watercolor studies in a sketchbook

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Art Studio Prep for Winter Projects

The obstacle course that is my studio has to be dealt with. I’ve been cleaning in here for a few days, a little at a time. I can see the floor now. 

Small spaces get cluttered quickly, so I use two baker’s racks to store as much as I can fit into a closet. It’s a tetris game behind closet doors. All it takes is sliding a frame out to measure it, and pulling a bin out to find a particular print, and I’m bumping shins on things.

I’m not complaining, because I had no studio for decades. And I accept that this is part of the deal of being an artist. Clutter messes with my creative flow, so it’s time to sort, purge and tidy up.

a floor covered in stacks on matboard, cardboard, paper towels, an art portfolio, boxes with matted prints, and frames
Cleaning the art studio. Thinning, donating, sorting, and arranging to make more mental room to create this winter.

Podcasts in the Art Studio

I listen to podcasts or books when I clean. If you’re getting ready to streamline the space where you sketch, paint or doodle, here are some short-ish options to consider in audiobooks and podcasts:

  • Sergio Lopez and Joshua Lawyer have a podcast called Waiting to Dry, where they talk about being painters, and interview painters and illustrators on topics like methods, branding, marketing and influences.
  • You can check out the details here.
  • Antrese Wood is an amazing painter I met when we were both still working at Disney. Her popular podcast – Savvy Painter – is loaded with interviews of artists from every painting genre, and each of them are full of great nuggets of wisdom and warm profiles of fellow creatives. Give one of them a listen here.
Laying in shapes in a 8.5 x 11.5  Hahnemule Watercolor Sketchbook as a study for a larger watercolor
a cat curled up and sleeping with text that reads Expert at Studio Naps while the artist is working
This is how Scout the Studio Cat looked during the past few days of studio cleaning. During today’s napping session, he was even sporting a nose-whistle while dream-purring.
a sketchbook opened to a double-wide watercolor study on a kitchen counter, with a cell phone reference photo and the foot of a wine glass visible
Painting in a watercolor sketchbook on the kitchen counter again. My trusty totebag of art supplies encourages painting on the fly. (With wine, even!)
Studio Wall: Getting things tidy and ready for new drawings, new paintings and new printmaking this winter
A hand holding a sketchbook open in a broad horizontal format showing a watercolor landscape study
Finished this watercolor sketchbook study, and pondering how it might look enlarged and refined (but not too much) on hot press watercolor paper. What do you think? Leave it, or paint it larger?

Less Than Glamorous

I suspect you and I are both juggling this month. Jobs, grocery shopping, laundry, pets, emails to answer, family members to help, art waiting to be finished, holiday-related tasks… it’s all a bit too chaotic.

I know it would be good to finish this studio clean up, and then go for a walk. But I’ll probably answer a few emails and make dinner instead. I’ll at least get some sketching time just before bed tonight.

Have you explored that option as your winding down routine? I hope so. And I hope there are pockets of space for deep breathing, a walk, a podcast or an audiobook to squelch the running list in your mind.

It’s a mini break on the brain to listen to an hour here and there of artistic inspiration, ideas and encouragement.

Wishing you a week of checked-off boxes on your list, cleared space in your art making space, and new ideas for upcoming art projects.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –


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watercolor sketchbook opened to a double spread watercolor study of cypress trees, pink flowers and a garden view beyond
Study for Cypress Viewfinder 8.5 x 23 Watercolor, Pen and Ink
Click the greyhound to see the details on this free course.

Art Quote

In The Music Lesson, Edith DeCamp sits patiently listening to her daughter Sally practicing the piano.  The play of light on the backs of the figures, casting their faces in shadow, reinforces the notion that, in his “portrait pictures,” DeCamp was more interested in dissolution of form and generalization of figures than in the greater degree of modeling characteristic of his male portraits. “I am painting a girl in a beautiful dress,” he once noted, “but I have to keep remembering that it is not a dress I am concerned with, but a piece of light.”
~Joseph DeCamp, Laurene Buckley


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13 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketchbook Art and Art Studio Clean Up”

  1. Hi Belinda. I like the composition of this painting. It may benefit from cropping the right side a bit. I liked looking at it on my tiny screen so I wonder if it would look good simplified like a Grant Wood. I love the lance like shapes of the trees and how you modeled them. Thanks for your sharing.

    1. Hey Sally, Thanks for the note. I like the idea of a Grant Wood styling on this – especially to delineate all those upright greens. And a right side cropping would be good… perhaps moving the flower towards the left to balance the pinks on the left side? Great feedback!

  2. Love this. I am listening to a book from time to time on tidying, and when I listen I do tidy. The studio needs to clean up because it’s in my house and people need to be able to come in and walk around to look at the art — which is everywhere. Love the painting. Just gorgeous. Happy Holidays! <3

    1. Hello you, Ahh, yes, the home and studio and art gallery juggle… you do have to keep things at the ready. Especially with teaching/work hours padded all around and in between. I always knew you were superwoman. 🙂 XOXO

  3. I”m moving sometime in the next two months. I have no exact date. I’ve lived here ten years and I’m a packrat. So, not much art. But thinking back, I know I’ve always had a “don’t lose this stuff” bag, and it always has a sketchbook and pencils. That will be my art goal for tonight – my ‘safe’ bag.

    1. Kirsten, Good luck with your move, and I hope your safe bag of art supplies helps the chaos of moving feel more stabilized and less stressful. Art can be the keel on our sailboats, keeping us upright and pointed in the right direction. 🙂

  4. Susan Pickens

    I would consider cropping on the right hand side- the balance feels a little off. Left page is fine. nice palette and idea.

  5. Kathleen Roberts

    Thank you, Belinda, for this beautiful, timely post!
    My husband has been hounding me recently to “straighten up” the mess in the small room I use for my artistic endeavors. (I dismiss his comments, because he’s an engineer and likes things neat and orderly. Our opposite dispositions attracted us to each other initially; but, eventually, there has to be some give and take, I work in a room that also serves as a guest room, so every so often I do have to organize things to make room for the comfortable (i.e., not messy) accommodation for a guest. Our guests don’t seem to mind sharing this room. They have a comfortable bed with a bathroom not too far to walk outside their room. And it does bring up comments about art the next morning at the breakfast table. 🙂

    1. Hi Kathleen, I too have had a guest room studio for a few years during one chapter of our lives, and I remember tidying up for incoming guests. The thing that stuck with me after doing that was the excitement I felt to get back in the studio after everyone had gone home. A big part of my anticipation was that my work space was CLEAN! That made me understand that my creative brain craved order too. In particular, tidiness helped to *begin* a project. The process itself might create a mess, but getting started – which is a hurdle for some folks – became more enticing if my table was organized and tidy. Bravo on the art-chat over breakfast the next morning with your guests! It’s our job to demystify the art-making process and invite the people who think they are not creative to come and play.

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