My approach to working and playing in my art studio seems a bit schizophrenic at times. I definitely want to have my art supplies well-organized so that I can spend my time efficiently. Yet I simultaneously want everything within reach, right where I can quickly grab whatever I need!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been setting up different “art areas” with the necessary supplies for each medium. I have a huge watercolor storage bin that holds my different paints, brushes I’m not currently using, small mixing palettes, sponges, and even a shaker of salt.
Now that I’m experimenting with alcohol inks, I have a separate bin just for them. It holds the inks, blending solution, alcohol, and different implements I use when I’m playing.
I have an area for my acrylics. I have an area for my oil painting supplies. And I have my precious “drawing box” with pencils, pens, charcoal, erasers, stumps, and other drawing tools. My canvases are neatly arranged on shelves, and my various sketchbooks, watercolor pads, and other drawing papers are stacked neatly on a supply table.
For the most part, that method of organization has worked well for me… until recently. Lately I’ve been focusing on drawing — graphite drawing, ink drawing, and “zen doodle” drawing — almost to the exclusion of other media. Even with my drawing box placed close beside my chair, I was still finding it a bit frustrating to always be digging through the box to find the pencil I wanted or to get just the right gel pen for a doodle while working on my art journal. Little by little, I found a lot of thing migrating from box to desk, and while my intention was to keep my desk as clutter free as possible, I quickly learned that some things are really desktop essentials. So, why fight it?
To make my art life easier, I took an empty vegetable can and washed the label off. I have intentions of painting it — someday — maybe — but why? It works just fine and looks just fine as a pencil holder exactly as it is. One of my favorite old mugs now holds three pairs of scissors, a Sharpie, two white gel pens, and a black ink pen I like. I’m keeping a blending stump, a kneaded eraser, and a second eraser right out on my desktop, and the Bob Ross calendar I got for Christmas is sitting there now to remind me what day it is. I also keep one small pad of drawing paper there.
It’s all quite handy now. I no longer need to get up from my chair to rummage around in different boxes or bins when I’m ready to sit down and draw or doodle. Sometimes I do go to the drawing box for a different ink pen, but I can usually grab a big sketchbook, settle here in my chair, and have quite a good morning or afternoon of drawing without getting up and down a dozen times.
And now, I’ve added another “essential” to my art studio. It doesn’t fit on my desktop, but it’s on the wall close at hand. It’s a pencil sharpener! An awesome wall-mounted pencil sharpener! No more of those little sharpeners that always break the lead!
Along with that trash-can my husband got for me, my new pencil sharpener is a very welcome addition to the studio. I laugh, though. I would never have thought the day would come when I would be so excited about a trash-can and a pencil sharpener.
I’ll never be a well-organized artist, but I am making the studio more comfortable and definitely more efficient.
What are your desktop essentials?
How do you organize your art materials?