Reader Question: Help for an artist in a small apartment

Reader Heather sends in this question:

I have a one-bedroom apartment that is very full. I’m trying to figure out how I can keep visual reference materials, and how to manage and organize multiple paintings/projects at once. I manage to accumulate many, many, magazine photos and clippings. If I had a bigger space, I could just put them in a filing cabinet. But I don’t think I have enough room for one. And large canvases, etc. can’t go in a filing cabinet. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

Magazine and photo clippings

The best thing to do reduce the physical space of your magazine clippings is to digitize them. Read our article on scanning magazine clippings for some tips on how to do this.

Going forward, just take photos of your paper-based inspirations. A friend of mine takes photos of crafting patterns. She takes a photo of the item then photos of the instructions. To indicate the end of the project, she takes a photo of complete blackness (i.e. she puts her phone flat on the table and takes a photo of the table). This makes it easier to group the photo with the correct instructions on your computer or cloud drive.

Remember that many magazines have digital versions that allow you to save the photos and articles automatically to sites such as Evernote and Pinterest so consider those options as well.

Paintings and canvases

Because you live in a small apartment, take advantage of vertical space. Use the full height of the wall as much as possible.

For painting, consider a wall easel. They can be expensive but require no floor space. This model allows you to pull out the easel base up to a 70° angle to paint, and it has space to attach an easel lamp.

You may wish to install STAS picture rails and sets to many of your walls. They can hold paintings you have finished, those you have partly finished, as well as blank canvases. Because the hooks and holders on the STAS picture rails are easily adjustable, they can accommodate canvases of various sizes allowing you to maximize wall space.

Another option is a photo ledge wall shelf. They may be much sturdier for your canvases but, because they are fixed on the wall, they cannot be adjusted easily. For reference, the Command photo ledge wall shelf holds up to five pounds, requires no tools to install, and does no damage to walls.

In some cases, canvases must lay flat to dry. A folding laundry drying rack will allow you to lay your canvases flat and when they are finished, you can fold up the rack so it won’t take up any space. The drying rack is useful because it can also be used to dry clothes. Although you should cover it with an old sheet before you put paintings on it to keep it clean for your clothes.

A bakeware storage rack is another option for storing canvases. This model is expandable so it can hold several canvases between each set of rods. The rods are only six inches high so that might not be adequate for extra-large canvases. This rack, although not adjustable, has taller dividers and quite large spacing that may be suitable for bigger canvases.

Thanks for your great question Heather. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

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