Tips and Tricks with Elizabeth Tristram

I’ve been self employed for 90% of my adult life, I’ve always been my own boss. I love it, I’m incredibly grateful that I am in a position to do this. It’s not easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way (most of the time). Unfortunately it means that work life balance is a bit of a myth. I try to stick to relatively normal work hours but when you literally have your printing press in the dining room, the boundaries get a bit blurred.

Often people who start working from home struggle with too much home-distraction like not getting out of your PJs or watching Netflix at 10am. After a few years it actually switches to the other way around, not taking time off because work is always there and accessible.

I would like to share some tips and tricks in this post with you, hope you enjoy!

Reducing waste:
Since starting printmaking I have realised how many off cuts I generate. It’s usually because when I tear my paper I always have these oddly shaped bits left over. The same applies to off cuts of metal and plastic. Sometimes these are given to my mother who loves using odd shaped paper in her art. But I also use them in my smaller printmaking adventures. These off cuts are usually perfect for a pasta machine print. They range from really tiny to medium prints – and I use it all. I’m a miniaturist at heart so I love tiny artworks.

What paint do I use:
As you know by now I am a brand loyalist – once I find something that works I tend to stick to it (and cry when they inevitably discontinue stuff). @dalerrowney1783 were my first watercolours, and I still love them. These, however, are a recent discovery. I LOVE the Georgian oil paint. I have used a few different brands, not the really nice ones that you cant get in SA very easily but most of the locally available paints. Most of my oils are Winsor & Newton and I will still use them but as my paints need replacing I am moving to these. I love the texture and flow of these paints, they are so lovely to paint with. And for artist grade paint, this is really affordable as well!

Rough/Mock up:
I always start my oil paintings with a pencil or charcoal drawing and then do my oil paint block in. I’ve recently started doing my base layer in neon acrylics and it’s amazing. It gives the painting amazing luminosity. My first step is two layers of acrylic paint, sanding in between each layer and after the final layer as well.

Storing Paint:
Honestly, the best part of watercolour is being able to just rewet your paint. The most annoying part of oil paint? Dry paint in exactly the right colourWhen I started painting again I had to relearn how to manage this. I tried submerging my palette in water (this was suggested as a good way), I found it didn’t work and everything was always wet. So now I cover my palette in cling wrap and freeze it. I used this trick over Christmas when we went away and the paint was perfect when I got back after a week.

Space Hack:
Here’s a tiny space hack for you guys. I move around a lot, sometimes I paint at my easel, sometimes at my desk. I was using our stepladder as a place to keep my brushes and palettes. As you’d expect, it got full of paint. The husband started pulling faces at me. My solution: I bought this little wooden stand at the side of the road. Here in SA there are people who sell wooden furniture on the side of main roads – this cost R320, super cheap. I painted it blue and put it on wheels. Now it’s my portable artist table and my favourite piece of furniture!

Tools & materials:
I love art supplies & stationary – always have. Giant stationary stores are like therapy for me. Although as I’ve got older I’ve learned to avoid that type of therapy because it leads to conversations like “What is that, where are you going to keep it and why are we poor now?” My art supplies on the other hand are another story. I’m an obsessive virgo so I NEED a full set of everything. That’s just how it is. Every colour, every brand, everything. I’m pretty sure I’m just trying to sell art so that I can buy more paint.

Hope you found this helpful! To see my work, please click here.

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