Art Supplies: Lab Coat for the Studio

Lab coat with long sleeves.

Yes, it’s a lab coat. I just bought one at a uniform shop to wear in the studio. No scientific experiments in the studio–vigorous multi-media work. It took just one drop of brown ink to wreck my cotton blouse, and a stray drip of PVA glue, tinted with acrylic paint, to wreck my slacks.

After I made that blouse and shirt my studio clothes, they were in the washer next time I needed them. I could see my wardrobe turning into all studio clothes, all the time. I wanted something that I didn’t have to change into and then change out of when I left the studio.

Most artists seem to love the long bib-aprons for the studio, but they don’t work for me. The top, bib, part is never wide enough for the generously proportioned.

The neck tie part needs adjusting when you move from sitting to standing,  and I don’t want to keep retying it. The waist tie allows a shirt to crawl up and over, and results in constant tugging and paint fingerprints on the edge of the shirt.  Professional chefs, who suffer from the same splatter problem,  wear those loose button- tops for a reason.

The lab coat covers my shirt and pants, allows for free movement, doesn’t care what I spill on it. When I plan on being very messy, I wear it backwards, giving me total coverage and a look that will scare the most intrepid vacuum cleaner salesman from the front door. And I never have to change into- or out- of it. It covers what I’m already wearing and makes dashing into the studio easier, less of a chore.

All artists know that any time they leave the studio can be the last time. A lab coat makes it easy to come back, even for just a few minutes.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist, author and certified creativity coach.

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5 responses to “Art Supplies: Lab Coat for the Studio

  1. This is a great idea that gives me an idea. I can make one, maybe using scraps and some old shirt pattern. And maybe put big snaps on it instead of buttons, just for ease of on-&-off. Thanks Quinn!

    • Ohhhhh, Rosaland–the creative coat of many colors! How wonderful is that! Yeah, snaps is a good idea. I opted for it until I was sitting in the store and sneezed and the chest snap popped.

  2. A set of scrubs would work too – they are fairly inexpensive and very comfy

  3. That lab coat reminds me of an artist I once heard about. Everybody said this artist was mad, but some of us saw something else there. Wore a lab coat. Had a strange little assistant who was kind of bent over and walked with a limp. “Ivan” or something, can’t quite recall. The people in the town were a little worried about this artist, but not really sure. Then late one fateful evening, the artist and the assistant were working frantically, trying to get something ready. They were working both in the studio and outside. The story goes they knew, somehow, a big storm was coming.

    The storm DID come, making the townsfolk even more nervous. They heard — or imagined they heard — strange noises on the wind at the height of the storm.

    Then the morning came, and everybody finally saw. Pages and pages of watercolor paintings, hung and tacked out in the savage storm. The artist was there, in the lab coat, exulting and shouting “It’s aliiiiiiiiivvve”!

    But I dunno, maybe it’s just a story they tell in that town to scare the children into coloring inside the lines.

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