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Peony and Parakeet

Organizing Art Supplies with Konmari Method

Flying with Balloons, an art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

This art journal page is about how less stuff can uplift us. I feel like a bird with balloons after I sorted out my art and papercrafting supplies.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It all started from a book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is written by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo and she calls her method “Konmari”, which is an abbreviation of her name.

Marie Kondo, Konmari, decluttering book, sweaters on a shelf

The Konmari method is fairly simple. First you get rid of all the stuff you don’t use or enjoy, and then you store them by type. The process is explained more in detail in the book. The book recommends starting with clothes so I organized my sweaters first. Most of them are my own handknits. Marie Kondo explains how to fold each type of clothing and recommends storing things so that you can see them in a row. I have always believed in little joys in life. However I had never thought of how much joy seeing those sweaters can bring.  Each time I open the closet, it joyfully reminds me how much I enjoy both knitting and colors!

Art Supplies that Spark Joy

Marie Kondo believes in handling each object separately and considering if it sparks joy. These spark most joy to me: colored pencils and watercolors! These most simple art supplies delight me more than any new product on the market.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet with an art journal spread colored with colored pencils

If you have followed this blog for a longer time, you might have noticed that the variety of mediums that I use in my art has been reduced gradually, especially during the last year. I noticed that I had bought many of the products believing they would solve my creative problems. I thought they would make me create better art faster and make creating more fun. But when experimenting with new products I forgot how little ingredients are actually needed for creating meaningful art. Nowadays I feel sad when I see beginners reading instructions that involve a huge variety of art supplies. The long lists of supplies are overwhelming and prevent many from start creating.

I believe we should focus less on things and more in our inner world. And Marie Kondo thinks exactly the same! She believes that when we are surrounded by fewer things, we can treat them better and start thinking what we really want to do in life. I believe that when you use fewer supplies, a lot of energy is saved from picking and choosing for the actual creating. You will also grow attached to the supplies and start displaying them and taking care of them more often.

Working Area Before and After

Even if I organize my creative space regularly, I felt it was the time for a bigger change. I had already started re-organizing my creative space before reading Marie Kondo’s book, so it felt natural to continue that process.

Creative Space before and after, Konmari method, Marie Kondo

The photo on the left has been taken some time ago. After that I had already cleared the view to the window. But I had not actually got rid of anything, I had just removed some of the stuff to the nearest shelf unit. This time I picked out every single object and decided to give away or throw away those that I had not used for a long time. The photo on the right shows how the table looks like now!

Konmari Method Applied to Art Supplies

Marie Kondo suggests not to put items on the top of each other. That is quite difficult to achieve with art supplies. I managed pretty well though. Jars and boxes help with that.

Art supplies organized with Konmari method

My creative space also includes shelves. Here organizing was a bit more challenging and the end result might not be how Marie Kondo had done it. She would probably group all the paper booklets, albums, and magazines together. However, I quite like it as there’s enough logic in how everything is located. As one of my hobbies is scrapbooking I have a large collection of stamps. I was able to put them all in one place on the upmost shelf.

Art supplies organized with Konmari method

Marie Kondo believes that we should take time to consider which is the best way for storing each item. I found that odd bottles of ink are much happier in spray bottles with other liquid inks. Paints are now in boxes on the right side of the middle shelf. I love how easily accessible all the supplies are and how my art journals and inspiring magazines fitted there too.

How to Prevent Decluttering?

According to Konmari method the secret of staying organized is this: once you have dramatically reduced the amount of stuff  and organized by type, you will consider buying new things much more carefully. When you group items by type, you will remember what you already have. When I saw what I had bought during the years, I thought that many times I could have just left the store early and put the time in creating. Focusing on fewer art supplies has reduced my yearn for shopping, so I do believe what Marie writes about.

Make your colored pencils spark joy!
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37 thoughts on “Organizing Art Supplies with Konmari Method

  1. Minäkin olen lukenut tuon kirjan! Osaksi sen vaikutuksesta kävin läpi lankojani ja askartelutarvikkeita, joita koetan myydä ensi lauantaina Siivouspäivänä:-)

    1. Mietin juuri itse siivotessani, että onkohan Suomessa konmari-buumi ja näkyyköhän se kirppareilla! — Thought about whether Konmari method is starting to show in Finnish flea markets!

