Having a small space can be frustrating, especially when you are an artist or a mixed media artist at that. Art supplies tend to accumulate and space always seems to be decreasing and decreasing every time you come back from buying art supplies. I am fortunate in that I have a decent room to work in. It’s not a studio, but at least I have my own space. I know a lot of you create on your kitchen tables or where ever you can find the room. I feel for you because I too used to work out of my kitchen.
While I have a good space, I really need a studio now that I have gone on to be a professional artist. But, my art studio is also my office. Not only that but it’s one of the first rooms you see walking into my house. So, I have to do try and keep it neat as much as I can. As many of you know, working tends to create a bit of chaos and clutter. Art supplies are strewn everywhere! While I’m OK with that, I have to have a very organized and clean space before working. I don’t focus very well creatively if everything is a mess around me. It helps me think when things are neat. If I have a very big day of art planned, I will even clean the house the day before so I don’t have to think about it.
But, here are some things I have done to maximize my space as I collect more and more art supplies. I hope you find them useful in your own space.
Try to find good bins to put your paints in to keep them out of the way. I have some of my most important supplies on my craft table so they are always within easy reach. These are my craft paints in the image above. I use them mostly for unimportant work as they are very cheap paints. But, I found this wonderful bin at Target. It worked PERFECTLY for my paints. I stacked them so I could easily see all the colors. Then I put my work lamp and some little bins on top of it so my lamp is out of the way, but over head so I have good lighting.
I love this caddy. I got this also at Target. It’s actually a bathroom caddy. I love it because I can easily stack my important art supplies and keep them out of the way, but within easy reach. Here I have all my colored pencils, Stabilo pencils, pencil pastels, water soluble crayons, oil pastels, inks, etc. I found all these little containers to separate each specific medium so it’s not chaotic. I can grab a container while working. There are also little wire baskets, which are hard to see, but they hold my inks and such.
Here’s an example of my little containers. You can get these kinds of metal containers in the garden sections of either Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. They have little handles for easy carrying.
Here is another container for my water soluble pastels. You can see on the back I have little magnets. So, I have run out of space on my caddy, I have added a couple of containers that stick to it using magnets. There is also a small metal bucket full of chalk pastels that has a hanger and I just hang it from the caddy. I have really maximized my space on this caddy and loads of art mediums stored away.
I shared this one on my Social Media. I was informed it was a “frog” for flower arrangements. I bought it at an antique store, but I bet they are easy to come by on Etsy or Ebay. I found it perfect for my paint brushes. Not for keeping them there for good, but for when I am creating. I stack them there and they are out of the way, don’t roll around on my table or they can simply dry after cleaning them.
I got this one at Hobby Lobby, I believe. Also in the garden section. It was probably meant for herbs lol. But, I found it perfect for my pencils and charcoal pencils. It actually spins so I can easily grab what I need.
Here is another large bin that I found perfect for my markers and pens. This is some “Farmer’s Market” look I got somewhere…probably Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. I loved it because it was a perfect size for all my markers and pens, yet it can be easily tucked away on my craft table shelf.
I found this little container at an antique store for about $5.00. I bought a few more just recently on Etsy along with a vintage metal tool chest. I’m using these little adorable metal containers for traveling. I will stick all my art supplies in separate containers and have it all organized in the tool chest and I can carry it with me when I do my art shows. I can work and do art during down time and people see you working on your art, they are more interested in coming to your tent to see your work. But, they are great containers for just simple storage too!
So, I messed up when I put together my craft table years ago. There were supposed to be shelves here and while that would be very useful right now as I’m adding more and more supplies, I found it also perfect for all my large frames. I collect frames for my art whether it’s for at home or to frame original art for art shows. I only buy frames when they are on sale because they can be quite pricey. I also hit the antique stores and find framed cheap old prints I can take out and replace with art, or if I’m lucky I will find a frame that is empty. But, this has worked out to be a perfect storage place for them. The other side which also has no shelves stores all my canvas. I also utilize underneath my craft table for additional storage. I have two bins, one for recycled substrates to use for my art or practice and the other is full of collage items.
Having shelves is also a wonderful way to keep clutter at a minimum. I use these two little shelves for my sprays. They are in easy reach, but out of the way. I don’t have tons of shelves though, with the exception of these, because I have 1) very little wall space for art and 2) I need my items in easy reach.
This one was one my favorite ideas. I took a towel rack and hung it up on the wall (this one in particular is very heavy, so if you get one like this hang it up on studs) and found these little canisters at Michael’s in their garden section. They worked out perfectly. They are angled so I can grab brushes and palette knives easily while I’m working on painting at my easel. Another perfect way to keep clutter out of the way, but have everything within easy reach.
Of course, I have more caddies! Two of them because one was definitely not enough for all my art mediums! But, they are tucked away in the corner of my room next to my easel for easy reach. These caddies contain my supplies that I use a lot for real canvas paintings. If I need them for work when I’m at my table, I can just roll them over to me easily. The silver one I got at World Market and the blue one I got on Amazon. The one from Amazon, I believe, was relatively inexpensive. They contain my fixatives, glues, mediums like gesso, expensive acrylics and oils, etc. They are also perfect if you need to have them out of the way, you can roll them into a closet.
I also knit and have a large amount of yarns, so having pretty baskets on top of shelving is a wonderful way of keeping it out of the way. But, you can use it for other things as well…put stacks of art pads in them, art supplies you don’t use that often, collage materials, etc.
This is what you see when you walk into my house. So, there are loads of stuff everywhere, but it’s all organized and put away. You cannot see my craft table which isn’t as nice. It can be quite messy when I work, so I don’t want it easily seen while I do it. And, I don’t have to rush to clean it if I don’t have the time to do so. Lots of bins on my shelves tucking away vintage magazines, scrapbook paper, more collage materials, texture makers (sponges, puncinella, stencils, tissue paper, sketch books, and my yarn of course :).
And, let’s not forget the most important piece of your creative areas…that all important fur baby who won’t leave your side. This is my dog Jet. While he loves to be near me at all times, he does not like it when I work. He’s very jittery and nervous, so lots of movement while working makes him pace and look at me like, “can you PLEASE be done so I can rest in my bed?”
Thank you for reading and I hope you get some good ideas from this post!