Studio Essentials: Technology in the Studio

Oil painting, along with most art-making techniques, is an ancient practice. Its story goes way, way back, yet there are always new lessons to learn. My role in the history of oil painting is relatively small, but I am privileged to tell its story. As an artist in the 21st century, I have access to certain programs and devices that help me write the story of oil painting in a modern age. Below are some of my favorite tech items that make my life easier, more efficient, and so much more enjoyable!

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AirPods :: Listening to something through my headphones has always been a part of my studio practice. I jump between music and podcasts, and since I’m usually the only one in my studio in the mornings, the sounds coming through my headphones keep me company. My AirPods were a gift from Austin for my birthday this past May, but I can’t believe I didn’t get them sooner! I used to get so frustrated when the cords of my headphones would get tangled in my apron or when my paintbrush got caught in them, and I end up flinging paint all over the place. As someone who errs on the side of clumsiness, headphone cords were a hazard to my artwork. Since I got the AirPods, I quite literally feel liberated from the cords of headphones. Another great perk of the AirPods is that I don’t have to have my phone in my apron or jeans pocket - it can be halfway across the room, where it can’t distract me from my work. That’s a double win for productivity. At first, I was a little worried they would fall out, but they fit very comfortably in my ears, and never come loose. I even wore them on a run in the heat of a Texas summer, and they didn’t budge. I’m the least “techy” person out there, but these headphones have quickly become an essential gadget.

Laptop :: Since I work from photos, having a laptop makes it so easy to display all of the photos that I bring back to the studio after a weekend at The Farm. Not only does my computer act as a slideshow for my source photos, it is the workhorse of my studio practice. Every graphic, every blog post, and every photo edit happens on that 13” screen. Within the past year, I made one of my first big business purchases, and bought myself a new MacBook Pro. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like a computer that actually works, and doesn’t give you the colorful Wheel of Death every time you click on a link. Needless to say, my laptop is definitely the MVP of my digital collection.

Planoly :: Over time, I’ve learned that the best Instagram posts are the ones that have been carefully considered and given forethought, and not hastily posted in the moment. I don’t necessarily plan out each and every post a week ahead, but if I take a photo that I know I’d like to post, I add it to Planoly, which helps me see my feed as a whole so that I can make sure I’m adding a variety of photos and telling a well-rounded story on my feed. Planoly allows me to fully type out captions, and even schedule posts, so that I can work on a few posts at a time, and essentially forget about it until I get the notification that it’s time to post!

Snapseed :: My photo editing style has gotten further from using filtered looks, and is leaning towards enhancing the photo as it is, and making it look as natural (but as beautiful!) as possible. When it comes to photos that I’ve taken on my phone, I don’t like bothering with editing it on my computer, just to send it back to my phone, so that is where Snapseed comes in! This app has most of the functions of my favorite desktop photo editing programs, but can be easily used on my phone if I am on the go. It’s more advanced that the editor in my Camera Roll, but simple enough to be accessible on my phone. It comes in handy when the lighting for a photo isn’t ideal, and makes a huge difference in the final product!

There’s a time and a place for the balance with digital devices, but these are just a few things that I always make an exception for!