Your set up for the workshops
Technical Requirements & Set Up for Online Workshops
The space you will work in:
Easel and workstation
Make sure your easel is at a comfortable height by placing your canvas or board in position – the centre of your canvas should be about shoulder height. If you are sitting make sure you are not too far away from the canvas as this will cause back and shoulder issues.
If possible place your easel where you can step back at least a few paces to see your work from a short distance – this is important to do regularly while you are painting and drawing.
Your paints/palette, brushes, paper towels etc should be within easy, comfortable reach while you are working at the easel. I keep a table next to my easel with a large palette on it and everything I need next to it. The aim is to have as little distraction and fuss while transitioning from palette to canvas to keep the ‘flow’.
When mixing your colours on the palette, have as large a palette as your space will allow – or two. These can either be wooden/plastic palette or tear off palette. Non while palettes work best (ie grey or brown). We will be doing a lot of colour mixing so it is important you have a good set up ready for this. It’s very easy to get into a mess quickly if you don’t have enough space. If you hold your palette on your arm while painting this is fine, but it may ache after a while if you are not used to it. However, still have a table to the side of your easel to place everything on.
If you are working on a table i.e. the paper/canvas is flat on the table, while this might be more comfortable or you don’t have an easel, please bear in mind that the perspective can be slightly affected in your work. If you do work at a table, improvise by propping up a board so it is more on an angle – like an architects drawing table where it is tilting towards you. You can do this with books or bricks and a board etc.
Whatever the weather and time of year it is important that you have stable lighting – or at least as stable as possible. This can be a challenge. If you rely on natural light it will fade by early/mid afternoon (depending on the time of year) and will potentially be changeable if there is sun reflection. I use artist lighting – strip lights which can be clamped to the side of the board or easel and easily angled. These lights are designed to not cast shadows which is important. The temperature of the bulb is also important – mid temperature works best.
Spend some time setting up lights – it takes longer than you realise. Put a picture onto the easel and use this as a guide for setting the lights correctly before your workshop session. There are links below for more technical information about lighting and also a link to where to buy artists lighting from.
I will be providing the reference material for the online workshop sessions for the portrait workshop and also a choice of reference material images for the still life workshops. I will also be encouraging you to set up your own still life compositions at home or in your studio to work from as well as images you might like to take yourself. If you set up your own compositions think about the lighting again. First make sure it is a composition that excites you, that you really want to paint. The idea is to get good contrasting light which gives you a good tonal range across your subject.
If you are using printed images whether your own or mine, it is important that you get a few black and white version prints outs of these. They can be on plain A4 paper. If you have access to a good colour printer, a quality print out is good to work from.
On screen – you will also have the image reference to hand on your computer. Make sure you can see this on a decent sized screen i.e preferably not on a mobile phone. Drag and drop (or save) the image to your desktop so you have easy access to open it rather than leaving it in your email (which is how I will send it to you).
The larger the screen the better. You will need this to see Zoom and my demonstrations plus when I screen share and look over your work with you, as well as, looking at your reference material.
Positioning your reference material: is key – I have a couple of adjustable tripod stands that will hold an ipad/tablet next to my easel at the correct height, if you are using this as your main reference device. If you have a print out – make sure there’s a place you can tape it so it is at the SAME level as your canvas. It will make it much more difficult for you to work well if your reference is down somewhere on a table and you have to keep looking down etc. Having your reference as close to your working canvas is important so it is just your eyes needing to move from the reference to your canvas for continual comparison.
The online workshops take place using Zoom. To download the link please see below:
Note: if you are new to Zoom I recommend that you take a little time getting to know the app. Have a go at setting a meeting and a play around with how it works. Make sure you view Zoom from a desktop computer or a laptop. Smaller devices tend to be fiddly and unstable. You will also need to view what I am doing clearly.
Make sure your wifi connection is stable.
Some students use dual monitors - you can read about this on the Zoom website. The help pages are comprehensive and there are webinars/tutorials.
Before each workshop starts I will be checking all my connections/setup on zoom to make sure it is running smoothly before I enter the actual meeting. You can do this too by opening up a new meeting and checking everything before you click on the workshop link to enter the session.
During the class I will ask each student to send me updates of their work so we can chat 1-2-1. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to photograph your work with your mobile and send it to me using WhatsApp. This is my number for WhatsApp 07840 056206. Alternatively Dropbox or emailing the images to me is also fine.
Your Internet Connection and computer
You don’t need to have a fancy computer or high end equipment. One of the best things to do before you start a session is (in advance) reboot your router and your computer i.e. turn it off and on again after a few minutes. This resets and clears the cache. Many times students are having connectivity issues because there system is running at half speed when it doesn’t need to be. Also, if there is other usage on the wifi eg someone else in the house streaming or gaming etc, this takes up a lot of bandwidth and may bump you out of Zoom.
Be as prepared as possible. If there are any of these areas you are not sure about have a practice run, even if it’s for 15/20 minutes. I have practice runs all the time!
Make sure you’re warm and it is as quiet as possible.
Don’t wear your nice clothes…
Take regular breaks even if it’s walking out and back into the room.
Approach with a sense of play.. there is no pressure
This is a useful link about lighting a studio
There are a number of different lamps that can be purchased with varying price range. Phillips make a good selection of bulbs. Aim for 5000K-5500K daylight bulbs and if you can go the extra and get a rating of 90+ CRI (this is the true colour level) that is a bonus.