How To Organize Your Painting Supplies

Recycle Items for your Art and Save Money!

Store your paint brushes according to type and size, bristles up, in clear condiment jars!
Store your paint brushes according to type and size, bristles up, in clear condiment jars!
Recycle styrofoam from meats (wash first)as disposable painting palettes, cut outs for stencils and patterns, or cut into shapes for painting stamps!
Recycle styrofoam from meats (wash first)as disposable painting palettes, cut outs for stencils and patterns, or cut into shapes for painting stamps!

Recycle Items into Art Supplies...

I am a more than frugal-I am a cheapskate! So, when it comes to my art, I save my BIG money for the paints and brushes, and cut corners any other way I can. That is what brings me to this hub. You can never have enough clean, empty condiment jars! I use them for everything from mineral spirits and painting mediums (water, linseed oil, turpentine, etc.) to paint brush holders. I separate my brushes into flat brushes, round brushes, etc., and store them handle down and bristles up. For the painting mediums, I save the lids as well, so I can stop evaporation as well as minimizing messes. i like this method much better than putting them in an "art box" that might cost more than I am willing to spend.

The styrofoam that holds cuts of meat from the grocery store gets washed and re-used as well. These work great as paint mixing palettes, plus I have used them as original stencils, paint stamps, and a myriad of other things. If you paint with acrylics, once the paint is dried on them you can soak them in water, peel off the dried paint and recycle these as well. (That's how cheap I really am...lol!) To make them into a paint stamp, just draw or trace on the design you need, use a box cutter to cut the shape out, then take a piece of Scotch Tape, double the top part of it to stick it together, and stick the two separate ends at the bottom to the styrofoam to make a "handle". if this makes no sense, email me and I will take a photo of one and send it to you for explanation.

The styrofoam can also be used for oil paints and fabric paints. These just make great disposable palettes, and I always have a few laying around, waiting to be used. When it comes to organizing my beloved paints (oils and acrylics), I go all out! Read on for what I have found to work better than anything else...


Organizing Paints and Art Tools, Etc.

Sold as a fishing tackle box, the adjustable drawers made it perfect for an art organizer, plus it was cheaper!
Sold as a fishing tackle box, the adjustable drawers made it perfect for an art organizer, plus it was cheaper!
Heavy duty, with plenty of room, adjustable pull-out drawers, and a great price!
Heavy duty, with plenty of room, adjustable pull-out drawers, and a great price!
Drawers slide completely out, making it easy to get to your things
Drawers slide completely out, making it easy to get to your things
Some are 3 drawer, some have 4 drawers.
Some are 3 drawer, some have 4 drawers.
A red self-contained shelf takes up little room, but holds a ton of items for jewelry making! White 3-drawer shelves on top hold art pens, pencils and markers.
A red self-contained shelf takes up little room, but holds a ton of items for jewelry making! White 3-drawer shelves on top hold art pens, pencils and markers.

Organizing Your Paints and Other Art Items

If you are working in a small space like I am, (a guest bedroom) you have to get creative with storage. I have found that the 6 drawer, self-contained, plastic storage bins are fantastic for holding any jewelry making tools and pliers, beads, findings, etc. Just about anything to do with jewelry goes in the red, 6 drawer cabinet. All of my patterns go into a separate file folder, alphabetically, unless they are too large. Then they go in a large lidded tote. Every tote and box is labeled.

The white, three drawer, stackable storage bins are what hold my art pens, pencils, markers, rulers, erasers, pastels, watercolors, and anything to do with sketching and drawing. The separate, lidded totes hold all of my acrylic and fabric paints and mediums, keeping them separate from my oil paints. This way, I can just grab what I need for any project.

All of my canvases, papers and larger flat items are kept under my guest bed. These can be slipped into a large trash bag to protect if needed, or into a larger lidded tote. This helps to both protect them and keep them all together.

Now that I have covered all of my supplies and how to store them in an organized way, I can just walk in the bedroom, grab what I need and go right to work! I keep a running list of any ideas, notations, custom work and any other notes about my art in a spiral notebook designated just for that. Keeping my supplies organized and neat leaves me with nothing to worry about except creating! I have found that I get a lot more accomplished just because I have my things easy to get to. Plus, I can immediately tell what supplies I need to buy and what I have duplicates of. It not only helps to keep me sane, but it saves me money on duplicate supplies as well! For me, staying organized is part of the creative process. I used to have everything scattered around, and didn't get nearly as much work done.

Get Busy Creating!

Now that everything is all together, all you have to do is decide what you want to work on. The only problem I have had with this system is I sometimes get lazy about putting items back where they belong. Sometimes I have to stop and reorganize things and put them back, just so nothing gets lost! So far, I haven't lost anything in the process, and creating comes a lot easier to me now. That is the best benefit-without having to worry about finding certain supplies, I can just think about the project, and get started immediately. I really hope these ideas help you to get your things all together-I think you will be glad you did!

Plastic Storage Cabinets w Drayers!

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Comments 6 comments

Leandraluv profile image

Leandraluv 6 years ago from Macae, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

OMG I do the same thing. I use empty glass jar bottles to store my paint brushes and to hold water to mix wash my brushes while I am painting and I use the same styrofoam thingys as palettes :-) Cool! I am new to painting though - trying to pick up a new hobby. Nice hub. I love your introduction paragraph.


Laura Thykeson profile image

Laura Thykeson 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Leandraluv,

Thanks for stopping by and reading! I think that the more we can recycle, the better we are! Kind of like "killing two birds with one stone..." Thanks again, and I intend to come check out your hubs!


Leandraluv profile image

Leandraluv 6 years ago from Macae, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hey Laura you are so right! The more we can recycle the better. I do that a lot around the house but you know what, it did not occur to me that I was recycling :-) And I studied environment in University! Imagine that! I like how you phrased it. I look forward to you checking out my hubs. Hope you enjoy!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I also reuse any plastic container. With my gardening I use it for growing seedling and then a saucers. Thank you for the fishing tackle box tip. Great idea.


Laura Thykeson profile image

Laura Thykeson 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hello,hello,

I use plastic for gardening and house plants also! I really hate to throw away anything that I might could use to organize with...

Thanks for coming by and commenting!

Laura T.


markomitic profile image

markomitic 5 years ago from Toronto

Great tips. I thought that I know everything. I am an artist myself. Time to organize a little bit. Thank you.

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