Ann Kullberg years ago when I took one of her portrait workshops (fabulous workshop btw). Take your little nub of a pencil and glue it end to end with a longer one of the same color - or a different color - it's up to you. Just put a dot of super glue on one of the ends and hold it for a few seconds until it holds. Leave the pencil sitting flat for a few minutes until it gets good and stuck. Now you can sharpen the nub all the way down until it's gone. Bonus: you have too sharpened ends on one pencil to color with.
2. Do you use photos for painting? If I'm not painting from life, I'm using my own photos. One way to break out of a color rut is to print your photos in black and white. When I use a color photo I tend to stick to the general color palette of the scene. When I print it in black and white I feel freer to experiment and play with different colors.
3. Painters, here's an easy way to handle painting the edges of your small canvases without getting paint all over your table or your hands. You'll need a lazy susan. This paint covered one is a Wilton that's sold for cake decorating. Also get some oversized push pins.
Push one pin into each corner of the canvas on the back side. Flip it over, set it on the lazy susan and you can spin the base and paint the edges without having to hold the canvas up with your hands.
4. Take photos of your painting in progress and view them on your phone for a different perspective. Seeing it this way can give you fresh eyes and you may spot something you want to change. You can also change the photo to gray scale in your phone. This will help you see the value range you have in the piece and tell you if you need to darken or lighten certain areas.
5. Instead of starting your painting on a white canvas, tone the canvas with different colors. Try using complimentary colors for your base. For a landscape with lots of green, tone the canvas red. For a painting of a yellow flower, try a violet base. Bits of complimentary color peeking through can make your painting sing.
If you've learned some great little hacks for the studio, I'd love to hear about them. We could all use some help making tasks a bit easier. Share in the comments below.