Art Studio Clean-up and Re-Organization

This Article written by Artist Lorraine Catania of Santa Cruz

Recently I walked into my studio and I bet you know what I saw!  Old frames tucked away in every corner, stacks of plein air paintings that I never transformed into a larger format,  incomplete paintings,  failed paintings  (yes it’s true, we all have failed paintings), and all those empty tubes of paint that I was going to give one last squeeze.  Coming back to This studio in the new year was not an option.  It was time to get it together and do an art studio clean up.  I felt a spurt of energy and got to it.   

I decided that I needed to plan for the New Year.  I began by organizing and cleaning out my art supplies.  I got rid of everything that I wasn’t going to use in the New Year. Then I took inventory of what was left and decided what I needed to replenish.

  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1. Donate all those old frames. (Good Will, Salvation Army, etc.)  Offer them to your fellow artists.(Suddenly you have more room in your studio).

2.  Sort your plein air and studio paintings. Divide into 3 stacks:

a. Those you want to retain

b. Those that you want to discard entirely

c. Those that you want to reclaim for future use

While sorting, show no mercy. If you have any doubt about keeping the painting, get rid of it or reclaim it.

(If you reclaim old paintings be sure to sand and use an approved gesso.  I use an oil based gesso made by Daniel Smith.)


3. Get rid of those failed paintings.  If you trash them, be sure to destroy the canvas or gesso over a panel.  You don’t want your failed paintings to show up as an art display on the fence of a waste disposal site.

4. Go through all your paints.  Correctly dispose of all dried out tubes of paint.  Get rid of all those exotic colors that aren’t on your standard palette.  Make sure you have an adequate supply of those colors that you do use on a regular basis.  Nothing upsets me more than running out of a color when I need it.

5. Make a plan for the upcoming year. 

  • Decide on painting sites.
  • what exhibits do you want to enter?
  • What art organizations do you want to join?
  • Do you want to paint small or large?
  • What workshops do you want to take?
  • What new materials do you want to obtain?
  • How will you manage your time? How will you divide it between creating, updating your website, marketing strategies, exhibitions.  I suggest you make a quarterly plan.

6. Sort through your reference material.  I take a lot of photos when I’m on site and later paint using those photos as a reference for larger paintings.  Make a plan for the upcoming months and file away the material that you will not be using for the first three months of the new year. 

7. Investigate marketing strategies. Do some research on the internet, talk to other artists.

8. Read those art books that you bought last year but never got around to even opening.

Whew!  I’m tired just writing about it.  But it’s worth it.  When I go back into my studio at the beginning of the New Year,  I’ll be ready to paint that elusive masterpiece.

Happy Painting!!

Lorraine Catania

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