There’s a lot of different things you can do to improve painting and hobby motivation. Today I wanted to talk about what I feel is the #1 thing you can do, and that’s to setup a dedicated hobby space.
Having to constantly take the time to pull out all your supplies whenever you get a free 15 minutes to paint can really hamper your desire to paint at all. This works if you’ve got an effective setup that just takes a few minutes every time, but if it takes 5-10 minutes to get everything you need, then you’re just not going to bother.
With a dedicated setup you can sit down, paint for the short time you may have, and walk away after; there’s no barrier. This was a game changer for me.
You don’t need to set aside an hour or two to make the most out of a painting session, or putting together some models. Everything is there and waiting for you, even if that’s only for the 5 minutes you have, which is how a lot of us manage painting at all – using those precious free moments we can find.
Use the Space You Have
I have seen some very impressive hobby space setups, like an entire room dedicated to nothing but the hobby. Most of us though do not have that luxury and we have to make due with a much smaller space.
When I first began painting I just left my stuff out on my dinning room table. I was able to do that because I have no children and my cat was well behaved and never bothered anything. A lot of you reading this probably can’t get away with that.
Eventually I built a small portable hobby “desk”. Basically, it was a thin piece of MDF (1/4″) with a box on the back that I put my paints, brushes, and other supplies in. That let me move my stuff off the table when it didn’t need to be there but keep all my supplies together.
If you aren’t much of a woodworker, then you can still easily get away with a flat surface that you can move around. You could even use a food tray. Of course you need somewhere to put it when it’s not in use and that can be tricky.
Kamui (fellow author) did an article a while ago showing the setup he uses for a modular painting setup. He has kids and pets, so he can’t leave his stuff out like I do.
Cadian Shock also has a good article where he shows you his setup and storage for exactly this. He also has another article about using an ice cream tub for some storage as well.
Check those out and you can get some ideas of some very simple ways to easily setup and take down your hobby space setups.
Organization is Crucial
This is something that took me a while to get to – organization.
When you have a space setup for painting, or hobby work in general, you need to be able to quickly and easily get to the tools you need. Spending time tracking down common supplies you need is frustrating and not a big motivator.
Getting some painting racks was the best thing I did for organization. Prior to that, I just had my paints on my painting table. There was no sense of organization at all. They just ended up where I left them.
I would literally spend minutes trying to find a particular color and that aggravated me. Honestly, there were times when I just ave up and walked away because I couldn’t find something.
I picked up some acrylic nail polish holders off Amazon and it was a godsend. My paints were all neatly lined up, I organized them by color, and I no longer had to hunt for the paints I needed.
I won’t spend too much time talking about this particular paint rack since you can find a full review on my other site, Miniature Storage. This rack holds GW paint pots and dropper bottles. I love it.
While that paint rack doesn’t take up a ton of space, it does take up space. Another option I found was a Lazy Susan style paint rack. It has a smaller footprint and still holds a fair amount of paints. I also did a full review of this as well.
Lastly, on that same site I also have an article that covers a wide range of paint rack holders. You’ll find some impressive looking options and also some smaller, cheaper ones as well. You should be able to find something for any setup you need.
The point is to get your paint organized so you can focus on painting and not finding the paints you need while you’re engulfed in what you’re doing.
The same is true for brush holders as it is for paints – keep’em organized!
Fortunately, brush holders are easy to come by in the form of coffee cups or any general vertical holder.
I have my brushes organized into 3 different brush holders.
- My best brushes, which are also my most expensive brushes.
- The OK brushes that are good for base coating and basic layering.
- The crap brushes that I only use for the most damaging tasks like dry brushing. Basically, all the worn out ones.
I used to put all my brushes into the same holder, which was a coffee cup. I realized, same as the paints, that it was just annoying to sort through 30+ brushes to find the one I needed.
Again, you can use anything for this task, but I do have an article on my other blog that covers a lot of paint brush holder options if coffee mugs aren’t for you.
Do whatever works for you.
