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Organizing and Storing Art Supplies

Updated on February 17, 2019
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Simple but effective ideas to hang paints
Simple but effective ideas to hang paints | Source

Organizing Your Art Supplies

If your art supplies are a jumbled mess, you are in the right place. Keeping our art supplies in good shape is really important. After all, you make an investment in your supplies. so why not protect the money that you have spent?

There are rewards to getting your art supplies organized and decluttered:

  1. You will be able to find things when you need them. How frustrating is it to look for that one brush or that one color of paint that you know you have somewhere. If only you knew where !
  2. You will actually have space for the things that you actually do use !
  3. Your supplies will be in good shape when you go to use them.
  4. You might find some space for the things that you would like to add to your supplies,
  5. You will be organized and have more time to do the things that you love and enjoy,

Before you get started empty some floor space, a table or a bed. You are going to need a place where you can work ~You need a place where if you are not able to finish the project in one day, the materials and supplies will not get moved or messed with vy animal, child or husband.

Start By Getting Organized

This is the easiest part of this project !

So grab something to drink, turn on some favorite music and let's get started.

  • The first step is to get like things together. Lay all your painting , brushes and supplies out where you can see them. Get them from every nook and cranny so that you know what you are dealing with. Bring out every container, every pencil and every brush no matter where they are. You might just be surprised how much you actually have !
  • Sort all kinds of like items together. You might start out by piling all your brushes together. Then separate them further by media. You might have oil brushes, watercolor brushes, acrylic brushes ect. Put all your palette knoves together. Put all like paints together.
  • Keep duplicates together. You might find that you have duplicate bottles of acrylic paint. This is important to the next step.

If that is all that you can do in one sitting, pat yourself on the back for a job well done and start fresh the next day. It is ok to take it in small bites !

Discarding Supplies

I know that if you are a hoarder like me, this step may be painful. But once you get it done, I promise that the reward is more time and less frustration;

I have recently done this myself and once I finished it, I felt a sense of relief and accomplishment.

Carefully, look at each item and ask yourself:

  • Will I use this item anywhere in the bear future?
  • Does this item provide any real use to me? Or am I just holding onto it for no reason?
  • Is the item in usable condition?
  • Will I keep working in this media in the near future?
  • Do I have the right amount of this item to be used or is it a duplicate?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, keep it, otherwise discard it. For example, I inherited some oil colors from my Dad that I was only keeping for sentimental reasons. It simply was not my media and more than likely never was going to be. After several years I knew it was time to retire those paints. Many of them had gone dry. So off they went to my discard pile !

Open each bottle to make sure that your paints are not fry and in good use. Check the watercolors. Really give those brushes the once over ! You get the idea!

By now you should have two piles. One is I am keeping it and the other, I am getting rid of it !

Here are my art supplies spread out and ready to organize
Here are my art supplies spread out and ready to organize

Find New Homes For Them

The things that you have placed in your discard pile are now ready to be sorted. Finding new homes for some of these things might be easier than you think.

Sell Them- If some of the things that you have are new or almost new, then sell them. There are plenty of places online where you could market them. Try selling them locally first. Then research where on line might be your next best bet. Be honest about the description of your items and do not over price them.

Donate Them-Offer them to your friends and neighbors if they share your interests. Places like nursing homes, schools and kids organizations are always looking for donations of art supplies. Thrift shops are always looking for donations too.

Make An Art Box- Keep an art box with some paper, used brushes and paints for your kids and grand kids.

Throw Them Away-Find out the rules in your community for discarding art supplies !

As you are getting rid of things, make a note of the things that you might have to replace. Make a shopping list if you need to that you can post on a bulletin board or somewhere where it is visible.

Do you have limited supplies or space? An art tote may be just the thing for your art supplies. Get more organization tips for small spaces
Do you have limited supplies or space? An art tote may be just the thing for your art supplies. Get more organization tips for small spaces | Source

Remember that any unused paint thinner, solvents and mineral spirits are considered hazardous waste and should not be poured down the drain.

Paints (oil based and water based) contain oils, heavy metals or preservatives

other materials like rinse water, or Full or partly full aerosol cans contain substances that are hazardous and must NOT go in any landfill, recycling, or composting bin

Organize It By Category

Now that you know what is good and what is not, the rest comes a lot easier.

The steps are easy to think about. Once you get started it moves quickly !

  1. Consider the way that you had your supplies stored before. Did it work for you? If not, it is time to consider some new storage solutions.
  2. Look at the space that you have available to store your art supplies. Consider any changes that you may want to make.
  3. When possible, zone your supplies. For example, consider storing all your water color supplies together, your acrylic supplies together, ect. If you only work with one media, that makes it easier. But for me, I find that zoning my supplies means that everything I need is at my finger tips when I need them.
  4. Look around your house for containers that you may already own. Grab plastic containers, boxes, and all manner of container. Be creative !

You can store your paints in this wall hanging project. Complete tutorial available
You can store your paints in this wall hanging project. Complete tutorial available | Source

Create An Art Cart

A rolling two or three layered shelf cart is a perfect solution for anyone who wants to keep their supplies close to their work space. You can organize it any way that is workable for you.You can keep it out or roll it into a closet.

A second alternative to a cart idea is to have a rolling unit that has drawers. These units come either with three deeper drawers or four thinner drawers.

You can usually find these units online or in your local discount store.

Designate A Space For It

Now you are ready to take it to the last step ! Designate a spot for it. You have done all the work ! You have considered what can be used, you have gotten rid of what cannot be used, you have considered your space, and you have decided the right system for your art supplies. Put it away and celebrate ! You have accomplished a great deal !

