It's been a long while since my last post! Oops. Life happened. My 2016 resolutions list includes having a more regular posting schedule, but it's going to be an eventful year, so we'll see! Anyway, I wanted to share a cool studio idea for those of you who have lots of art supplies and are looking for a way to organize them.
Pastel artists tend to accrue large supplies of pastel sticks, because though we can blend and layer colors, we can't really mix our own. (Well, actually, we CAN--but to do it we have to collect pastel dust, mix it with water and mold it into new sticks, which is not something you do often!) As my collection of pastels has grown, I've graduated from boxes to trays, made my own foam palette insert for a pochade box (which I still use for travel), and converted an old kitchen drawer cabinet to pastel storage. But finally, all those luscious colors just wouldn't fit, and I spent several hours researching studio storage boxes and palettes. There are some wonderful boxes made by Dakota Art and Heilman, sturdy and well designed...but they're pricey!
Cleaning out our barn and organizing tools and hardware gave me an idea for studio storage: a rolling tool chest! Luckily for me, my family was looking for Christmas presents AND we have a Harbor Freight store nearby! So thanks to my mom and my uncle, I landed this beauty:
As you can see, it has a top compartment and four drawers, each lined with a sheet of foam. There's a large shelf beneath the drawers, and casters--I love casters!
The top compartment is deep enough for my tempered glass palette, which I keep inside a Masterson stay-wet palette box. So this tray will function as the top surface of my taboret.
My next step was to create a tray and dividers, using cardboard and hot glue, and lining the tray with a foam sheet. I used the foam that came with the tool chest, but you could also use the rolls of drawer liner foam or rubber that you can get at Harbor Freight or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Once the dividers were ready, it was time to sort pastels....
This is the first time I've seen all my pastels arranged together, and it was eye opening! I didn't realize I had so many yellows and greens, or that my darks and violets were sparse. But I think I'm done with purchasing sets at this point, and will fill in the gaps with individual sticks or small single color assortments.
I used the farthest right division of my palette for neutrals--earth tones and grays--but I kept my set of Maggie Price grays by Terry Ludwig in their foam lined box in a separate drawer. There are two reasons for this: first is that they're by far the softest pastels I have, they break easily and rub off on anything that touches them. If I kept them in the drawer with everything else I think they would make a big mess. Also, they're organized really well in their box, by hue and value, which is quite useful. I find them a bit tricky to use, since I would like to use them about halfway through a painting, but they're so soft that it's hard to layer anything on top of them. Anyway, they get to live alone for now, but you can see that the small drawer makes it easy to access them when needed.
Here's the item listing at Harbor Freight, with a link. They actually have a lot of similar cart, table top and cabinet options, and they usually have coupons and discounts available. With a coupon, this cart came in under $100. That's more affordable than most taborets and storage options that are marketed for artists, and a lot less expensive than the specialty studio pastel storage trays! (If you have the budget for the fancy ones, don't let me interrupt your shopping! Give my regards to Dakota and Heilman, and tell them I'll be in touch when I sell my first $1000 painting!) It took about an hour and a half, with my husband's help, and a socket wrench set, to put together. It's quite sturdy, and you can see there's plenty of space for more art supplies! Even another entire large drawer, in case my pastel collection continues to grow....
Happy New Art Year!
Alexia Rosoff Wilber
News and notes about art.