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.