Wi­nona Nel­son

Paint­ing for life Healthy habits punc­tu­ate the day in­side the illustrator and con­cept artist’s Philadel­phia-based stu­dio

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My work ar­eas are scat­tered through­out my house. I paint in my living room, where I can play a movie in the back­ground. Since I paint stand­ing up, it’s nice to have the couch be­hind me where I can take a break, and I have space to back up far from the paint­ing to get a bet­ter look at it.

I keep lots of art and ref­er­ence books and comics nearby for in­spi­ra­tion, and I have a drawing desk in the cor­ner. I like to draw flat rather than at an an­gled draft­ing ta­ble be­cause it’s eas­ier on my wrist. My com­puter work area is up­stairs in the stu­dio I share with my boyfriend (fel­low artist An­thony Palumbo). My work­flow goes back and forth from tra­di­tional to dig­i­tal to tra­di­tional some­times, depend­ing on the project and how much time I have. I have Blue­tooth speak­ers for stream­ing mu­sic ap­pro­pri­ate to my cur­rent project, to keep me in the mood.

In a typ­i­cal day, I wake up be­tween 8 and 9am, put a few strokes on the paint­ing I’m work­ing on, and then make cof­fee and a smoothie for break­fast. Putting even the small­est bit of work in be­fore break­fast keeps my work on my mind and makes me much more pro­duc­tive all day.

I used to sleep late and then stay up very late work­ing, but it was mak­ing me un­pro­duc­tive and caus­ing repet­i­tive stress in­jury to my wrist. I’ve changed a lot of my habits to be­come health­ier, such as get­ting around nine hours of sleep, eat­ing healthy food, ex­er­cis­ing, and tak­ing regular breaks

to stretch. I use a break timer and take a break ev­ery 45 min­utes, dur­ing which I do lit­tle house­hold chores like wash­ing the dishes. This helps keep me from get­ting repet­i­tive stress in­juries, and by the time I stop work for the day I can re­lax, read and play games. Wi­nona is an illustrator and con­cept artist. Her clients have in­cluded Wiz­ards of the Coast, Kabam, Planet Moon Stu­dios, Flag­ship Stu­dios and Warham­mer Black Li­brary. See her art at http://winonanel­son.blogspot.co.uk.

This is an er­gonomic stand­ing mat, so my feet don’t get too sore from stand­ing while I paint.

At my drawing desk, I use a drum­mer’s stool. It helps me sit up­right so I don’t get a sore back. At my com­puter desk, I have more favourite art books, a mir­ror for easy hand or face ref­er­ence, and space to set up and do small paint­ings. This is my drawing desk. I used to just have a board and sit at my com­puter desk, but I started to get re­ally into Copic mark­ers and built this area to make room for all my marker sup­plies.

When I’m work­ing on smaller pieces, I tape them to pieces of foam­core to raise them to a bet­ter height. I use a long mahl stick I made from a broom­stick with taped-up socks on the ends (don’t worry, I washed them). I use my phone to find ref­er­ence images, and tape it to the foam­core as well so I don’t knock it down.

My ta­boret usu­ally looks like this. The two jars con­tain turpenoid, my favourite paint­ing medium. It’s a mix­ture of one-part stand oil, one-part Da­mar var­nish and three-parts turpenoid.

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