Classroom Management

How to Create a Paint System That Works for You

Organizing your paint supplies can easily become a headache. How do you decide what stays in a cupboard and what stays out? Where do you keep all your brushes? How do you store paint from one class period to the next? Join my colleague, Emily, and me as we work through these issues and more.

The Problem

My incredible colleague, Emily, had a storage and paint distribution conundrum to solve. Her art room is an old science lab in our district’s freshman building. Emily teaches a few other courses throughout her day, but the room is primarily used for painting. We worked together to tackle the storage for all the painting materials. As an added bonus, we were able to create storage spaces for each student’s work and supplies on a daily basis.

Here is Emily’s space before.

painting storage area before


The Plan

Emily had her plan in mind the second I stepped in the door. You can see her wish list and thought process in the image below. She aspired to create an efficient, student-friendly, and accessible storage system for painting supplies. She also dreamed of storage for her students’ daily materials and projects in progress.


Emily's Plan


The Process

Our first step was to empty all the cupboards and drawers. We tossed and recycled materials as we sorted like items into groups. We did encounter a few oddball items (macramé anyone?), But even they found a home with their fellow quirky supplies.

empty shelves

As we sorted items, it became clear Emily stored her supplies well,  they just needed to be placed together with other similar materials. Consolidating these materials ended up saving and producing a lot of extra space. This space became the permanent storage area for students’ daily supplies and projects.

Our biggest puzzle was how to allow students to save their palettes of paint from day to day. We wanted to use the materials and containers Emily already had. Ultimately, we used plastic palettes with round wells, yogurt cups, and plastic baggies.

paint storage solution


The Payoff

Emily happily showing off the organized shelves

As we put items back, we followed the philosophy of “less is more”. We sorted water cups and storage containers by size, placing each size in its own drawer.

drawers with labels

Paints were sorted by color, with open containers placed in front. Brushes were also organized by size and stored to maximize accessibility. Emily also began to create a labeling system. As with most organizing projects, the largest hurdle is often dedicating the time to complete the project.

organized paints

Emily’s project only took a morning. Working together, we were able to create a more accessible, student-friendly, and efficient space. The biggest payoff was the increased amount of storage for students’ daily supplies and projects.

student paint storage


Although revamping your paint storage can seem overwhelming, remember taking the time to organize now will result in lots of saved time later. Grouping like items together and keeping frequently used items in an easily-accessible space will make your day run smoothly. Grab the handy checklist below and start organizing today!

Paint Organization Checklist
Click to download checklist!

What are your biggest struggles when it comes to painting supplies? 

Do you have any organizational tips or tricks to share?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek

Alecia Eggers Kaczmarek, an elementary school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about teaching and reaching students through an innovative and meaningful arts education.

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