Original painting called Sea Secret – because most of my paintings are done with enamel based blends I can quite happily stack them up against one another without worrying that they will get damaged or stick to each other. Can’t be dealing with loads of bubble wrap everywhere; besides, my work needs to breathe so that it doesn’t affect the canvas too much. Saggy canvas is not on the menu in my studio!

My painting stands are an absolute necessity. I use them to display work downstairs (yes, I have two floors!) when people come to view and also when I need to let newly framed works ‘rest’ before I take photographs. Stands allow me to put my paintings just about anywhere. This little lot should only be used for canvases up to 120cm tall but I have re-engineered them to take any size I want!

Nothing Can Keep Me From You a recently sold painting.

A big drip art piece called Octavarium. Possibly the biggest shit to paint in the entire time I have been doing this. I painted in an enclosed space for seven hours (my own stupid fault I know!), high as a kite on the hydrocarbons that escape from the paints. On opening the door I was promptly sick. So I guess when I hear people say it looks “sick” I tend to agree with them!

Polythene sheet. I cannot survive without this. I use a non-permeable  heavy gauge sheet that normally only lasts for one painting (as you normally find you start sticking to it after a while). No paint gets through so the carpet stays nice :0). All my work is painted on these sheets. I have tried all kinds of membranes but this works brilliantly. Not cheap but it is the best.

“Me Bucket O’ Bits”… Spoons, sticks, the odd brush, spatulas and whatever else I can lay my hands on resides in the tool bucket. I never throw anything out either – some of my tools have been with me from the start. They are caked in paint but are as good now as they were when I first had them. Brushes are so last year (actually I do use them but not in the traditional way – see later)

Inside the art studio of Swarez

My beloved enamels. I never reveal the brand I use and never talk about what I add to them at source. Three years of experiments have led me to a blend that gives me everything I could ever want from my paints. I rarely use acrylics these days. Mostly I use them straight from the can but also use disposable tumblers when I need to increase viscosity or mix colours together (see later)

New painting (since framed) called Walking on Sunshine. Even though my back is showing some considerable signs of wear I find that I can only paint when I’m bent over a piece of canvas on the floor.  I don’t know why but it feels better that way. I like to hand-make my paintings rather than use pre-stretched – the quality is infinitely better.

Plastic pint tumblers: essential in my weaponry of materials, these are cheap, big and allow me to really see what’s going on with the paint before I apply. It’s just a pity that they fall over easily – especially when the plastic sheeting starts to move around on the carpet. They are great to pour from too (although in an ideal world I could buy them with spouts!)

Thinning mediums. If you’re using solvent based paints you will need some kind of thinning medium – and plenty of it. Mixing is easy but adding just the right amount takes practice. If a mix is done that is too loose then it won’t do what you want it to do and you’ll have to start again. Adding thinners shortens the drying time but extends the usability of the paint on the canvas; which I think is a bizarre thing.

Brushes. Normally I only keep a small amount of fine brushes for adding fine detailing or touching up. recently though I have discovered the other end of the brush (the bit you hold onto) as a way of getting very small droplets of paint right where I need them. I admit to buying the cheapest brushes I can find because I am not a fine artist so i don’t need fine art brushes.

Dare – a new drip painting. Drip art is where I started out as an artist and is one of the genres I am most comfortable in. I don’t do that many these days because they take lots of planning and concentration. These days I prefer a more free and less structured way of painting. However, it is also great fun too as long as you get it right.

Painting Experience Day Painting. This huge 10 foot piece of modern art was painted by a Texan lady who came to paint with me recently. What she produced on the day was extraordinary. Using new techniques and learning about how and what paint does enabled her to translate that information into a something exquisite and a memory that will always give her a permanent reminder of one very special day.

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