Part 3 – Art Studio Hacks

Welcome to part 3 – of Art Studio Hacks

This is part 3 of Art Studio Hacks. Feel free to catch up on the earlier 2 articles of art studio hacks, the first article is here, and part 2 can be read here. There are so many easy things you can do to improve your art work flow, and save you money on art supplies too. At the end of this article feel free to share your ideas, or add any comments below. So many artists have graciously shared so much with me. It is in this spirit of giving and learning that I want to pass along a few things too.


jars and squirt bottles of paint
Nova Color jars and Golden Fluids paint. Squirt bottles filled with custom mixed paint

Art Studio Hack #6

Save all those empty squirt bottles from agave or honey containers to mix your own colors in. Talente Gelato jars make great containers for acrylic pours!


Colorful paints

Art Studio Hack #7 – Mark your Lids

Some of my favorite artist paints are from a southern California store: Nova Color.  They are economical and they are quality paints with heavy pigment load and comparable light-fastness. If you typically use glazing medium, you’ll notice no difference in paint quality, you will notice the savings in paint costs. IF you don’t use a glazing medium, then some colors might look a little more flat than what you get from Liquitex or Golden paints. Dabbing a spot of paint color on the lids of your jars or paint makes it easier to find the colors. However, I also mark C or on the lids to quickly denote if it’s a cool or warm color, just by quickly looking. You can also mark them TL or TP to denote if they are Translucent or Transparent.


quart and pint jars with vaseline lids
Art Studio Hack – put Vaseline around the lip of your paint jars to keep the lids from sticking


Art Studio Hack #8 – Get Your Lids Off

Yeah, common problem with the pint and quart jars, they stick. Whether you use Golden or Nova color paints – they’re nice at first, but wait to you have paint on the rim, they stick and you’re straining your wrist to get the lids off. Quick, grab some VASELINE and run a bead around the edge/lip of the jar – problem solved. Yeah, it’s a pain to do, but you’ll thank me for it later. Remember, if you like to work ‘in the flow’ of things, spend an afternoon fixing your lids and then never worry about it again. When you get a new jar of paint, 10 seconds to prep with Vaseline, are you’re good go!!



Metal paint tube squeezer a must for the art studio
Metal paint tube squeeze a must for the art studio


Art Studio Hack #9 – A Dime or a Half Dollar?

Okay, if you’re using tubes of heavy body paints, there’s always some paint left in the tube. You know it’s in there, but squeezing that tube to get the last bit is near impossible. Here’s the thing, you think it’s maybe a little blob the size of a dime, but it’s really a blob the size of a half-dollar. This is where you need a paint tube squeezer! Don’t make the mistake that I did and buy this plastic resin one, ugh, it is a, pardon my French, a total piece of shit! Spring for the metal one, it will save you a butt-ton-load of money in paint that you’d otherwise throw away.


Put locking wheels on everything! Makes it very easy and convenient.


Wheels on large movable shelves too

Art Studio Hack #10 – Wheels

Like I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, my easels have locking wheels, in fact almost every single cart, desk, shelf system has locking wheels, there’s only 1 table that doesn’t. My studio has grown over the years and rearranging to make room for bigger canvases, and more supplies makes having things on wheels an almost necessity. If you’re painting out in the field, then get spikes for your tripod, box easel, or pochade, but in the studio – wheels win!


Photo shoot with XENA Warrior Princess. Calibrated Monitor,
Photo shoot with XENA Warrior Princess. Calibrated Monitor, correct ICC profile, helps ensure correct color on-screen and in print


Art Studio Hack #11 – Color Calibration

This mainly applies if you are posting your artwork online or having prints made. Monitor calibration is often overlooked and can seem daunting, but programs these days make it very easy to do. I use XRite Colormunki, but Spyder is also a good option. Once the monitor is calibrated, take high-resolution photos and be sure to get the proper ICC profile from your printer or at least supply the file in their recommended format CMYK, RGB and at the correct resolution/PPI. While it is true that many people don’t have a calibrated monitor when viewing online, if you can at least have things right on your end, you’ll be ahead of the game – especially when it comes to prints.



Art Studio Hack #12 – Resist

If you are painting with acrylic and need a resist, you can buy a quart of masking fluid, or you can cut a “frisket” out of clear shelf liner. Its more economical than frisket film and it adheres better too.  I’ve not tried it using it for watercolor on paper though, I use masking fluid for that. Anyone else with experience using shelf liner on WC paper?


Storange bin lids make great color palette covers
Storage bin lids make great color palette covers. Just mist the cover and your paints with a light coat of water and then cover with the lid!


Art Studio Hack #13 – Large Palette Covers

Okay this studio hack is kind of supplement to art studio hack # 3 The freezer paper makes a great palette liner, but then you need a large cover for it. This is where large storage bin lids really come in handy. You can leave paint on your palette for a week and come back to moist acrylic paint. The lids have a slight recess in them, leaving plenty of room for paints inside. I’ll usually place my misting bottle on top of the lid just to give it a good seal. If you don’t have palette/freezer paper, you can put your paint right on the inside lid, but it wont stay wet as long.

So many hacks, so little time..

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little mini series of hopefully helpful things you can practice in the studio. Painting in the art studio is just one small facet of being a full-time artist. There are so many other hacks that are related to selling your art too: like shipping, marketing, promoting. Maybe next year if anyone has an interest I can share some of those too. Right now I’ve just accepted another commission – my last for the holidays. So for now, enjoy the holiday season and don’t forget to breathe!


Enjoy the Season

Remember: Things can be stressful, or they can be at your own pace – be sure to make the distinction, you are in complete control.


Lots of Love,

deb sigline


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. clinock

    All of these are brilliant Deb and thank you for them. #11 baffles me a bit though.
    #8 is probably better than my banging the lid on a hard surface…but it feels so good!

    1. Deb B

      Don’t feel bad, # 11 baffles a lot of people

      As for #8, I wouldn’t want to take your fun away. My wrists are damaged from all my years as a wood turner/carver, so they need all the help they can get!

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