided on a day and time to meet each week, based on the availability of a suitable room at the community center. We also discussed our collective "vision" for the group, determining that it was to develop a supportive and collaborative community of artists.

Our first meetup was held at Tully's Coffee, to discuss what we wanted the group to be like.
From that first meetup I emphasized that members should expect to get out of the group no more than what they put into it, and that each person is responsible for their own rewarding experience. I believe this set a positive and constructive tone that has been fundamental to the success of our group.

5. Increase membership. There were four artists at the first meetup. Of the original group, only one has dropped out, and over two years we've steadily added members. Today we have about 94, with 12-16 in attendance on any Friday. Our "paint around Seattle" group gets 4-8 weekly depending on the weather. This second weekly meetup spontaneously started after the first one had been running for a full year.

Our first "Paint Around Seattle" meetup, held last April in the Woodland Park Rose Garden.
We get a different mix of people each week, but active members come at least once or twice per month, so there's a lot of continuity, and some deep friendships have formed. Being an artist is a lonely occupation, and our group has brought many professional artists in addition to absolute beginners and everything in between. I believe the key to this success is the participatory nature of our group and emphasis on being supportive and positive. Attendees frequently comment about how warm, welcoming, and fun this group is.

6. Encourage participation. I encourage members to propose and host additional meetups and have named four co-organizers. If someone is interested, I coach them on how to set up a meetup (basically, you need a place to meet and need to greet people and make them feel welcome). Additional meetups can be scheduled in a series or be held just once for something like attending  an artwalk, show, or exhibit.

The work of member artists are included in shows all around Seattle, which we often attend in informal groups. I wasn't able to attend the opening of Nelda Hanson's show here at the Sunlight Cafe, but I met up with Beth later to view it.
One member, Eileen, has taken over the Thursday "paint around Seattle" group and figures out the place to paint each week, updates the meetup site, and exchanges cell phone numbers with people who plan to attend, in case anyone gets lost. Another member is hosting a non-publicized meetup at her studio twice per month in the evening for members who work. It isn't publicized for reasons of safety. She invites specific members offline.

I want to make this group as self-sustaining as possible, to succeed with or without me, but have come to realize that completely replacing myself as group leader requires at least one willing party and a lot of coaching -- and willing parties are rare. My current strategy is to hand off as much responsibility as willing members will take on, hoping that if and when I can no longer lead the group, there will be a few folks around with enough experience to keep the thing going.

7. Tips for conducting your meetups. Regarding conducting meetup sessions, it's vital to have a person "on point" for each one. For our group, this person (the host, me, or someone I nominate) makes sure that the still life and tables are set up for indoor meetups, greets each person as they arrive, and introduces newcomers to the others. This person sets the tone for the meetup, which is friendly, non-critical, and supportive. Ideally, this person will also have some ideas in mind to discuss about watercolor painting. This is especially important when the group is getting off the ground to help break the ice, but it's great any time. I used to provide a 30-minute seminar at the beginning of each meetup on watercolor basics. Sometimes I'd demonstrate a particular technique or else bring in a book to discuss. I encourage other members to volunteer for this, and when they do, it's a great addition.

The purpose of the group is to exchange ideas and develop a supportive art community, and getting to know one-another personally is key to these goals. It's helpful to have some off-topic topics in mind for this purpose. While people are sitting around painting, if the silence becomes deafening, it can be nice to discuss a good movie you've just seen, an exhibit, a book, and so forth. Most often, though, our conversation naturally settles on some aspect of art.

Initially I brought tea and cookies, but that was too much overhead, so abandoned that idea after a while. It's nice to do, but anything can get tedious if it becomes an obligation week in and week out. I have, however, set up a still life each Friday for almost the entire two years we've been meeting indoors. This, believe me, gets old, but at the same time, it's important to do. For one thing, painting from life is different than painting from photos. In addition, it helps generate discussion as people walk around and look at each others artistic "take" on the same subject. After a lot of prodding some members have started bringing in still life ingredients so I don't have to do it all, and occasionally a member will handle the whole thing, such as in the rare event that I'm not there (like at the moment, when I'm in Australia visiting my daughter).

"Nell's Breakfast" still life setup.

It’s a good idea to bring a camera and take snapshots of people painting as well as their work (if they're OK with that) to upload to the site. I also encourage people to upload their own photos of what they painted. People are shy about doing this, but less so when I tell them it's for the benefit of the rest of the group, which is true because the photos generate comradeship and chat.

