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Ask Kelly Rae is your chance to prompt me with your thoughtful, soulful & beautifully complex questions about just about anything! Art, love, relationships, friendships, business, creativity, home decor, where I got my cowgirl boots — the doors are wiiiide open. 

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Hi Kelly Rae,


I am beginning my journey as an artist and Possibilitarian! My question is what containers or organizing skills do you have for setting up a studio so it functions well. I am a messy artist and I currently have a small space but hoping to expand to a larger space. Having an organized and well thought out space for where to put all the papers, paints, pencils, markers, embellishments scraps and do dads would be very helpful. Shelving or drawers? Open spaces for containers? Should I have a file for all the different types of papers?

Thanks, 
Jennifer
Hi Jennifer,
So glad you asked this question and so glad that I’m not alone in making beautiful messes!
I love getting a peek into how others store their supplies and how they set up their creative spaces in general. I’ve had so many different set up through the years – from a corner in a dimly lit basement to a dining room table to big space outside my home – but the one thing that remains the same no matter where I’ve created (or how I’ve organized the space) is the intention to make it as inviting and nurturing as possible. 
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” – Joseph Campbell

Creating art is a sacred time, a time to unleash your playful spirit, nourish your soul, and fill your well. Just as we would set the scene and/or create a ritual if we’re heading into meditating, or prayer, or into a meaningful conversation, it’s important to do the same with making art.
There are so many ways to organize your space (I’ll share my tips below), but the most important thing is to notice what feeds YOUR soul and to create an inviting environment that will support it. So if creating in the middle of the kitchen island with lots of activity swirling around is working for you, then great! If you notice that your soul needs quiet, then perhaps moving your operation to the corner of quiet area in your home would be a good move. I’ve seen some pretty amazing closets that have been converted to creative spaces! The point is is to give yourself permission to claim your art-making time as sacred, important, and to create a nurturing environment for it.


For me, that usually a candle, a cup of tea, perhaps some music, and always always an intention for that day’s painting session…..usually on a post it note……
These post-it note intentions are little reminders to stay as carefree as possible during the creative process, little touchstones to return to again and again while making stuff.  Super important. 
SUPPLY ORGANIZATION:
Ok, let’s get to your original questions about how I organize supplies! 

Here’s a quick tour of how I store my art supplies. I’m a big fan of keeping my art supplies out where I can see them. I noticed I wasn’t using them unless I could visually SEE them. I’m also a big fan of rolling carts….

Paint:

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

I keep all of my paints (and gel mediums)  in an industrial rolling cart – perfect for moving them around. Carts are tricky to find, but I generally find them at IKEA, or some kind of salvage/junk store.

Papers:

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

Rolls of wallpaper and wrapping paper hang out in a large vintage basket. 

I keep smaller pieces of paper in a rolling cart of drawers, organized by color. This particular rolling cart came from IKEA and it rolls right under my studio table.

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

I keep more papers and book sources in an old pink trunk. All my papers are out and easily accessible.

Ribbons:

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

I keep my ribbons in my very own tiered tray. This tray sits right on my table. If you’re interested, you can purchase one here.

Inks and such:

I keep my spray inks, ink pads, and alphabet stamps in tiered baskets. And I keep brushes, texture tools, and stencils in one of my rolling carts (from IKEA).

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

I keep more stencils and stamps in another rolling cart (from IKEA). These rolling carts are KEY.

Pens, Pencils, and more

photo credit: Zipporah Lomax
photo credit: Zipporah Lomax

I keep small buckets of pens and pencils and other small stuff in a industrial roundabout that sits on my studio table. Love this thing. I bought it from Create-ologie which no longer exists online (boo), but again I’ve seen these around at industrial type salvage shops.

Ephemera:

I found these vintage jewelry containers and they’re perfect for holding small ephemera, such as buttons, stamps, and more. I usually stack these on top of each other to help save room.

Thanks for the great question! I hope that helps 🙂
Keep em’ coming,
Kelly Rae



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Hi, I’m Kelly Rae Roberts! Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my whispers and started playing with paint, and everything changed.

I’m now a full-time artist, author, and Possibilitarian who helps women explore their creativity, nourish their souls, and build thriving creative businesses.

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