Posted in studio tip

Organizing Paint Tubes—My DIY Solution

Hello creative friends!

Today I want to share with you my solution to storing and organizing artist’s paint tubes.

I did a TON of internet research looking at the many creative ways other artists used to solve this issue. From pegboard and brackets to cork board and push pins, custom drawers with tiered storage to molded plastic racks, there were quite a few ideas out there, but most of them left me saying, “Meh…”

Part of the problem was that I needed a very specific size to fit on a very specific bit of wall space in my studio—about 27 by 48 inches—AND it needed to hold all of my oil and acrylic paint tubes.

The other problem was that whatever solution I decided on needed to fit my aesthetic and blend in with my studio’s design which has walls of tongue and groove board for a cabin-like atmosphere.

I just didn’t see pegboard or the other solutions as an option…. 😦

Then I saw an idea online by Liz Steel, watercolor artist, that sparked my interest. Here is a photo of what she and her dad created for her paint tubes.

This was closer to what I had in mind for my studio, but it was the wrong orientation and needed other tweaks to fit my needs.

Enter my hubby, or as I have been calling him recently, “Mr. Infrastructure.” He’s handsome AND handy, and when I come to him with a problem and an idea, he helps me think through the options and then helps me create a solution using what we have available if possible.

The solution? Create a shallow box backed with leftover studio wall board (tongue and groove) into which I could drill screws to hang tubes from. The whole thing would be installed onto the wall behind my easel within easy reach and would (hopefully) hold all of my oils and acrylics.

The unit is attached to the wall with screws drilled into the wall stud and is rock solid. The screws the paint tubes hang from do not poke out the back and are 2 1/2 inches long—plenty long to hold multiple tubes if needed.

I used binder clips (size small like these) to hang the tubes from the screws. I bought a package of 144 for $7.99 at Staples and had some leftover.

The binder clips are .75 inch. Minis were too small to go over the screw heads and medium or large would take up too much room!

The hardest part about this project was figuring out how to space the tubes. For one thing, I have a bunch of 22 ml acrylic tubes that were part of a Liquitex set purchased a few years back. Many of these colors haven’t seen the light of day because they were squirreled away in a plastic bag.

There are quite a few of the smaller tubes of colors I don’t use much, but as I use them up they will be replaced with larger tubes of colors I use more often.

Figuring out the spacing for my oil paint was much easier because I generally use a limited palette. The top two rows are my usual oil palette plus a few extra saturated colors I can’t get from mixing.

My paint organizer tucked behind my easel area.

So that’s it! Beautiful and functional. Sure feels good to get those tubes organized!

Thanks for reading and I hope this information is useful.

Till next time, friends. Take care and stay creative!

~R

Posted in Oil Painting

Fresh Off The Easel!

Hello creative friends!

Wow…Can you believe it’s February already? I’m not sure where the time is going, but it sure flies.

As the year gains momentum, I hope that you are getting yourself well-established in whatever creative practices feed your soul. 🙂

One of the things I have been wanting to try this year is creating my own homemade painting panels. I just finished a painting on a homemade panel, and it feels good to have expanded my horizons. More on that DIY process in a future post.

In today’s post I want to share the oil painting I just finished. While it’s what you might refer to as a skyscape, I am thinking of it more as a dreamscape—it’s a little ambiguous, a little nebulous, a little…dreamy!

“Adrift in Time” Oil on panel, 11×14” Available Here © R. Sorrells, Artist 2022

One of the reasons I paint is that it allows me to forget time, appointments, responsibilities, cares, and concerns.

Even when I don’t produce something “frameworthy”, the time I spend in painting, sketching, drawing, and other creative pursuits allows me to connect with a part of myself that tends to go uncared for in the daily grind of life.

I find that I am calmer, less anxious, more centered, and more resilient when I honor the fact that I NEED to spend significant time creating.

So I make it a priority in my life right up there with the other things I need to do like brushing my teeth, making meals, paying bills, etc.

This painting is an example of what can happen when I honor that need.

It isn’t always easy finding the right mix of free time, energy, inspiration, and desire to create, but it is so worth it when they all come together in what I can only describe as a blessing that feeds my soul.

Friends, I hope you are taking time to feed your creative self. It’s so important, and you are worth it!

I’d love to know how you take time to feed your inner artist. Please share your thoughts in the comments and let me know!

Till next time, stay creative.

~R

Posted in watercolor

Letting Go…in Art and in Life!

Hello creative friends!

Today I thought I would post a few of my latest watercolor creations. I wanted to try out some new materials and just have some fun, but what to paint???

Enter “Mo” my studio gnome…

Mo the Gnome

Mo is a daily inspiration to me.

I love his unkept salt and pepper beard and the perfect roundness of his nose.

Though his drab-colored clothing is practical and basic, and his shoes are different sizes and a bit wonky looking, his stocking cap speaks volumes about his whimsical nature.

In short, I can’t help but chuckle when I see him there waiting on my studio desk.

But what does Mo have to do with letting go???