In sum...
We all encourage and inspire one other in the Seattle Watercolor Meetup Group. The tone of our group is absolutely positive at all times. We've never had any disagreeableness, except one time when a new member came solely for the purpose of selling her art and dominated the session with her non-stop self-promotion. Members were polite, although quite irritated. Thinking it over afterwards, I decided that should something like that happen again, I would step in let the person know they were out of bounds. The woman didn't get the response she wanted and never came back, fortunately.

Members have told me over and over again how important this group has become in their life, which makes the effort that I put in feel worthwhile. I hope you’ll decide to create a similar group in your own area. If you do please let me know. Also, feel free to ping me with any questions.

Christina Scott painted this during a meetup at Greenlake.
You might also enjoy:
Art Studio On Wheels - How I set up my art studio in a small space.
Setting up an Outdoor Easel - I demonstrate how I converted my camera tripod into a watercolor easel.
How to Frame a Watercolor Painting - It can be a bit tricky your first time. Here's how I do it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Frame a Watercolor Painting

I was just framing a painting for my mom and decided to take photos of the process in case some of you are interested in doing this for yourselves. I'm assuming you know absolutely nothing, so please bear with me if you already know the basics. For some ideas about where to get the materials mentioned in this post, see Watercolor Resources.

Materials

Watercolor "paper" is actually made from 100 percent cotton rag. Unlike canvas or linen used for oil paintings, watercolor paper isn't given a water-resistant coating. While some artists spray a protective finish on their work, most do not because it changes the way the painting looks, and not everyone likes the result. So most of the time you'll be framing work that isn't waterproofed.

To protect the painting you can use glass or acrylic. Acrylic is much harder to break than glass, which is good if you're shipping your framed painting or putting it in a show that requires acrylic. Otherwise glass is fine. Non-reflective glass or acrylic is nice, although more expensive than the regular stuff.

In addition to glass, you need to protect the painting with a mat and backing (usually foam core), which should be acid free and archival, unless you don't mind your painting turning yellow over time. I always use a double mat because it looks better. You also need some acid-free cloth tape to attach the painting to the mat. The mat keeps the painting from touching the glass, which is very important. If you opt not to use a mat, then you need to put a spacer between the glass and the painting so they don't touch.

Finally, you need a frame. In general, the larger the painting, the wider the frame molding can be, but it's all a matter of taste. Do, however, consider how the end result will look when you're selecting molding. You don't want to either overwhelm or underwhelm the artwork.

Sizing

You have three options for acquiring mats and frames. The cheapest way is to buy a pre-cut mat and pre-made frame. Alternatively, you can purchase the equipment to cut your own mats, and even buy parts to assemble your own frames. Eventually you can save money by cutting your own mats, if you do enough of them, although I've found the mat material to be expensive unless bought in bulk. Finally, you can simply order what you need from a framer.

It you're the painter, you have some options for saving money because you can paint in sizes that fit standard-size mats and frames, which are mass-produced and far less expensive than custom mats and frames. Here are a few examples:

Watercolor paper: 11" X 15" (1/4 sheet of 22" X 30" paper)
Mat inside dimensions: 10" X 14"
Mat outside dimensions: 16" X 20"
Frame inside dimensions: 16" X 20"
This is my go-to size because the mats and frames are readily available.


Watercolor paper: 12" X 15"
Mat inside dimensions: 11" X 14"
Mat outside dimensions: 16" X 20"
Frame inside dimensions: 16" X 20"


Watercolor paper: 6" X 8"
Mat inside dimensions: 5" X 7"
Frame inside dimensions: Various - just make sure the outside dimensions of the mat and and the inside dimensions of the frame are the same.

You can explore what's available online and in your area to decide what works best for you. Here are recommendations from West Charlton Frame Company for the correct size mats and frames to use for different size paintings. I highly recommend using this company for your custom framing needs.

Assembly

Here's the fun part. While framing the painting for my mom this morning, I took some hurried photos to show you the process.

I made this painting of a Great Blue Heron for my mom on Arches 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper.
To flatten the painting prior to framing it, I lightly misted the back with water, sandwiched it between two boards, and left it overnight under a pile of books.

This morning I laid the mat face down and then laid the painting face down on top of it, attempting to center the painting over the opening in the mat, which of course I couldn't see because it was upside down. To check, I held the mat and painting together with my fingers and lifted them up to take a peek. Deciding it looked OK, I attached the painting to the mat using two pieces of acid-free cloth tape at the top of the painting, like hinges. This will allow the painting to hang freely inside of the frame and expand and contract without buckling as the humidity changes.
Then I set the mat and painting down inside the frame. I finished it off by setting the acid-free foam core on top of that, and securing it all with the metal tabs that come with the frame.
Voila. Here's a crooked photo of the result. The frame fortunately is not crooked.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Backyard Ideas from the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

On February 23, Bill and I went over to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show with our cameras to see what kind of ideas we could find for a new backyard sitting area. Some gave us food for thought, while others were more entertaining than practical.