General Hobby Storage
I have a small cabinet beside my painting desk that has pull out drawers. That’s where I store all the stuff that I don’t need all the time, like a ruler, sprue snippers, spare hobby knife blades, etc. My wife found it at a yard sale and I haven’t seen anything like it online unfortunately.
If you’ve got a more modular setup, then you could pick up a cheap plastic toolbox to do the same thing. If it isn’t needed all the time, then keep it off your painting area to keep things clear and organized.
Whatever it is, try to find some way to store your tools.
With any painting setup you have, you’re going to want a good light.
If you have a dedicated space, then I highly recommend articulating lighting that clamps on to your desk. I have a light that I use now that does that, but unfortunately it’s no longer made. However, there are some very close options you can find on Amazon.
A light like that is great for giving a large area overhead coverage. If you find with one with a built in magnifying glass, then all the better.
The articulation is something I had not thought about when I bought mine but I love the feature. Being able to reach up and move the light exactly where I need it is invaluable. Having the light clamp to the side of my desk means I never have to worry about where it is in relation to my work; I can’t knock it over and it’s never taking up space!
For a portable setup you can find some great options too. I have not used them, but Ottlite is a highly recommended portable light I’ve heard a lot of great things about. You could use it as a dedicated light on your hobby desk too if you prefer that route.
No matter which way you go, be sure to spend some money on your lighting. Having a good light to work with not only puts less strain on your eyes, but it also lets you see the colors you’re painting accurately, unlike incandecent bulbs.
Make Your Space Your Own
Whatever space you’re working with, have fun with it and make it your own space. That could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people but I’ll show you my space.
Other than noting the organization things I mentioned, though the top of that left cabinet is currently a mess, notice all the “fun” things I’ve done.
I have stickers everywhere. EVERYWHERE! It started by some fellow bloggers and painters sending me some for their blog or their painting service. I then just started collecting stickers from anything and slapping them in any space they’d fit.
I’ve also got a Bob Ross Funko sitting in my paint rack. He observes my work and keeps me motivated.
On my painting light I’ve got a Black Panther toy hanging from a cord and a Bob Ross key chain toy that says classic Bob Ross phrases. Yes, I love Bob Ross. I’ve written about him as my inspiration here and also as a guest article talking about what he taught me about miniature painting.
Oh, that white shelf you see to the right is my photography setup. I’ve talked about that before.
The point is to make your hobby space be a place you want to spend time. The little silly things I’ve done make me feel creative and inspired when I sit down to work on something and that’s the goal. I feel comfortable in this space and it’s my space.
Keep it Cleaned
A quick note about keeping your hobby space cleaned up. When I’m working on something my desk is usually utter chaos. I’m not good about putting things back after I use them.
However, once a project is done I will put everything back where it belongs. Not only does this keep me organized, it prepares me for the next project. I have a blank slate to work from and I’m able to focus on what’s new.
Keeping things organized doesn’t come natural to me; it’s work. But it’s work worth doing as a reset to get ready for what’s next.
Having a space you use just for painting and hobby work will really make a difference on your motivation to do it. Again, if you can’t have a dedicated space, then having something you can quickly pull out and use will achieve the same thing.
Some times I just sit at my painting desk and think about hobby stuff. I’ll pull out some paints to get ideas for a project, write in my painting recipe journal, or just sit there to come up with ideas for things to work on. Having that space not only keeps me organized and on task, it fuels my passion and helps promote my creativity.
You don’t need an entire room for the hobby. Heck, you don’t need an entire table either. Make due with what you’ve got, even if that’s a small 1 ft. by 1ft. area. Make the most of that space and let it be where you go to get creative.
Maybe getting a dedicated space isn’t in the cards for you at this time. That’s fine. Don’t let it stop you from planning out the perfect space though. Come up with ideas and find the perfect products to make that a reality. Let it be your goal and motivate you.
If you’re interested in more tips for painting and hobby motivation, then check out the great article that Jack wrote.
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