Well, seeing Mo reminds me not to take myself so seriously—to let go of what others think of me and much of what I think about myself.

And since I’m a pretty serious person, I need this reminder on almost a daily basis!

Artistically speaking, being able to let go gives me permission to play and experiment.

In short, it gives me permission to ask, “What if….?” while I’m creating.

That playful attitude helps the artist in me to try new techniques, mediums, supplies, and application methods, which in turn encourages my overall artistic growth.

Even if I don’t end up liking what I create, it’s time well spent to help me know not to head in that particular direction!

Mo reimagined

Without the ability to let go, we lose the chance to grab onto something new or different.

So why is it sometimes so hard to let go in life and in our artistic process?

Fear can be a huge driver in much of this, at least for me.

Unfortunately, fear can come from any direction and take many forms: fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of criticism, fear of losing control, fear of comparison, etc.

How do we combat fear?

By faith in practice and by practicing our faith!

Gnome practice….

You don’t have to be an artist for long (or a human being, for that matter) to know that you will create lots of stinkers and make lots of mistakes.

But you can learn to let go of the failure and keep moving forward, and gradually you learn not to make the same mistakes.

Hummingbird Watercolor on paper Copyright R. Sorrells, 2021

I will leave you with a quote by one of my favorite artists of today, John MacDonald.

“Creativity and learning flourish when we’re on our edge, out of our comfort zone and out of our spheres of knowledge. We can only learn when we’re in the unknown. But the unknown is often terrifying…. When we’re filled with the joy of playing, there’s no room for fear. It is in the state of play that we learn the truth about fear and discover that we can live with it and manage it. And as we become more accustomed to playing fearlessly, we can relax, open up, and begin working fearlessly.”

John MacDonald, Artist

So begin a practice of letting go my friends.

Show yourself and others grace.

‘Till next time,

~R

Posted in studio peek

My Favorite Paintings of 2021!

Wow! I can’t believe 2021 is coming to an end…

Last year I began the tradition of designing and publishing a book of the paintings, studies, and sketches I created through the year.

I started with the idea to give the books out to family and friends as gifts, but the design process and end result have become so much more than that to me.

When I am putting each year’s book together, choosing photographs of paintings and inspirational quotes I want to include, I am able to stand back from the trees and get a good look at the forest I have been dwelling in during the previous 12 months—metaphorically speaking!

I find that when I step back to look at this retrospective, I am given the precious gift of getting to see the arc of my own personal growth as an artist.

And this year I saw BIG changes.

The first change I saw while looking over the paintings I produced this year was a focus on experimentation.

Soft pastel on paper
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

New techniques, new materials, even a new medium (water mixable oil) kept me on my toes and headed out in directions that kept my process from being stale and predictable.

Oil on stretched canvas
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

Another change I consciously focused on this year was quality over quantity.

It doesn’t bother me to set a painting aside and let it sit for days, weeks, or even months if it just isn’t “there” yet because I appreciate how it gives me fresh eyes to critique and move forward in whatever way is necessary to reach my vision.

But this year I have also made peace with the fact that I am probably never going to be a hugely prolific painter…and that’s ok.

I’ve realized that my painting process and personality do not lend themselves to popular social media challenges like “paint 30 paintings in 30 days”.

In fact, I have found that if I can’t stop and linger when I want or need to in order to produce the work my soul is crying out to create, I die inside just a little!—and that is not acceptable to me.

Top: soft pastel on paper
Bottom: oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

But this year the biggest change I actively encouraged in my heart, mind, and artistic process was to really seek out what it was I was trying to say with each painting, and then to let myself express those ideas, desires, and feelings onto the painting itself.

One of the wonderful benefits of allowing myself to work in this way is that I am becoming more aware of my artistic voice—who I am as an artist, what I value as an artist and human being, and how I want to grow in the future.

Oil on canvas panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

As a result, I can see the meager beginnings of a “style” that marks my work as mine and validates who I am becoming as an artist.

And that, my friends, is something I have been waiting to see emerge as the months and years of creating have slipped by.

Oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021
Oil on canvas
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

All of the photos in this post are included in this year’s book, and I wanted to share them with you.

If you have made it this far, thanks for sticking with me to read about my thoughts on creating and artistic growth.

Oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021
Oil on canvas panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

You can read the inspirational quotes that I included in this year’s book here.

But I will leave you with the quote I used to close my 2021 book.

It speaks to this idea of growth and not yet being who we were created to be….

“Beyond myself, somewhere, I wait for my arrival.” — Octavio Paz, poet

Thank you creative friends for taking time out of your precious life to read this post. I pray you will stay your creative course, wherever that leads your heart, and that on the journey you find joy in the process.

Till next time…

~R

Posted in studio peek

Studio Peek!

Enjoying time in my studio on a quiet weekend. I think Callie is enjoying the quiet too!

Working on a watercolor surprise for my sis-in-law’s birthday….SHHHHH…it’s a secret!!!

Hope your day is blessed with time to be creative. 🙂

Till next time.

~R