I thought it would be interesting to provide a behind-the-scenes look at my painting studio, since this is where I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time as I go about my current batch of Non-Representational Entoptic Phenomena. If anything, this is a record of my workspace during a productive phase and could be helpful for other artists, because I work very cheap. I’ve always been annoyed by how expensive art materials are, and I’ve managed to work very big and keep prices low.


This is the main work area, a wall covered with 2 Mil. Plastic and wood blocks toggle bolted into the wall. The wall can fit a maximum 7 x 4 foot canvas, which is held in place by the wood blocks. Easels are so 19th century for indoor painting. You can see the square areas of paintings, like ghosts that once existed and are now gone, and obviously the wall is used to test colors and techniques.


Here are the Large Bristle Brushes I use for the backgrounds in my current paintings. They are used to feather and blend colors together, providing an out of focus blurred effect. They are constantly being cleaned because they get full of paint very quickly, and the best way for drying is to hang them like a cache of freshly caught fish. I use the Home Depot Drop Cloths as my canvas, ironing them completely before stretching them on pine frames. This costs about 10% the price of professional artist’s canvas.


The little white shelf, directly to the right of┬áthe work area. A big wash brush for wetting the canvases, Blick Heavy Body Acrylic for applying areas of solid pigment, my respirator for when I’m spraying, epoxy, blue tape, all manner of pencils and implements, and a nail clipper for removing the imperfections on the canvas surface caused by dried paint, dirt, and the shedding hairs from those bristle brushes.


Brushes. Never enough brushes. A leftover bunch of cardboard tabs (more on those later) and my friendy trendy little wooden artist manikin that takes on the pose of however it fell over the last time. In this case it looks like it’s facing the wall with arms facing backward, as though ready to jump.


These are the cardboard tabs I use to get the paint out of the jar and onto the canvas. The idea is to use a new cardboard tab each time so the paint doesn’t get contaminated. The paint is blobbed onto the canvas and then the brushes are used to blend it. It’s all about getting the paint to the right place and keeping the color true.


This is the edge of my drafting table, right where I can grab things when I need them. The spray bottle is very important because everything must remain wet while blending. Dry paint does not blend. Believe me, I’ve tried. Some of the jars of paint are here along with a cheap paint called “Blickrylic” that I’ve started using a lot. Good color at a low price. And look, a selection of clean, new cardboard tabs!


An area of the wall with minimal paint spatter and a Temperature and Humidity Gauge. This comes in very handy in determining how fast the paint will dry. Remember, wet paint blends best. Also, here is an electrical wire with the strange coating of dust and paint that appears on everything after a few months of using spray paint.


The spray paint, a selection of colorful Montana Black and Home Depot Matte Paints. As it turns out, the most important spray paint is the white, because it is used to create a base for the color to sit upon. Again, you can see the unique and pervasive spray paint dust. A respirator is au rigueur.


Finally, a section of the back shelf for saved paints and yucky supplies. Spray glue and fixative, YUCK. The brown jars contain a range of yellow, beige and brown paints used for Decorating Gourds, and the plastic containers are filled with the primer and pigment blends I use for painting Mandalas. These will be useful again some day.


Chris Bird is a designer for print and web specializing in the development of marketing materials for a varied spectrum of clients. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, California. His music website is at and his painting and fine arts website is located at