In March 2014 we decided to convert our 20 x 14 foot workshop into a fully functional studio, a place that we could work full time all year round. The workshop is situated in a lovely position in the little wooded area of our garden. Its away from the lane and cottage so it is extremely quiet, so it's perfect for a productive days work as an artist. We had some friendly builders renovate the workshop for us, they insulated from floor to ceiling, laid floorboards and tongue and grove on the walls. They installed a new triple layer felt roof and replaced all windows and the front door with double glazed units. We have a heating system so we are cosy 24/7. It's bliss! If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can see see photos of the renovation process.
Once the studio was complete it was our task to decorate and make it a cosy working environment. A kitchen area was vital for us, not only to wash brushes at the end of the day but to make cups of tea. The work top is solid beach with a little ceramic sink. Three draws and two cupboards are perfect for storage. The kettle is always on for visiting clients!
We wanted to create an area to entertain clients when they visited so devoted one corner as a relaxing entertaining space. It also has our vintage plan chest which holds all of our paper and canvases and doubles up as a packing station too.
This is my area for working, you can see my storage units and drawing desk. My desk rises so I can work at different angles and my iMac is positioned next to it for all my business needs. It means I can answer emails as soon as they come through, plus the yearly accounting tasks and also designing and maintain all of our websites too.
We have plenty of lighting in the studio. Both Nicholas and myself have our task lighting above our easels, being super duper dimmable daylight LED units. These are perfect for using all year round, especially on dark winter evenings. We also have three light panels on the ceiling which are flat panel lights giving ambient lighting around the studio and create the effect of skylights.
Living in Wales we have very long, dark winters. So we have lots of warm lighting in the studio to provide a lovely ambience. We work long hours and so this helps lifts our spirits when its cold and rainy outside. We have plenty of solar lighting in the garden to light our pathway down to the studio too, it all looks very pretty.
The long thin window you can see next to the door has been tagged as 'Lily's Window' as she sits and looks out of it on most days...unless she is having a well deserved nap as you can see below! Lily's window gives her a perfect view up the garden path towards the cottage.
Moving onto our materials now and we only use the highest quality materials for our portraits. The materials we use use need to be long lasting, archival and of extreme high quality. This is why we constantly try to source the best materials available to us here in the UK.
Nicholas has a good relationship with a very high quality bespoke canvas company here in the UK. Nicholas exclusively uses their Professional Artists Canvases which are made using extra wide stretcher bars with mitred corners, made from Tulipwood (Hardwood) and are stretched with medium grain Italian Linen canvas and fully primed. The canvases are 25mm deep and can be framed in the traditional manor. Alternatively if requested, we can paint the edges and they can be displayed directly on the wall for a more contemporary feel.
I visited Florence Italy in 1993 and bought back with me a selection of papers to experiment with and try. Out of all of the different papers, the Italian Fabriano range was perfect for me. There are quite a few different types of Fabriano, my favourites is an off white, heavy weight, hot pressed variant which has a deckled edge as you can see in the photo below.
I couple this with a traditional quintessentially English brand of pencils by Derwent, the pencil factory is located in the north of the UK in a beautiful part of the country.
The photo below was a quick snap I took in the studio one day of Nicholas' brushes in his jug, against his painting on his easel.
Nicholas' brushes and pallet are a very important element to his paintings. Everything is fine tuned to the way he works and paints, even down to his pallet of colours which are very personal and unique to each artist.
We had a delivery of canvases which will keep Nicholas quiet for a few months as you can imagine. They will soon be masterpieces hanging in our clients homes.
Renovating the Studio
Here are a few photos that we took during the renovations, which took approximately 9 weeks from start to moving in. The fist photo shows the bare bones workshop shed and the first job was to take up the floor and insulate it. The ply wood in the third photo will be going on the ceiling once it has all been insulated.
You can see in the photo below that the insulation is being put on the walls. The tongue and groove was then added.
The central photo shows Lily admiring the work. You can also see the new double glazed windows and a new additional window for light.
We had a new triple layer felt roof and double glazed door installed which you can see below, along with the new windows. It was all getting very exciting at this point and we could start to imagine how it might look when we had finished.
The undercoat is on the walls and the worktops are being prepared and the kitchen area and a sink was being been installed. We varnished the floor about 4 times..almost too good to walk on!