Use Jars To Hold Your Supplies

Clear plastic and glass jars and containers can hold all kinds of supplies ! Be Creative ! These containers come in all kinds of sizes and groupings, You can see what you need at a glance !

Cleaning Your Brushes Is Important, Right?

While I was doing this organization project, I realized that some of my brushes were stiff and others needed to be cleaned.

Not all the brushes were in the best shape, so I decided to get started by giving them all a good cleaning. My original instinct was to let them soak, bristle side down in some warm water and soap, wrong.

The first thing that I learned was to never soak a art or craft brush with the bristle side down.

So my first adventure into the painting world was with acrylics. As I got into learning some techniques, I learned that acrylic paint dries quickly on the canvas. I was enjoying myself and wasn't thinking as I was working that as I grabbed another brush to continue , the paint was drying on the first brush. lesson learned.

Letting acrylic paint dry on a brush will mean that you will need to replace them a lot sooner. Note to self, stop and clean brushes !

Your local thrift store or dollar store is a perfect place to shop for organizers for your paints and brushes.

A simple dollar store vase and some beans, make a wonderful paint brush holder.
A simple dollar store vase and some beans, make a wonderful paint brush holder.

How Do You Store Your Art And Craft Brushes?

I have always been a crafter, so paint brushes have always been part of my craft room. About a year ago, I inherited some acrylic paints and some brushes from my Dad. They sat around until recently when I decided to get them out and start dabbling in acrylic paints. Some if the brushes were not in the best shape, but I was eager to get started. As a beginner painter, I have lots and lots to learn. So the first thing I began with was organizing the supplies I had a deciding what to do with them.

I got out all the brushes and stuck them into a container that I had in my craft room, but wondered what was the best way to care for them as I got started in my painting adventure.

There are plenty of brush organizers that you can purchase online and in stores. The options are as endless, Look to specialty online locations and search to see what options are right for you.

More Brush Storage Ideas

Coffee Mugs

Cosmetic Organizers



Multi drawer plastic storage units

Paint brush rolls

Dollar store flower containers

Tin cans painted or covered with paper


Brushes should be stored vertically with bristles up, but the heads should not be touching one another. That way, you will not deform the bristles. Your brushes will always be as good as new

Paint drawers with a dab of paint shows you where to find the color you need
Paint drawers with a dab of paint shows you where to find the color you need

Storing Acrylic Paints

Everyone has different ideas how to store those plastic acrylic paint bottles, There are as many ideas as their are colors of paints. Choosing the right system depends on the amount of containers of paints that you have and the amount of space you have to store them. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Some folks feel that the only way to store acrylic paints is to store them upside down. The point of storing them upside down is that the pigment will not settle to the bottom off the container. That makes it easier to use. You will not spend a lot of time shaking the bottle.Baskets, shoe boxes or plastic containers work best. Group color groups together Put a little dab of paint of the bottom of the container so that you can see what color you have. You can also use a clear shoe holder that will fit over the door.
  • Another way to store them is to use a multi leveled spinning rack or a lazy susan. If you have desk space, this puts your paints clearly in your view.
  • You can glue pieces of PVC pipe stacked on top of one and other to store your paints vertically.
  • A Keurig cup carousel. also will hold plastic containers of acrylic paint.
  • Hanging spice racks can be hung just about anywhere. Just paint them and hang them. They may hold up to 20 containers.

Zone Your Space

Remember that zoning your space is worth the time and effort !

Keep all your brushes, paints. canvases and mediums in one area of your craft space so that you can find what you need with less trouble and time

How To Organize Pencils, Markers And Pens

The first thing to consider in organizing these categories is how often do you use them. Do you use them every day, once a week or less often?

You can organize them my categories:

  • Colored Pencils
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Graphite pencils and drawing pencils
  • Markers
  • Alcohol markers
  • Illustrator markers
  • Crayons

Next you can also organize them by color, type of product or manufacturer. It is strictly up to you and your needs

Here is an idea for markers that actually uses a ceiling tile in a unique way !
Here is an idea for markers that actually uses a ceiling tile in a unique way ! | Source

More Solutions For Markers, Pens And Pencils

Here are some more ideas for storing your pencils, pens and markers:

  1. Store upright in jars (except for markers)
  2. Keep them in the cases they came in in drawers
  3. Pen holders and caddies
  4. Photo storage boxes or clear containers
  5. Revolving kitchen organizers or pen caddies
  6. In containers on a lazy susan
  7. Mugs or decorated tin cans
  8. Tackle boxes
  9. Silverware drawer organizers in a plastic drawer cabinet
  10. Pencil boxes

Pencils can be stored upright in a container, but most markers should be stored horizontally. Markers could be stored in jars or cans horizontally on wine racks.

Art binders are another solution for all those stray pieces. It is a perfect solution for markers, pens, pencils and odds and ends. Learn how to create your own art bunder.
Art binders are another solution for all those stray pieces. It is a perfect solution for markers, pens, pencils and odds and ends. Learn how to create your own art bunder. | Source

Final Thought

There is no one solution to store your paints and brushes. The organization and storage of your paint supplies depends on the amount of supplies that you have. And the amount of storage space you have. The right system is the one that works for you.

© 2019 Linda F Correa

Weigh In On Organizing And Storing Art Supplies

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    • linfcor profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda F Correa 

      17 months ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Thank you ! Not my original idea, but I am planning to make one this week.

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Hart 

      17 months ago from Lanarkshire

      What a great hub! I love the idea of hanging the paints- I would never have thought of it myself.


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