NOTE- this is not the only list you will find. These are simply the things that I like and use all the time. There are other ways of doing things and I am by no means saying that my way is best. In fact my way is probably harder and much more time consuming.
1. Paper towels - You probably think this is silly to put on the list, but I never realized how many paper towel rolls I go through until I looked in the studio recycling bin. Buy them in bulk, you'll thank me later. I don't just use them for cleaning up paint and wiping off my hands. I lay sheets of them on my table to try and save on cleaning, I spray test colors on them and use the corners to keep my paint bottles clean(er). I use smaller sheets to wipe out the inside of my airbrush gun too. I let paint drip down the outside of the paint well and it went right for the nozzle. I ended up spraying color I didn't want on a place it shouldn't have been.
2. Pipettes - I use these A LOT! I mix paint, load my gun and use them to get small fuzzies off my projects. Especially when I don't have the airbrush set up. I get them in packs of 24 and I have already gone through several packages.
3. Toothpicks - Again, these are something that gets a ton of use in my studio. I scultp, mix paint, remove lumps/dust/hairs from In Progress horses and so much more. Working with the micros, I like to shave the end down and use it for very tiny sculpting areas and for getting in hard to reach areas.
4. Q-Tips - I use these mostly for cleaning my gun. I take the outer most nozzle off so that the needle is exposed. Sometimes paint builds up on the exposed part and I use a wet q-tip to clean it off. Gentle enough not to bend the needle and strong enough to remove the paint. I also use them to get left over paint out of the gun. Using a wet q-tip, I press the trigger back and forth; this causes the paint inside to get sucked out onto the q-tip. Sometimes it takes longer then normal, but worth it in the long run when I don't have to spend more time unclogging and cleaning my gun.
5. Index cards - Great for writing little notes and reminders. I use them for writing out my color recipes and taking notes on particular horses. I wrote the horses mold at the top along with the color I am going for. Then I list out the colors that I think I will use. I add note such as how much was used as an all over color of if it was used for shading and roughly how much (Light, medium, heavy) This is great for when I want to go back and attempt a color again or if something went wrong I have a place to start and can make changes where needed.
5B. Color Index - I had a really hard time knowing what colors would look like once they got on the horse. They always look so different in the bottle, most of them I wouldn't think to use if I didn't know better. I cut index cards in half, then sprayed them. I started very heavy at the top and faded the color towards the bottom. After they dried, I wrote the name of the color and put a dot of raw, unmixed paint next to the name. Then I took Baseball card holders and put them in the slots according to color. This helps me decide which colors I want to use since I can see what they look like on white paper. Seeing them in different amounts can really help you figure out if this is a color you would use on the entire body, just in shading or both.
6. Lazy Susan - I use this to store my bottles of paint, spray cans, extra water containers and more. This is a big space saver. I got a 2 layer one from Bed, Bath and Beyond in the Kitchen section. Works great in smaller spaces and makes sorting through colors much faster. I have the smaller 2 oz. bottles of paint on the bottom layer, they all face the outside with second or extra bottles on the inside. I have also started storing my apoxie in the middle of the bottom layer since I don't use it as often but wanted it to still be easy to get to.
7. Tray Organizers - These things save me so much time! I have several multi drawer organizers under the sides of my desk, each drawer has a category of things inside; brushes, paints, office supplies, prepping/customizing supplies, etc. But I was finding that I was going into the same drawer several times to get everything that I needed. I found some nice drawer organizers at Target and used them to hold all of the things in each drawer. For example, now when I am going to use the airbrush, I pull out the organizer with all the paints and mixing bottles in it. If I'm going to be working on details I put out the organizer with brushes in it. This saves me quite a bit of time because everything that I need is in the one organizer. Then I just pack it all back up into the container and away it goes in the drawer.
8. Clock - This sound ridiculous, but invest in a clock. Something that is easy to read and can sit right in front of you. After my first 4-5 nights of accidentally being in the studio until after midnight, I got a clock. My phone works, but I have to push a bottom to see the time and if my hands are gross that's not happening. I do set a timer on my phone to try and help me know when to start cleaning up and whatnot. But a clock is something that can be a big help. Continuous air compressors usually have a certain length of time they can stay on before they overheat and shut off. Mine can run for 30 mins straight before it automatically shuts off. I use the clock to help keep track of how long its been on. I do shut it off in between layers, when I wipe it out, mixing colors or get distracted. But the clock helps keep me on track when I'm in the studio.
9. Proper lighting - Everyone talks about making sure that your work area has proper lighting, but they don't always talk about the type of lighting. For me, I prefer cool light and LED. I have a hard time reaching the ceiling and for how long those lights are on some days, I like knowing that the LEDs will last a long time and don't use too much energy. I also use a cool light LED in my desk lamp. I find that it is closer to daylight than the warm light bulbs. Some people hate cool light and prefer warm, that is up to each person to decide. Having multiple light sources will help with shadows and help prevent missing things or improperly shading/coloring something. Its amazing the difference some colors have in warm versus cool light.
10. Something to hold your references - I'm still looking for the perfect thing for my studio. Right now I am tacking them to a bulletin board and leaning that on the lazy susan so that I can see it. I find that if I don't have my reference set up and where I can see it, I won't use it. If I don't use it, I will make mistakes. Happens every time. Something to keep them standing up and flat is a huge help when painting or customizing.
I can't really think of anything else at the moment. I know that there are other things that I do/have in the studio that are very helpful to me and I hope to possibly share them again down the road.
In my next post, I plan on sharing the learning process that I have been on doing the actual painting. I have pictures from most of the horses I have been working on, but I hope that it will give some insight on the learning curve of using an airbrush.
Until next time,
Here's to not messing up the February horses!