Oh, Don't You Hand Me None Of Your Lines
On Sept 27, 2022, I drew a silly picture of Usagi Yojimbo & shared it on Twitter. I am writing this on the Sixth Mensiversary of that Usagi drawing. I have posted at least one picture per day, every day, for the last six months. What’s more, I have done it working at my kitchen table in a 400 ft2 apartment occupied by 2 adults with many disparate hobbies. How did I do it? The answer is one word & you’re probably going to hate it: Organization.
No, wait, keep reading! I promise this isn’t going to turn into “8 Simple Ways To Perfectly Organize Everything!” You don’t have to be perfectly organized! You just have to be organized enough, in a way you can keep up with routinely. If you came here for the super secret, that’s it. The rest of this is a tour of my art space & storage so you can see what works for me & maybe for you.
This is where the magic happens?
My desk is also my kitchen table. It is a folding table from Ikea that has a bunch of drawers & is only about 10 inches wide when closed. (Ikea isn’t sponsoring this blog, I just like the table.) This picture shows one wing open, making it two extra feet wider. I can fit my computer, watercolor setup, & tea things but only just barely. If I open up the other side of the table I get another two feet, but that takes up a fair amount of the open floor space in my apartment so I try to avoid doing that. Bonus: It is right next to the fridge, so I can reach the water pitcher without even getting out of my rolling chair. Is there anything better than well–hydrated sloth?
My Watercolor Setup
I forgot to take a new picture of my works in progress, enjoy this blast from the past!
Working in such a small space without constantly sticking your arm in wet paint is an acquired skill. This skill can be enhanced by taping your work to a board & rotating the wet paint out of the way. I am right-handed, so I rotate the board clockwise. I work my way around the board, either starting new paintings or adding details to works in progress. By the time I get back to the painting I started with, it is dry & ready for the next part. If all of my paintings in progress need more drying time, then it’s a good time for me to take a break… or set the watercolors aside & break out my digital drawing tablet! That’s what happened in the picture below, which is why my watercolors are still laid out in the corner of the table!
My Digital Setup
8-Bit butterflies are the bane of my current existence.
I started digital drawing on my Samsung Note8. I became obsessed with the medium almost as quickly as I had with watercolors! The tiny stylus really hurts my hand after a short time drawing, so I had to look into other options. I love my tablet! It runs off my laptop. Even on sale it took my entire art budget for a year & although it means I can’t buy any more paint right now (cough Ko-Fi cough) I don’t regret it one bit! My laptop is elevated on a little platform with my tablet sitting underneath, ready & waiting. Digital art lets me try all manner of things; sometimes I even rough out my paintings there first to avoid wasting paper. I have really gotten into pixel art lately & am designing my own PICO-8 game using my art (check my socials tomorrow for an update!) I never would have done this if I hadn’t gotten a drawing tablet. (Huion isn’t sponsoring this blog, I just like the tablet.)
This is my art shelf. It is below my board game shelf & above my sewing shelf.
It is very important to have a safe place for wet paint. This cabinet is where everything gets stowed. The board with all my paintings is on the top left, where it can dry undisturbed. A few weeks ago I tripped while walking past my desk & spilled tea all over the board, ruining several pieces, so I try to be good about putting the board away where it’s safe! Most of the rest of this shelf is organized into recycled containers. I whole-heartedly recommend raiding your recycling bin for storage containers. I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood full of apartment buildings, so if I can’t find good containers in my building’s recycling I’ll probably find something my neighbor’s! I have pressed countless little jars & plastic trays into service.
Vampires & Sisters, I have a scheme!
This is my planning board, a.k.a. the side of my refrigerator. Please excuse the big red Spoiler Alert box, there are notes & plans for projects I’m not talking about yet hiding there. The holographic Yellow Submarine poster is there for inspiration. The paper towels are there because, again, kitchen, but also because it’s convenient for my watercolors. The calendar is a freebie from the ASPCA that I use just for art reminders, planning out when I’ll finish each painting to make sure I have one per day. As you can see, I revise it a lot! Having all of this right there when I turn my head is amazing. I used to keep a lot of this in a little notebook, but having to haul that out each time I wanted to check something was so slow compared to having it right next to me.
If you had asked me if I could fit this much productivity into such a small place a year ago, I probably would have laughed. I am so happy to be wrong! Would I like more space? Of course. Can I afford more space? Absolutely not! But that’s the cool thing about art- it can be adapted to fit any space & fill any need. Right now most of my paintings are 3 inches tall.If I had more space, could I paint bigger paintings? Sure. Would I? Maybe. But being in a tiny or cramped living space is a reason I see people citing all the time for why they can’t try various forms of art, & I want you to know that art can fit in anywhere!
Thanks to the people who asked me to share my workspace, I love hearing your suggestions for things to write about! I’m going to go paint something. See you on Tuesday!
You can support my work, help me buy art supplies, or suggest something for me to talk about on Ko-Fi
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- All pictures posted in this blog are my own work, unless it is a book cover.
- All book/tutorial/product reviews are my own unpaid & unsolicited opinions.