Mise en Place

I resisted this for so long: "a place for everything, and everything in its place." In French cooking, mise en place means "to put in place." Ingredients are cut and prepared ahead of time so they can be dashed into the pan easily and at the right moment. Recently, I have started my painting session by putting everything in its place. Clarity in my workspace gives me mental and emotional clarity to do my work well.  I think of my art mentor Faith Stone. She would talk about cleaning her workspace before getting to work, especially when feeling scattered, to clear her mind.

Here is how I set things up:

  • Warm colors in one row, cool colors in another, neutrals (whites blacks browns) in the last.
  • A jar of water with plenty of paper towels and rags.
  • My fav brushes front and center, less important ones off to the side.
  • Image references - paintings, online images, other artists' work. Often, I use my phone or laptop.

I learned how to set up my palate from the class I took at UW last year. Damp paper towels with wax paper on top is the bottom of the tray. That way, the acrylics keep a nice consistency during the whole work period. My palate is a wide shallow Tupperware so it can be sealed until the next work session.

It's like starting the day with meditation and a clear mind. Letting go of mental clutter and learning to be cool with pure potential and the present moment. Some days, meditation feels like a chef artist - mise en place. Other days, it feels more like training for the rodeo.

How do you mise en place