My Studio

I know it’s not much to look at; it’s only a small bit of tabletop, but you don’t need more for Chinese landscape painting. Because I don’t have a lot of space I’m forced to work small. But this suits me since I like to create artwork that can be held in my hands and enjoyed close up. I don’t paint for galleries or museums. Let’s go over my workspace.

From left to right:

  • You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a file cabinet on the left side of my workspace. Here I’ve got magnetic cup hooks in a row from which I hang my brushes to dry.
  • Top left is my iPad–great for images to use as models for paintings. I can zoom in as much as I like.
  • Below that I have my noise-cancelling earbuds plugged in. I wear these when I can’t block out the sound of TV from the rest of the house. I can also listen to traditional Chinese music (I prefer guqin) to get me in the mood.
  • Below these is a small brush rest. I’ll explain about these some other time, but you’ll want one.
  • At the top is a black stand to hold my iPhone for when I get ready to photograph a finished painting.
  • Next to it is a bright daylight balanced LED light. Working a full-time job, I often have to paint at night (and the house is quieter after everyone’s gone to bed).
  • Directly in the middle are my containers for paint, which substitute for a color palette.
  • Below and to the right of these is a small round water dropper.
  • The lower center is taken up by a white felt cloth on which to paint.
  • On the top right are some brush and tool pots.
  • Below this are more containers for paints and a glass bottle of water. You need a lot of water. Elegant with a stopper, I got it at the Salvation Army store cheap.
  • Below this are three glass water containers. One is for clean water, one for washing black ink off my brushes, and one for washing color off the brushes.
  • Bottom right is a porcelain palette for creating tonal washes of ink.


There are lots of introductory books in English on how to paint in Chinese style. Usually they show a setup similar to this. Mine doesn’t look very traditional, since I’ve mixed and matched and used what I had available. Later I’ll show and tell more traditional tools and explain about the ones I have.

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