Making Art on the Couch
I am very fortunate to have a studio (a spare bedroom in our home) and unless I’m showing art at a festival, or framing, I spend most days in there, writing, or working with art supplies and an audiobook (I’ve just finished this one) starting in the still-dark hours of early morning. When my husband comes home in the evenings, if I want to continue drawing or painting, I keep a tote bag of supplies handy that I can move around the house. The tote bag has a travel palette of watercolors, a few brushes, a pencil case, a ruler, masking tape, the shallow frosting cap from a cylinder of Trader Joe’s pop-n-bake cinnamon rolls (I use it as a rinse cup), a few sheets of gator board as support, and some watercolor paper. #artistatlarge
Simplify the Process
I keep a micro-bead lap desk under the couch, so I can pull that out, lay down a support board, tape a sheet of paper down, and start drawing at a moment’s notice. I usually grid drawings, which makes the process much easier; I can stop for conversation, refill my wine glass, or snap a photo of my shenanigans on the couch without losing my place since I’m drawing abstract shapes in the reference photo one cube at a time. Do you grid your drawings? It’s so helpful, isn’t it!?
My watercolor painting set up is small enough to move easily between the couch and the kitchen counter, so I paint there if my husband wants to surf youtube after dinner from a bar stool next to me. You can do this too, with small studies, rough still life sketches, or even abstract color swatch tests. Pre-tear your watercolor paper to 8×10 or 5×7 sheets, and you can even pre-mount it in groups of four to gator board with tape so you’re ready to sketch at a moment’s notice. A little organization and pre-motor planning goes a long way in getting fast access to move those art supplies.
Artist Studio Storage
And speaking of organization and art supplies, how do you store your finished art? Over the years, I’ve tried a number of storage options, including a large set of HON flat files gifted to me by a former employer (see below). They were solid enough to sit on, heavy enough to require moving help, and large enough to own a room. I lugged them around for years until one particular move where I just couldn’t fit them in my home. I donated the flat files to the art department of a local high school. I have an easy-peasy filing system for small work now, and my larger, unframed work goes into 18×24, vertical cardboard file folders that can be tucked into the back of a closet, or behind a door. Do you know about these (see below)?
Lightweight, Affordable Options
I use these cardboard file folders in the 18×24 format to store unframed art, as well as full sheets of paper. I’ve kept my printmaking paper in one of them for years, with post-it notes arranged like tabs to separate different manufacturer’s and weights of paper. The folders have done a great job of protecting my paper and art from dog ears and dents. I use these clips to hold them closed, and tuck the folders in the back of a closet or under the bed.
Re-Purposed Storage Tools for the Artist’s Studio
I squeeze all storage possibilities from the closet in my studio with caddies like this one by closetmaid in the photo above. In my previous studio, a closetmaid shelf unit with a bag of wooden clothespins served as a drying rack for printmaking (see below). I don’t currently have a drying rack for prints, but I’m marinating on a solution that I’ll share when I get it figured out and assembled. I also use two hanging cloth shoe-boxes (like this one) to hold carving tools, boxes of printer ink, video camera equipment – like the bulbs and the umbrella for my lights in the watercolor at the top of this post. The front-load opening of the shoe hangers are perfect for boxes of business cards, staplers, zip-locked tubes of paint, framing hardware, shipping supplies and the like.
What do you use to store small and large scale flat art, paper and various artist supplies? Being an artist is messy, and the supplies can take over a room (or a whole house, depending on your media). Putting things away and clearing your main work surface for more creative time can make a big difference in productivity. How do you get your space organized? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments, and lets get ourselves arranged and ready for summertime art making.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –
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When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.
– Guy Kawasaki