  2. Very inspiring. I am on a similar mission and have purged my supplies drastically. Watercolor pencils are my favorite so as my markers dry up I do not replace them, I use them so rarely that I should just donate them to someone who would use them. After looking at your lovely organized space, I am even more motivated to continue my quest.

    1. Shirley, great to hear that this post increased your motivation! I realized that I had planned on using something for years like old buttons for scrapbooking embellishments but had not actually done that. Now when I sorted out my buttons I realized that only certain kind of buttons are suitable for that and I do not have those as many as I thought. I also thought that I would use certain supplies less when they are not on the table but actually, I have used them much more now when I remember what I have.

  3. I just have way to many things I enjoy doing – keep changing what I’m interested in and I don’t mind the clutter until I have company. Then I pack it all up and clean only to unpack and clutter as soon as company leaves. Crazy! I would go nuts in a perfectly ordered home, although it would be fun and easy to clean. I just wouldn’t be comfortable. I would just work at keeping it clean and enjoying that instead of playing with art stuff and living cluttered but happy. I do know where everything is and know that if I see it out, I will use it. If I put it away then is is out of my mind and never used. I read somewhere years ago that the world has two kinds of people: pile makers, and file makers. I am definitely a pile (clutter) maker. But I have to hide this terrible condition since it isn’t acceptable to others – thats OK since when I hide stuff, I clean up and get ready to unhide it and see what I can create next. LOL

    1. Mary, I love this “pile makers and file makers” division! I am certainly a “file maker”! I also found your comment about organized home most interesting. It made me think why I love organizing and order so much. I think the reason is that my mother kept everything very organized. My childhood home was tidy and super uncluttered. That has strongly affected where I feel home. I love strong colors and patterns unlike many Finnish but I also like home to feel spacious. Having said that, I admire homes that have a relaxed country style look and feel but my home will probably never be like that!

  4. Oh Mary — Everything you said, except I am a pile maker AND a file maker! Currently getting ready for company, I need to consolidate [and hide] a half dozen “in-progress” projects– which is lots of work. As you say, if they stay put away, I’ll forget about them (and start another half dozen new ones which will generate whole new piles of clutter). LOL sorta!

    Paivi — You offer wise counsel. I will keep your approach in mind, and try to thin out supplies and stamps. As you say, some bring much more joy than others. Having just recently discovered you, I now have a whole new use for my colored pencils. I am also working on creating art papers–although my inner critic finds my wild doodles not nearly as “artistic” as yours. I do love your videos about how your journal pages come to be. Many thanks from Ohio.

    1. CinCin, thanks! It really made me happy to read that you have started to use colored pencils! I think that everybody should have a jar of colored pencils on the table!

      The greatest wisdom here should probably be: whether you are a pile maker or a file maker, take care that those piles or files bring you joy!

    2. CinCin it does sound like you are a maker of both files and piles. I once tried the files but ended up with piles of files. Sort of like Dr. Seuss! We could probably get together and give a lot of almost done projects to some nursing home or kids hospital for others to finish and enjoy. But the minute I take one out to give – a new idea comes to finish it differently. And besides, we may decide to get each others projects to work on ourselves. I think it is a curse LOL. But one I enjoy so much – the process more than the product.

  5. I, too, have begun the process of de-cluttering thanks to the book you cited. It is quite freeing. Quite liberating. My mind even feels less cluttered. Thanks for sharing this. I hope it makes a difference in someone else’s life.

    1. Gale, I loved your comments. “I hope it makes a difference in someone else’s life.” was so thoughtful and caring. And, Paivi’s post hit me hard…I’m going to buy the book and hopefully it will motivate me to purge. so, it did make a difference in someone else’s life…MINE! 🙂

  6. Your post is just right for what I have been struggling with for some time. Like so many others I have indulged myself in whatever my current artsy path has been. I grow into something new and different but still have all that I have accumulated and have trouble shedding! What sparks joy rings for me. I was meant to come and have a read today.

    1. Sandi, I think that many art supplies can bring joy to others. In Finland many towns have recycling centers where people can donate their extra stuff. There’s a big one not far away from my home and it has a department for art and craft supplies.

      For me one of the greatest benefits of decluttering has been that I can now see a lot of art supplies that bring joy at one glance. It is an empowering sight!

