Work Stations – Studio Smart

Don’t be an aspiring painter, be a painter. Be an artist, not becoming an artist, not learning how to be an artist.  Claim it!

You are all in, and then we artists must all produce art work. Here is a really important tip:

For artists, the studio can be thought of in terms of work stations. Each one always ready and tooled for a specific task. Even if you only have one drawing board on one desk, with one drawer and one paint brush.

Doing the art of your choice is a state of “being there” bliss. Yes, we must all still be productive, even if it is a hobby.  Even things like casual doodling should not use time to find tools and materials; doodling should not be dwadeling, having to look for stuff in different places because we are disorganized.  We should be able to just doodle, with tools at the ready, supplies there, and a place for the doodle “art” to land when finished.

It’s not about being super organized, or even efficient.  It’s about being effective in using the time for rendering your art. There are times when my studio sits idle for weeks or months and collects junk but none the less is ready, because it is set up in work stations.  Even when filled with boxes headed to storage, I can cut, paint, draw, glue, fix, create, not necessarily efficiently, but effectively.  Note: I do try and keep it clean though, and usually do!

Here is what a work station is:  First and foremost, no preparation should be needed to use it; not even clean up – that should happen after you finish your last piece you did.  The work space should always be artist-ready!

It is not size, but the assembly of right tools and materials for one specific task or skill.

A surface to work on, a light to work by.  Materials, tools and supplies within ready reach to use.  A place to put the finished work that is other than the work table.

Simple enough, right? Example: If you watercolor, your main area is set to do that.  Paint, water, paper, tape, rags, tools, supplies, anything that you include in a complete watercolor work session, is right there.

Even when you write or sketch or do other work in that space, it is “set” for watercolor.  If you’re sketching, the supplies and tools should be adjacent to that area in drawers, or containers.

If you paint in oil, set that work station in oil painting readiness, and if you choose to watercolor there also, set it also in watercolor readiness.

Don’t put all your supplies in one place, your tools in another place, and your materials in another place. Not in cabinets you have to go to, not in drawers over against a wall, but “there,” right there at the work station.

If you use one space to do several different skills, then you must re-set or mix your work station.  Your work “boxes” or “drawers” should contain everything needed to reset the “station.”  That is a very common situation, but if you are lucky enough to have several work stations in one room, one for drawing, one for painting, one for layout, a space for photography or whatever you do, then each one is set with its own tools and materials.  Pencils at every station, erasers, knives, brushes, pens, etc.  Duplicate or triplicate tools is both smart and useful.  It is not expensive.

I paint, and draw, and silversmith, paper sculpt, work in glass and mixed media, acrylic, photograph, computer render, copy and file, etc.  In my studio space, I have a dedicated surface for each and a common place for the unusual (fixing grand-daughter dolls, or broken stuff).  I don’t have a large studio – 18’X26’, that is about equal to a couple of medium bedrooms.

My drawing board is always render ready. The larger layout board is always standing by. The easel is canvas ready for painting or drawing within moments of inspiration striking.  Each area with its own set of tools and supplies.

The computer work area is adjacent to my smaller drafting table and that is adjacent to my colored pencil and felt tip pens with both flat and tilted drawing surfaces, ink and fine point graphite all within the same seated area.  One seat with four work stations within reach and without having to get up.  The thing that takes time is clean up and pre-prep of canvas or stretching paper and such.  Those things are table tasks and are done on the “big” table which has its own knives, pliers, pencils, cutting mat.  Glues, and a drawer full of small items, such as: tacks, string, wire, staples, hole punches (3), pencil sharpeners (3), stacks of paper by the ream, shelves nearby hold chemicals and solutions.

The tip: assign a work space and condition to each various task, and keep it that way: “Work stations.”  Now when you go to do art, it is art you are doing, not prep or search or distraction, just do art.



4 thoughts on “Work Stations – Studio Smart

  1. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    I have been organizing my workspace for a few days now…
    and I have to smile as I read your words…
    Thank you for the gift you share in your art and thoughts…
    Take Care…You Matter…

    1. eightdecades Post author

      I appreciate that you read my blogging too, and that you are getting your workspace ready. I found after I wrote that post, I too wanted to clean up my space a bit more. I will post a few more ideas because of it all. Thanks

  2. inthedarkwoods

    Inspiring and motivational – thank you:D I’ve actually just finished reorganising my work space this morning, and I’ve got something that looks like a proper studio now. And it feels sooo much better!


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