Month: January 2013

Week In The Studio 01/25/2013

Two commissions are being painted at the moment. The plan is to wrap them up by the end of the month.

In about six months time I think we need to look at increasing prices. So just a heads up!

Underpainting 8X10″
Oil on Canvas 9X12″

I have an obsession with chandeliers and things sparkly.  I took some time yesterday to take a few reference images for a future project at a local shop. The last one, the little black chandelier, I am thinking would look cute in my studio/office. 🙂

chand3 chand4chand5

Painting In Oil – Part Two – Mediums

mediumsMediums used with oils modify the character of the paint.  I personally like to not have my paint dry too quickly, unless it is an underpainting, and with a medium I have more control over this factor. I prefer to work wet-in-wet whether I return to the canvas an hour later or twenty-four.

Linseed Oil – Made from the flax plant it is the binder used in most oil paints.  There are a number of different types due to consistency, color and drying time.

  • Refined – An all purpose medium.
  • Cold Pressed – Dries a little faster than refined and is considered to be of better quality than Refined.
  • Stand Oil – Thicker with a slower dry time, to touch in one week.
  • Sun Thickened – Syrupy version thickened by leaving a slightly open container of Linseed Oil in the sun (Is actually a bit more complicated than that, but for our purposes here….)

Safflower Oil – Dries faster than Poppyseed Oil but similar characteristics.

Walnut Oil – A thin oil it makes the paint more fluid.  Dries in 4-5 days.  It also yellows less than Linseed Oil

Turpentine – Can be mixed 50/50 with Linseed Oil for a medium. Use an artist grade quality and not household.  Can be purchased in low-odor varieties.

There are a number of other mediums for oil paint, enough for a book. It is all a matter of personal choice.  The point is this is another area that an artist can gain control.

Painting In Oil – Part One

Week In The Studio 01/17/2013

So, what has happened in the last week?  A small local exhibit of paintings began with a reception on the 12th. It will run until mid Feb. See pics/post of reception here.

Current piece (commission) on the easel – Underpainting 9X12″

I have also managed to do some boring but necessary office work: New letterhead and decided upon a new basic bookkeeping system. Other than that the focus has been to adjust to a work schedule that allows me to get things accomplished, but also have my lazy time 🙂

10 Tax Deductions For Artists Working From Home

Ah, it is January 2013, time to start gathering all your tax information in preparation for filing. But, of course you were getting all this information together throughout the year so that you didn’t have to do it all at once, and to help ensure it is accurate! Cause artists are known for being super organized and harbor a deep love of doing all things paper-work related. (Cue sarcasm)

Below is a list of ten items that you should be aware of when going through those receipts in drawers and boxes you have stashed over the past year.

  1. Magazines – That’s right, any magazine that you purchase to read more about your chosen profession, or submit your art to is allowed.
  2. Entry Fees – Time to dig out the information you filed away back in March of 2012 to enter your work in that competition.
  3. Art Supplies – Must have to make art. Anything and everything required to make your chosen art is deductable.
  4. A portion of your rent/mortgage – You will find the necessary information on your Schedule C form, if you work out of your home and can take the Home Office Deduction.
  5. Internet – Percentage of cost you use for business. Related to the Home Office Deduction.
  6. Hardware – Computer Hardware that is. Did get a new Printer last year? A Camera?
  7. Maintenance – Upkeep of studio/office space, such as necessary floor covering, or wall paint.
  8. Office Supplies – Paper used in printer, ink, envelopes etc… that are a all part of business.
  9. Postage – Cost of postage for work sold, or for shipping to shows.
  10. Travel Cost – Did you need to make a run somewhere to participate in a business activity?

*Note- I am not a tax attorney, so be sure to contact a legal professional if necessary

Week In The Studio 1/10/2013

Getting the new year rolling along. Made new brochures, ordered more art supplies, touched up work for, and hung a small exhibit.


After touching up the edges of the oil pieces, they were left for a few days to dry before hanging. I had them all over my work area.


……more paintings with wet edges.


Hung a small show, in local gallery.

I sent a “heads up” email to everyone that mentioned on facebook they were interested in setting up commissions this year. If you are interested and we didn’t get an email sent to you, drop us a line!

Next week = Images of new paintings. 🙂

Pricing Art Work

Pricing ones own art work has always been a challenge.  I have tried different methods over the years with varying degrees of success. Below are ten things to keep in mind when deciding on pricing.

