Artistic tips from professional artists. Organizing an art studio often depends on what works best for you. However, it can be helpful to hear what others have done to get the most out of their painting rooms. We contacted successful artists to find out how they organize their studios, so they are ready for success every time they go to work. Some love a bit of clutter, while others do their best in a neat, tidy room. We asked the best art professionals what worked best for you. And I found a lot of creative ideas in their answers.
Let the technology work for you
Artist apps can save time and space. 45 years ago, when I started my artistic career, I would go to the public library morgue for a photo reference for sketching. Now, the iPad and iPhone have made design and troubleshooting even easier and safer. Specifically, I use an app called Art Studio. It’s a portable photo editor that helps me solve painting problems without ruining the original. The app has multiple drawing ideas easy and painting tools and every imaginable opaque or transparent color. After all, hundreds of ongoing projects can easily save for later use, all on one small device.
The painter Antonio Masi goes beyond individual apps to maximize the capabilities of his iPad. The most useful item in my study is my iPad. It goes wherever I go; it’s like taking my studio with me. My iPad offers extraordinary uses. I use it to archive my references and photos of my work, and I use it in the different phases of a painting in progress. When I use it to display a reference, I can zoom in on a section to see it better. I also use it for records, sales, billing, credits, business hours, workshop hours, art competitions and exhibition times, and deadline reminders.
Eliminate nonessential things
For a stranger looking inward, organizing an art studio would be the last thing that comes to mind when looking at my studio. However, I have a system that enables me to understand what my wife Noelle calls it. As my career started to get messier a few years ago, I realized that I was only moving papers, materials, dog beds, etc., from one part of the studio to another. The dogs followed the beds, but everything else was messy. I decided to remove as much space as possible in the studio to solve the problem, forcing myself to only have the bare essentials on hand. It has resulted in my special workspace now having fewer spaces to stack or clear away debris. While I work, is my studio cluttered up? However, before it reaches critical mass, I have an organization day to sort and throw away things I don’t need. That day is now planned.
Have tools at hand
There are several important tools I want to have on hand while painting. Since the medium I choose is watercolor painting myself and often has internal actions that can change within minutes, I don’t want to waste time thinking about where to put my blotting paper squares. I also use many different types of masking. I want to know where the masking liquid is and where the drawing and X-Acto knives are. The most famous of all these devices are my covers. I always want to know where my brushes are, up to where the # 4 versus # 6. So the secret of organizing my art studio is to keep all of these materials in the same places to minimize disruption and save my time and money to maximize effort.
Storage solution: vertical partitions
Storage space is always an issue, also a watercolorist. I had my painting tables built with vertical partitions from the floor to the worktop. It’s easy to keep the clean paper in its boxes, as are my many vertical painting beginnings. When I label the ends of the box, I can see what I have and easily pull out what I need. The tabletop has a ledge for toe space. It’s not exactly pretty, but it sure works well.
Storage solution: flat files
I find my flat files very useful. Among other things, I have a drawer for watercolor tubes, another for acrylic tubes, and a drawer for brushes.
If keeping track of past work is your Achilles heel, make it easy to take photos and record your business to organize an art studio. In the last 40 years of artistic activity, I’ve tried to keep track of almost everything I’ve done. It is important to have this information as a reference for the books and articles I write and for collectors who want to see my work.
I have a photographic facility in my studio with light, a camera, and a vertical, flat board wrapped in black felt. I photograph one or more paintings, then insert my memory card into my computer, rotate and crop the images as needed, and save them to a permanent file. Every year I make backup copies to ensure consistency: Quilled is also fortunate to have special help. My daughter Allison is archiving all of my pictures from 1972 to the present day, adding keywords related to the date, the medium or medium, and the subject and place where they painted.
Use organizational principles
Organizing tools and materials and keeping them accessible simultaneously is always a goal, so I organize the paint tubes according to color families. Space, even a clear plastic shoe rack to hang on a door. Since different painting styles require different needs, I organize brushes by size and type. To avoid damaging the tip, I store them in large stone containers where they are easily accessible.
I also like to keep paper brands and weights separate and try not to mix them up. I don’t want to believe I have a card type only to find out later that I have the wrong one. The structure of my reference photos helps me a lot and makes it easier to find what I am looking for. For example, I sort my flower first, then by type of flower, and then by color.
Band areas deactivated
I have a lot of various paintings and pictures in the studio, forward with diverse elements and frames. What helps me stay organized is putting some of the space aside and dedicating that space solely to one particular object. For example, I make a margin on the floor and set the writing photos in baskets or folders in the left corner of my workshop and then the easel somewhere in the middle. It keeps the references close so I can quickly find and use what I’m looking for. I also keep my tools and materials locked to my right.
I was flooded with paint. Some of the tubes I bought, others as commodities, and some I gave for testing. Tubes and tubes and more tubes. Most of them were stacked in boxes, Ziploc bags, and random stacks in the corners of my studio. When I needed to find a particular color, I spent a lot of time browsing.
The solution to the mess came while driving to the local construction center, where I saw these stackable plastic bins (above). They’re designed for storing nuts and bolts but are just the right size for multiple tubes of paint. The system is simple, but it made my time in the studio a lot more productive, and I’ll never find myself running out of paint in the middle of a painting.
The great cleaning
Sometimes merciless tidying up is the order of the day and can clear your mind. When both of my parents died after 10 years of parental care, I felt like one phase in my life had ended and another had begun. During that decade, my studio had built up a lot, and my workplace had shrunk. So I did a big cleanup.