  7. Pavi, About two years ago i discovered Kondo online and decided to give away most of my fabric as I will not make clothes or art with it due to problems when I hand sew or do free motion work. It was liberating. Now I need to do the same with bead making supplies. Further reduce the fabric stash (oh yes kept all the cat fabric) and the threads and ribbons. There is also three drawers of thread for embroidery. You have given me courage. Now what about all the clothes I made and kept. I made art type clothes to wear at work but in retirement i wear T Shirts, jeans/pants in the winter; shorts in the summer.
    Tidying is another subject. Love to have all my art supplies out. I am like Mary W except i have my own room and just close the door to visitors. And now i must write about my desk for a blog where we all show our mess or tidy at What’s On your Workspace Wednesday. A little trip around the world of crafty desks!

    1. Monica, I admire your analytic attitude! I think that focus is the word here – giving up stuff that we don’t do anymore releases energy for the things that we are currently excited of.

  8. I have seen several people refer to this book and I am intrigued. I have “too much stuff” syndrome. Or as I call it – exploding art studio. I would love to pare down significantly but…
    Ack! What would I get rid of? No, I need that. No, I might need that. You get the picture.
    I am however enjoying seeing your lovely room all orderly and decluttered. Love your sweaters all rolled up.

    1. Sandi, the book might be helpful for you, it is very easy to read! I decided that if I had not used an art supply for years even if it had been accessible all that time, I won’t miss it if I give it away.

  9. I have just started reading this book and am impressed. I have way too many art supplies – love what you have done. Great post!

  10. I checked our libraries for the book and there is such a long waiting list that I will be buying the book. Thank you Paivi for sharing this with us.

    1. Jan, same here in Finland! I reserved the book at the local library and I was 700th in the waiting list. So I bought it.

  11. What a wonderful thing you’ve done for yourself. I’m in the process. Most of my studio is now cleared up. Thanks for this encouraging post

  12. I spent so many years having to try every new art and hobby supply that my husband bought me a storage shed. It is very well organized except most of it I am no longer interested in. Part of this could be advanced age and the rest of it a return to what is my first love, watercolor, requiring only one small box of paints and a few brushes. My second love, the wonderful graphite pencil, ink and colored pencils. I have avoided emptying that shed which the family has come to call The Chocolate Factory but Paivi’s article has encouraged me.

  13. Good morning Paivi and all! I too totally enjoyed this post and picked up the book on my kindle (didn’t want to make any more clutter by having a hard copy! LOL) I’ve been on a mission to declutter and downsize so I can move to a smaller house. I was doing it by room and yesterday went straight to my clothing and went through all my shirts. OH! I love my new drawer! It is so colorful and lifted my spirits giving me hope. My art room looks like a bomb went off in it and there’s no room to work. I feel I must do a few things to give me confidence before I tackle this room.
    Thank you so very much for sharing your art and your thoughts with us!

    1. Jeri, great to hear that you got inspired! Yes, it’s better to start with simple things and then move to more challenging items.

  14. Loved the previous post on findin your own art style so much, and this one is just as inspiring to me! I wish decluttering would be easier but oh how I love all the materials I “hord”! 🙂

  15. Paivi…I registered for your Inspirational Drawing on-line class and am looking forward to starting on June 1. I find that we will be away from home, without access to computers, for two weeks beginning mid-June. Will I be able to access the class on our return?

    1. Irene, thank you for registering! Yes you will be able to access the class material. The download links will work at least in the end of July, most probably longer. Also the discussion group will be available. The reason why I have set the time limit for the downloadable material is that I don’t want to offer “forever access” for the simple reason that nothing stays “forever”.

  16. Hi Paive,

    I am in the midst of a major overhaul of my supplies and I agree. I spent way to much time over the last year maintaining and purchasing supplies more than actually using them. This is why I am cutting back. I first had to identify what are the things that I love in crafting or making art. After I was able to identify those things, I was able to start cutting back on stuff and I plan to do more. I have more than I need in terms of collage materials and I had organized them, but I am going to go through them again and I’m sure will get rid of 3/4 of my collection. I have been watching videos of minimalism and living with a light load. I think it’s the way to go and gives more room for creativity. Clutter does not help. I also believe in constraints even though I find this very hard to follow. For me this means, not doing too many creative endeavors. In the world of mixed media, we can all get teased into trying everything and I am really trying to define what it is I want to invest my time doing. Thanks for this post. It is great to see your space and I read the book and I am finding it useful. I have a long road ahead, but I am looking forward to it. Thanks again!!

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