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"ART ROOM" is no longer a 4-letter word (Major Studio Cleanup!)

Back when I was living with my parents and taking three college art classes a semester—all of them with weekly projects due—my art room (aka my brother’s old bedroom) was a complete shambles!  In fact, “Art Room” was like a four-letter word in my family, something we just didn’t discuss. I was embarrassed and ashamed about the state of my space, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

    My solution: I kept the door closed. 

Since then, I got married, moved, and homeschooled our four kids.  While the rest of the house remains pretty clean and organized,  my art studio has always been the last place to get attention.

It’s a little chaotic.

Actually, it’s a LOT chaotic.

I figured I was destined to be the kind of person who shoves drawings, notes, paint, and brushes and God-knows-what-else in every cabinet and drawer. I’d straighten up a little for Open Studios or after I finished a big project. I have held the belief that “real organization” in the studio was not only impossible—but also kinda scary!

And my solution has STILL been to keep the door closed! (Luckily, the studio is in the basement!) 🙂

So, I made a big decision. I took off the entire month of January and cleared my schedule of everything that didn’t have to do with organizing. I didn’t do any commissions, start new work, post (much) on social media, or go to meetings.

Was I scared?  Yes.

Nervous? Yes.

Excited? Yes!

Here’s the thing: All the times I have tried to do this on my own, it has NEVER worked. I toss out a few things, wipe off a few surfaces, then I get distracted, and start looking at my art books or photos or start a new project. This time, I knew I needed to invest in this process to make it really happen. 

So, I’ve been working the last few weeks with two professional organizers, Devon Burton of ZeroChaos NW  and Erin Oling of Be Oregonized, along with a local high school student. They emptied all my drawers and cupboards and put everything back organized and labeled.  Now I know EXACTLY what I have and where it is. This has allowed me to relax and smile. 🙂 I am so grateful to each of them.

Check out the before and after pictures:

My shelf of art books after reorganizing

Drawers of supplies  Well organized drawers make everything easier to find!

Now that this deep cleaning and organizing is done, I’m very excited to see what happens in my life and art business as a result.

What is possible for me now?

  • Will I be more decisive?
  • Will I unleash a wild, new creativity?
  • Will I work more quickly and efficiently?
  • Will it change the way I teach and work with my clients’ projects?
  • Will it help me shed that old belief that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m faking it in my business?

I don’t know what will happen, but I DO know that I am excited to be getting back to my artwork.

If you’d like to tap into this newfound clarity of mine, I’ve opened up some space to take on a few new commissioned works. Just reply with an email if you’d like to chat about some custom art for your space.

Here’s to more clarity and spaciousness for all of us in 2018! (and a hope that I will put everything away where it is supposed to go.) 🙂


Annie Salness Artist


  1. Jo on January 31, 2018 at 12:57 am

    How brave of you, Annie… and timely. Taking a whole month at the beginning of the year to get all your ducks in a row is super smart. The older I get the more I crave order in my own workspace;whether it’s studio or kitchen I want my tools in the place where I know I can lay hands on them without wasting time searching. That’s what organizing your studio has done for you… opened up time to do what you do best: paint.

    • Annie Salness on February 7, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you, Jo!

  2. Heather on February 2, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Loved reading this. I have recently been approaching my space with the following mindset: If I don’t LOVE it, USE it, or wouldn’t BUY it again today, then it should go. It’s brought me some clarity.

    • Annie Salness on February 7, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Those are some great points!

  3. Patrick Gracewood on February 13, 2018 at 1:06 am

    Annie, thanks for posting this. I’ve been trying to clean, but to seek and get additional help gave you bigger and longer lasting organization. Will look into these folk. Meanwhile, I’m trying to set one small goal and stick to it. x Patrick

    • Annie Salness on February 13, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      I didn’t know what to do, but they came in and whipped it into shape!

  4. Ruth on February 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I am sure photos don’t do justice to how great this looks now! Can’t wait to see it in person!

    • Annie Salness on February 13, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Just the labeling helps so much!

  5. Randall David Tipton on February 13, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I can’t even imagine, I would be afraid of messing it up and would that inhibit me? Congratulations though, seems you did it with intelligence!

    • Annie Salness on February 13, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      After 30+ years, I did it with the intelligent help of Devon and Erin. 🙂 I really am so happy!

  6. Sarah Peroutka on February 15, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Your post inspires me to tackle my own chaotic environment! Bravo!

    • Annie Salness on February 18, 2018 at 2:20 am

      Thank you, Sarah!

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