A column/fountain. Lovely.

I adore the idea of an areal retreat in the garden.

A pretty setting, but probably a bit fancier than we want.

I love this organic-looking metal fence.
Here's a closeup.


Ahhh, with this hammock our garden could become a place to relax, rather than simply a place to feed the crows, chickadees, and squirrels.

This patio is set into a bit of a side-hill, like the one in our backyard. Bill wants to use this as a model for our patio.

We found this Hobbit house in the Washington Park Arboretum display garden, which also showcases the flora from New Zealand. Our climate in Seattle is similar to New Zealand's, so we can grow most of the plants from that region.

I never thought of putting a real painting in the garden like this, but I like it.

Roman fountains could lend a more organized look to the backyard.

I fell in love with the striped pillows as well as the mosaic on the garden wall. We have an ugly concrete retaining wall at the back of our yard that would do well with this kind of treatment.

I was liking this display garden right up until I saw the TV. 

Nope. Not seeing this in the yard.

But a popcorn popper could have its uses.

Nope. The last time there was a brown bear in the yard, it scared Rosie and me half to death

Yup.


Yup.

I need this fountain created from musical instruments and copper piping. 

I probably need these for something, too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Artist Facebook Page

I just created a Facebook page for Megan Seagren Fine Art and plan to post my latest works there and some in-progress stuff. I hope you "like" it!

Pea Green Shirt (Self Portrait)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Listed a Painting on Ebay

I've been reading Jack White's books on marketing art, and he suggests using eBay as one outlet, so this morning I listed one of my paintings on there. I have no idea how this is going to go, but I'll keep you posted. If you want to see what I did, go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-watercolor-painting-of-Valentine-roses-/251221764526?pt=Art_Paintings&hash=item3a7dfbe9ae.

Update: Monday, 8 bids have taken the price all the way up to $11.50, with two days left of the auction. Yay! I've got my material costs covered. I listed some more small paintings, but they've had very few views yet.

Final update: Four paintings sold on Ebay last week. I was astounded! With that encouragement under my belt, I listed some more.

This is the painting I listed on eBay. The auction starts at 99 cents. Let's hope it doesn't end there.  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Art Studio on Wheels

Bill and I moved to a small urban home a couple of years ago with no extra room for all of my art stuff, I decided to rent studio space. Although I enjoyed being in the studio and working near other artists, I ended up feeling scattered. I like to work at home during the odd moment, and it always seemed that the very thing needed for a painting at home was at the studio, and vice versa.

I finally let go of the studio and moved my stuff back to the house, where it sat in a heap for several months while I tried to figure out what to do. How could I set up a working studio that wouldn't take up valuable space needed for other uses?

A December sale flyer gave me an inspiration: I'd build two wheeled carts and one small shelf out of Storables steel-post shelving components.

The solution: two 36" X 18" carts on wheels and one small shelf that sits on top of one of the carts, which I custom-made from industrial-post shelving components.
The two carts hold all of the stuff I need to have at hand when painting. They roll up against the wall in our basement multipurpose room (guest room, office, music room, and now art studio). The top of each cart is covered with a sheet of black melamine to create a work surface. Only 18" deep, the carts don't intrude much into the room, but to create a wider worktop, I simply roll them around so their long sides abut, making a 36" X 36" table. The extra small shelf sitting on top of the left-hand cart is easily removed as needed.

The cart consists of five 18" X 36" black steel shelves, four 34" posts, four wheeled casters, and an 18" X 36" piece of black melamine. I also bought heavy clear plastic sheets to cover the shelves so nothing falls through them. This cart holds a LOT of stuff! The small shelf is made of four 24" posts and two 10"X 24" shelves.

This cart consists of two 18" X 36" helves, four 34" posts, four wheeled casters, and an 18" X 36" piece of black melamine. The lower shelf is good for  holding paper and matts. Baskets hang from two connectors on the sides. I designed this cart so I can sit at it if I want. Otherwise, it holds still life setups. My drum-playing stool works perfectly with it.

And my portable easel (described in another post) works well with this setup. If we need to open the guest bed or have band practice in the room, I fold it and lean it up against the wall.