How to Organize Your Art Supplies
Rainy days sometimes inspire me to organize and we’ve been having a lot of them lately. One of my personal messy areas is my art studio. While a bit of chaos might spark some creativity, there are certain kinds of disorganization that, for me, aren’t conducive to working. Whether you are an artist, a quilter or an occasional crafter, you might find some of my observations and product recommendations useful when setting up and organizing your own space.
Now I’m not going to go Marie Kondo on my studio or anything, but there’s nothing worse than not being able to find the right color paint, or unintentionally stroking a dark charcoal pencil over some carefully modulated graphite just because all of my various pencils were jumbled together in a drawer. I keep my graphite separate from my charcoal and my paint types separate, as well as loosely organizing them by color. And yes, I also like to organize by brand.
Brushes are another important studio accessory that require special care, storage and organizing. I like to store water media brushes separately from oil brushes so that I don’t inadvertently get oil residue in acrylic paint or ruin a hog bristle with acrylic. Storing brushes upright in jars keeps the bristles from getting damaged but when I’m cleaning them, I lay them flat on a towel so that the water or solvent doesn’t sit inside the ferrule. Once they’ve dried overnight, I store them upright in appropriate jars according to size and style, i.e. flats, filberts, points and so on.
You may not be aware of this but kitchen lazy Susans are absolutely great for holding art supplies including brushes, mediums and other items. They’re available in a range of sizes and materials, including some double-tiered models. I use them to store small paint bottles and love the accessibility.
Because I work in a lot of media, I find drawers to be a great way to stash a lot of stuff. If you have a dedicated art or craft room, tabourets or similar furniture are great for keeping things organized. This colorful ten-drawer storage unit is easy to assemble, lightweight and has a flat top that’s great for storing brush basins, brushes or other items. Convenient wheels make it easy to move where you most need it and at only 13 inches wide, it takes up little space while providing a lot of storage in its 12 x 15-inch drawers.
For storing larger, heavy paint jars, this beefier cart fits the bill with roomy 15.875 x 11.5 x 2.5-inch drawers. It comes in black or white and also includes wheels for easy mobility. Recessed handles are non-obtrusive while making it easy to access the contents. The opaque, close-fitting drawers make for a clean appearance although you may want to add your own labels so you can quickly find your supplies.
If you’re lacking floor space, you might like this smaller 3-drawer storage unit that fits nicely on a desk, table or shelf. It has three drawers and clear plastic so you can easily identify the contents. It’s 9 inches wide by 12 inches deep, making it great for storing small drawings or standard-sized paper. Multiple units arranged side by side will give you a surprising amount of storage for paper, paints or other art supplies.
If you like to make work onsite, you might need a portable storage solution for your art supplies. This 5-compartment storage tote is perfect for storing inks, pencils, brushes, polymer clay and a host of other supplies. Even though I mostly work out of my studio, I have several of these for holding odds and ends. They’re inexpensive and easy to tuck on a shelf, which is great if you don’t have a dedicated art and craft space for your supplies. Just bring it out on your Sunday painting day and return to its shelf once you’re done. Of course, these are also great for art students taking classes or working on location.
There are some supplies that are better stored right under your work area so you can just grab them when you need them—especially when drawing is your medium. A well-equipped drafting table is essential to an organized studio. This wooden drafting table comes with a full-length drawer with five compartments for pastels, pencils, measuring tools and other supplies. The wood design is so attractive that even if you don’t have a studio, you might not mind dedicating a corner of a room for working. The table has an adjustable work surface to suit your preference. Organize-It has a large selection of drawing and drafting tables, some with stools and onboard storage.
When planning your work space, here are a few other considerations–consider the light source and windows when setting up your work area. You want to get maximum light on your work. If you are painting, consider some shelving that allows you to store your canvases upright. freedomRail is a flexible shelving storage system and you could easily build your own custom craft or art storage in a couple of hours. Purchasing modular storage units, whether it’s small drawers or a freedomRail system allows you to grow as your hobby or profession grows. Buy what you need now and add to it when you need to.
Most importantly, plan and organize the space that fosters your creativity, whether it’s through some feng shui, or just paying attention to how you work and what feels good. And remember that organizing is creative too. Check out our Organize-It Blog post for more on creativity and organizing. Have fun!
*Tip: sometimes a simple plastic shoe box is a great place to dump little odds and ends…