Is Your Coloring Area Working for You?

If not . . . why not change it!

I knew that my set up was not the greatest for doing my art, but because I color in my home office (which was never designed for coloring or water coloring) I just shoehorned my art activities and supplies into this area. Needless to say, I don’t have much spare room on my desk either. But lucky for me, my husband recently installed a computer keyboard tray to free up some space.

Now when I color, I can move my Wacom pen tablet to the side and have nearly a 14” x 18” area in which to color. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining because this small space hasn’t stopped me from becoming a successful colored pencil artist and occasional watercolor dabbler.

When we built our house 19 years ago, I had no idea that 15 years later I would start (and become addicted) to coloring. Unfortunately, that means that I missed the golden opportunity to design a studio for my future art endeavors. At this point, a remodel is not a viable option. But all is not lost because, thankfully, I did design a very functional home office that could double as a creative space.

This was working well for me for a few years. But over the last 12 months there has been an explosion of supplies in this room. When a new art supply would arrive I would just try to find an open space where it could be stored. That has resulted in my coloring process becoming inefficient. I seem to spend a great deal of time getting up from my desk to find pencils, sharpeners, markers, you name it. Nothing was within arm’s length here on my desk or necessarily being stored in a logical place.

I know that if you’ve been doing art you totally understand this uncontrolled growth of supplies. I am no longer limited to a single set of colored pencils. Oh no, I have multiple complete sets. My marker collection has grown to over 300 markers. Don’t make me count my watercolor tubes, brushes, or art papers. I do pride myself in the fact that when I purchase supplies, I use them. But I need to store them conveniently so that they are easy to find and access. There is nothing like having to move a stack of papers to get to the one you want. I have enough experience now to really know which of my supplies are my go-to and those that are occasional use only.

So, a few weeks ago I took a break from coloring and decided I was going to reorganize my desk so that when I color my supplies are convenient for me. My number one goal was to get my colored pencils on my desk instead of in the drawers that are located across the room. When I would color, I would inevitably bring the drawers of pencils to my desk where they would teeter on the edge (a disaster spill waiting to happen) or simply crowd out my already limited coloring space. I spent way too much time stacking and unstacking these pencil drawers as I looked for the pencils I wanted.

My solution, a small 12-section wooden organizer that only takes up 3” (deep) by 8” (wide) of my desk space. I sorted my pencils into 12 color families and now have them sitting to the right of my coloring space here on my desk. Number one goal was achieved! As an added benefit, this little organizer has a little catch-all section at the base and that is where my spare pencil extenders, miscellaneous erasers and random handheld sharpeners now live. They are no longer spread out in several cupboards or drawers around the room, instead they are now easy to see and find.

My next goal was to find a good way to bring other miscellaneous tools to my coloring area. I gathered up all my rulers, graphite sketching supplies, color wheels, colored pencils that are now shorter than 3 ½” in length, etc. These are all things that I use in most of my projects so it would be beneficial to have them also within arm’s length when coloring.

Change is not always easy. As I looked at these items I’ve just gathered up, I knew that I needed to free up space for them. I checked the cupboards and drawers and I felt like the things in them just can’t be moved. I mean, the contents have been in these areas for 19 years. I can find things with my eyes shut. After stewing, I had to admit that I had a top drawer just to my left side at the desk that is housing office supplies that I really don’t use often in this phase of my life. I mustered the courage to purge what was useless at this point and find a new place for the remaining office supplies. Now I was able to move the rest of my coloring tools into this drawer. Oh, are you wondering how I have my short pencils stored in this drawer? I found small garden like tins (3 cups with a handle). I purchased two, removed the handles and store my short pencils in them. They don’t roll around the drawer and the pencils are very easy to find.

It took the best part of a day for me to reorganize my coloring area. It was so worth it because having my most used tools within arm’s length at my desk has really enhanced my coloring process. I had no idea how nice it would be to color without continuously hoping up and down to get what I needed. If I have limited time, I can sneak in some coloring because I can get something done in a short period with everything so handy.

At this point I haven’t addressed the storage issue for my papers or paint supplies. I use the paint supplies less often so they are okay put away until I am ready to paint. My paper, well, I do need to set a goal to reorganize for ease in accessing the paper I want. But for now, it can wait for another day.

Have you thought about your creative working space? Is it time to ask yourself if it is working for you? Not sure how to answer that? Well, have you ever talked yourself out of coloring because it’s too much work to pull everything out and set up? Then your coloring space might not be working so well for you. Have you talked yourself out of coloring because you can’t find your supplies? Then your coloring space might not be working so well for you. Have you ever talked yourself out of coloring because you don’t have enough light? Then your coloring space might not be working so well for you.

The good thing is, once we identify what’s not working so well, we can figure out how to improve or fix the issues. In the end, we are off and happily coloring again. Truly, it’s a joy when your supplies and coloring space works with you instead of against you.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, we are surrounded by more and more shiny things. Do you want to learn how to add shine to the objects you color? Join us all month as we learn what and how to make your objects shine.

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Shiny Things here.

You can see more of my work or follow me on Instagram.

Follow the Practice Corner on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more inspiring stories and tips to help you keep practicing and finding new joys through your coloring.

©2020 The Practice Corner