  1. Your sales history is important.  Do you already have a strong following and sales record at a certain price point?
  2. The market you are selling your work. If you are selling exclusively in a small town in Kansas your prices may be dictated by the local economy. But, if you are selling online you will have a different demographic to consider.
  3. Awards and/or achievements can also effect the price, particularly the more prestigious.
  4. How much you are needing/wanting to make is also a factor to consider. Do you want to make $1000 a month selling one or two pieces? Or do you need to do a number of smaller pieces for the bottom line?
  5. How much time will you be devoting to working in the studio and on sales?
  6. Overhead is important. What does it cost you to create your work in supplies, travel etc…
  7. What is the competition for similar work?
  8. Is there a strong demand for your work? Maybe it is time for a price increase?
  9. How long does it take you to create your work? Take into consideration research and the business side of things as well as time in front of the easel.
  10. Your financial goals are important. Do you want to be making $10,00o in sales this year? $50,000 in five?

For me I have found it is a balancing act, and needs to be constantly tweaked and adjusted to meet my needs. But, don’t tweak and adjust it on too much of a whim. Your customers need to know what to expect.


Painting in Oil Series – Part One – Materials

Note: This is the first in a six-part series on my oil painting studio practices, that will be published every other Monday.

Materials for painting can be as flexible as the artist, or as ridged. Below is an example of how I handle the task:


Containers for holding mineral spirits.  I prefer to use recycled jars.  I keep several in the working area to reuse again and again.  For those that do not know, if you allow mineral spirits to sit overnight the oil paint will settle into the bottom of the jar. You can then poor off the clean liquid and use it again. Of course you can purchase a much more sophisticated system, but this works for me. Plus I get to feel like I am being a little green in the process.


The paint brushes I use are rounds or filberts. I have purchased them from a number of companies over the years, now I just go to Utrecht.

supplies5I have used a variety of palettes over the years, wooden, glass, plastic, all different shapes and sizes. I now prefer to use a discarded salad/pie container. I use the clear lid to place my paints.  I then use the bottom as a lid and slip it into the freezer when not in use. Cooler temps keep the paint fresh.

supplies3As you can see from the current assortment of paint tubes on my table, I am not a purist when it comes to brand. Right now I am wanting to use up what I have. Maybe in the future I will be more brand loyal?

supplies2I don’t use a medium very often, if I do it is straight Linseed Oil. But, depending upon the effect and drying time there are a number of options. FYI Poppy Oil will extend the drying time, allowing you more open wet-in-wet time.

studio1An easel is always handy.  Again it depends upon your needs, but I prefer a french-style easel. I can keep the legs up, as I have here, and use it on a table top, or use with legs extended. The built in drawer of course is handy for storing and carrying supplies.

Lighting is of the utmost importance. North light is traditionally considered the best. But with the amazing full spectrum lights now on the market it possible to work just about anywhere. If you are like me and live in a rural area with few options, the internet is a wonderful thing!

I use a number of re-purposed t-shirts for rags in my studio area. I cut them into pieces about 8″ square and keep them near my work area at all times.

If I am working from photographs they are taped to the easel for easy access. If painting from life, it is placed to the right, away from the easel.

Note: I also use a small hand head mirror to check for accuracy. The fresh perspective it gives is wonderful!

So there you have it! 🙂


New Year, New Challenges

I have waited for a while now to say these words, “I am now accepting commissions!” For more information go to information on lining up a painting commission.

So what other interesting things will this year bring?

  • For starters, I will present a series of posts on oil painting. The method that I use, and that I find now works for me. These will be posting those every other Monday, beginning on Jan 7th.
  • There will be a weekly post showing current projects and challenges faced in my studio. The first will be Jan 10th.
  • Ever other Sunday will be a sale or special of some sort associated with Artist-How-To/Barton Studio. Starting on Jan 13th.
  • Each month there will be an interview with an artist. This is tentatively scheduled to post Jan 20th. So if you know of someone YOU would like to see interviewed, let us know.
  • Giveaways and contests of course!
  • This blog and website are all new, and will continue to change and grow as we do. So be sure to look around and let us know what you think.
A corner work area.
A corner work area.
A side area with designated piles.
Painting spot ready to go!
You're probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!
You’re probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!