Here are some tricks I that have helped me over the years!
1. Use a thermos, travel mug or water bottle for your beverage while painting. This way you do not have to worry about dipping your brush into your drink, and it lessens the risk of your drink being spilled all over your project.
2. If you do not like using harsh chemicals such as turpentine to clean your brushes there is a product called “The Masters” Brush cleaner that works great for Oil, Acrylic and Watercolor. They also have hand soap and a marvelous stain stick. If you are short on cash Dawn dish soap works well for brushes, even oil brushes. Dish soap is made to cut grease so works well for oil paint, it may take a bit longer than traditional brush cleaners but you are likely to have it on hand and it’s cheap and more importantly safe. Some shampoos may work also for the same reason.
3. If you have been drawing intensively for a long period of time and have an achy hand run it under warm water. The warmth is nice for the ache and the beating water acts as a massage. Also, a small rice sock works great too.
4. Use an old, large, candy/chocolate tin to store palette in fridge to keep paint wet in between painting sessions. I spray the palette before putting it in and keep the freshness paper right in there so the paint doesn’t obtain additional moisture from the fridge. If you are using acrylic check your palette periodically as acrylic is prone to molding. I have used mine for up to two weeks without an issue. This is a good alternative to using a stay wet palette made with paper towels as those are quite prone to molding. The tin itself is a safer alternative then just covering it with tin foil because there is less chance of paint coming in contact with food if you keep a messy palette.
5. Always lay brushes flat or hang them upside down while drying or storing. Do not leave brush in water too long while working. Leaving the brush in the water container bristle side down while working will eventually warp the bristles. Storing them bristle side up while drying can cause un-rinsed paint particles or water to build up in the barrel of the brush which will eventually clog the bristles or rot the brush.
6. When starting a piece always draw the preliminary sketch on lighter/cheaper paper then transfer it to your more expensive paper or canvas. This lessons the risk of damaging the good paper during the preliminary stages while you are working out your composition. It also allows for more mistakes and less worry when erasing giving you freedom to change things around more without worry of wasting expensive materials.
7. When opting to use the grid method for a preliminary sketch I use graph paper, it saves a lot of time and is more accurate than drawing the grid myself. This helps me a lot since I have astigmatism so my vision is a bit skewed at times. Bonus-less measuring!
8. When drawing it is usually more accurate to work with the piece upright, laying it down in front of you pushes part of it farther away and can distort things. (This is something I struggle with myself as I feel like I have more control when leaning over the drawing) (demonstrate distortion with piece) It is also better for your back when you are not leaning over a piece.
9. If you are someone who does not have a studio and have to clean up between sessions use a fun pouch to put the tools you are currently using the most. That way they are set aside for the next session and you do not have to weed through the rest of your art supplies to find them again.
10. Take a picture of your artwork while working on it, it will help you see it with fresh eyes. Using a mirror or turning the artwork upside down can do this too. (Though there are exceptions when it comes to the mirror-) When all else fails if you are feeling overwhelmed by a piece sleep on it. Do not be afraid to put it away and come back in a day or two to set fresh eyes on it.