Do you have a dedicated painting area at home?

It’s good to honour whatever form of creative activity you love, whether it is drawing, painting, sculpting, or writing.

What happens when you finally have some free time, or when the mood suddenly strikes you, or when a lightning bolt of a creative idea hits you? The frustration of not being able to get stuck straight into painting is a great way to dampen your enthusiasm for art over time.

How can you organise a space in your home where you can leave your painting materials out all the time?

Make a commitment to set up your own painting area in your home this very week! If you have a spare room, convert it into an art room. If you have a lovely little unused part of the garage, clear it out and set it up with all your gear! If you don’t have much spare space in your home, take a wander around your house right now and open your eyes as if you are a visitor for the first time. Look with fresh eyes to see if there is even a little corner somewhere that can be set up with enough room for you to paint. And have a storage spot nearby for all your materials. Think about where you would really love to paint! It should have good lighting and room for storing your gear.

Do you have a guest bedroom that is only used for the holidays? Think about how you could set it up as a temporary art space for 11 months of the year. Start thinking about a system of quick pack away and unpack to get your art space transformed into a guest space and vice versa. Usually this will be a really good system of boxes that are stored nearby.

I love those big plastic crates with clip on lids. We use these in our studio classroom so it’s easy to unpack for each class and pack up afterwards:

When you have worked out your packing and unpacking system, take out two sheets of paper and write the list of steps down like a checklist, one for packing away (ready for guests), and one for unpacking (setting up the art space again). If it is going to be six months before you have to do it again you want to be able to remember what clever things you decided when it comes to the mad pre-guest arrival rush!

Even if all you think you could do is to share the dining table, then there is a way to make it much easier to set up for painting and clearing away. Lay out all your materials and think about how they would all arrange into an organised system of storage containers. Rather than one big box, shallower trays that stack are preferable. Then you don’t have to dig around for items. or spend time unpacking them each time: you can just grab that paint tube you want and use it straight away. Make sure the containers are easy to stack and carry so they can be stored away neatly and quickly when you have to sacrifice your space again. Label the boxes so you can remember to be organised when you are packing away after a painting session.

Make sure brushes are stored safely, that mediums are safe, and especially be careful about flammable solvents and other dangerous substances. Make sure these are not going to be stored in place where there is excessive heat. Of course, make sure the toxic materials are safely locked away from children and curious pets!

This process of getting a good storage system together for all your equipment takes time but is really worth doing, even if you have a permanent art studio.

If you are an artist who uses several mediums (such as oil and watercolour) make sure to have all the gear for each of the mediums in separate containers. Then when you are in the mood to paint in oil, you only have to get one box out. It avoids the horror of discovering that you have used a precious watercolour brush for oils too!

Make sure that your art materials are all in one spot, and that you don’t have to run to another room to find something when you are in the middle of a creative art session.

If you come up against any resistance from the family, (or from yourself!) – just remember that you deserve it!

What are you going to do today to get your art space sorted?

Jacqueline Hill

Artist, Teacher & Author

Jacqueline Hill is a multi-award winning artist who has been teaching complete beginners how to draw and paint for many years. After extricating herself from a high-flying international IT career, she now paints full time and sells her art to collectors around the world.

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