My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1830: Brushing up on Organization

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 04-10-2017 12:52 PM 1021 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1829: Changes Part 1830 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1831: The Process »

Those of you who know me realize that I am an 'Organizational Junkie'.  

Yes – I am actually very proud of that fact. I grew up with very limited means and I was taught to respect and take care of the things we have. Throwing them here and there only causes them to get lost or damaged. Besides – how can we be efficient if we have to stop and look for stuff while we are in the midst of creating? Maybe others can work that way, but I sure can't. 

Last year when we moved into our new place here, I was fortunate enough to gain a real studio in which to do my work. It is located in a corner room and has windows on two walls, making it bright and cheerful. In addition to all the natural light, I decided to add a white rug and all white furniture as a base for it. This way I have a 'blank canvas' with which to decorate and it lends to the openness and cheerfulness of the room. 

My artist friends thought I was CRAZY! (So did many of my other friends) But I have had white rugs and light furniture before in my past lives and never had a problem keeping them clean. It only takes a certain amount of care and upkeep to keep it looking nice. 

Now we are about nine months later, and I am proud to say that everything looks as nice as it did when it was brand new. Perhaps even better as I add some things to the room here and there. I have a wonderful workplace that is clean, neat, functional and inviting in which I spend my days. I am really happy. 

One of the keys to keeping it nice is to keep up with the organization aspect of the room. I still have a little 'fine tuning' to do as far as my needlework and embroidery supplies go, but for the most part, I keep things in order. This doesn't happen automatically, though. It takes a couple of minutes after each session to put things back where they belong so that the next time I need them, I am able to find them quickly and not interrupt my workflow. It is a basic behavior that I am happy to say is a 'habit' with me and it makes my life much easier and more productive as well. When people ask how I accomplish so much in a day, I know that this is a large part of the reason. A little time spent each day to take care of our very beautiful and expensive supplies really pays off in the end. I can't have it under way. 

So recently, I have been searching for some new sources of brushes to recommend to my customers and readers. I used to use the Lowe-Cornell 7000 series of brushes, which was a higher end of brush from them. But in recent years, the company has changed hands numerous times and they have not only become more expensive, but harder for me to get, too. My favorite was a 20/0 liner that I have had for over 10 years and still use. It seems that they just don't make them the same anymore. 

I also had a stash of 'teaching brushes' that I would bring when I taught. Since that hasn't been for a while, I felt it was time to sort through the piles of brushes I have and put the ones that I use most for my own painting. Last night I posted pictures of my progress and I had a lot of interest from my painting groups and some of my other followers as well. I thought that putting everything into one comprehensive post would be a nice idea for those who want to reference it. So here it is. :) 

I use the upper part of my large cabinet to store my brushes, current paint project supplies, and several types of my colored pencils. I had my cabinets custom made so they are very deep since I had the room.

The trick is not to put stuff in front that blocks the stuff behind it if you can help it. The area in front is kind of a 'temporary holding area' where I can quickly tuck my paint and current project away when I am done for the evening. You will see that in later photos. 

I began by laying most of my 'current brushes' over the middle of the floor:

This was the only way that I could actually sort them into groups. I grouped them (for the most part) by brand and type. I then decided which ones I really use all the time and which I do not and only use for teaching or backups. Once that part was done, I was well on my way to getting things in a good place. The rest was easy. 

I began by using two of my decorative boxes for storing the brushes that I don't use frequently. 

The box on the left holds my large Home Decor Brushes. Most are Americana Decor from DecoArt. I LOVE them. I was given some Blue Ice to try and I haven't done that yet. I heard good about them and they seem nice, so I will let you know. 

The box on the right holds my 'extras' that I used for teaching or had from way back when. Many are Loew-Cornell, which I LOVED. But the company has changed hands many times and I don't know if they will have a good future. Others are several brands that I tried and didn't make the cut for one reason or another. Some lost their shape. Others fell apart, others just performed poorly. I am a very light painter and take good care of my brushes. There is no reason that they shouldn't hold up well. I hate to even give many of these away because they are . . . well . . . CRAP

I then filled a brush holder with many of my most commonly used brushes. These are mostly filled with my old Lowe-Cornell favorites and the many beautiful DecoArt Traditions brushes that I use. If you want a good brush, you can get the DA Traditions through Art Apprentice Online  They occasionally do put them on sale for 30% off and I buy them then. I do like them a lot. They are excellent quality.

The left side of my cabinet is filled with my different types of pastel pencils, Derwent pencils of various types, and watercolor paints. On top of that, I keep my wet palettes and water basin. In front are 'treats' that I send out with my orders and right now there is a wood order there, too. Everything is easy to get to. 

On the middle and right side, there are my two drawers for storing my brushes (they were pulled out in the first picture) and on top of it is a box that will hold my 'current project paints, pattern and surfaces' if they fit. That way I can tuck them away quickly.  On the far right in back are the two boxes and the brush holder that I showed you all, which stack up neatly and are easily accessible, as you see. In front of it is a brush bucket to hold the larger brushes that I don't want to squish in the drawers. You will see them in a minute. 

Now we will show all the drawers. We will start at the bottom and work our way up. I put the lesser used brushes in the bottom and the more frequently used ones in the top. That way if some small things are on the shelf, I don't have to move them every time I go into the drawers. (By the way – the drawers are available from Mary Kingslan Gibilisco here:

I am numbering from the bottom up. Drawer #1 -

First – my favorite stencil brushes – Laurie Speltz makes the best (I think it is I love her stenciling brushes! 

Next – Styluses – (can we ever have too many??? ) I use mine for other things and sometimes bend them. 

Next – Heather Reddick sable brushes for her beautiful stroke work. There are some mini sable mops there, too. 

Finally – some palette knives, a small utility knife, and a drafting pencil.

Drawer #2

First compartment – EMPTY (Room for MORE! :D )

Second are some new Royal ZEN brushes. They are really reasonable and so far I like them. Mary Kingslan Gibilisco sells them and you can get them around Charlotte Fletcher – you may like these. I do because they are similar to the Lowe-Cornell 7000 series anglers in feel. If they last – GREAT!

<div>Next – My Kolinsky Sable brushes. Mostly from Yarka. High quality and a bit costly. The darker one is from the DA Traditions line sold by Art Apprentice Online. </div>
<div>Finally – Royal Sabletek from Mary Kingslan Gibilisco. These are really nice (the ones I tried) but I still need to try more of them. You can see they aren't used yet. They feel like really nice quality.

<div>Drawer #3 </div>
<div>Mary Kingslan Gibilisco mops. High quality and they don't shed. </div>
<div>Then the DecoArt Traditions Flats. BEAUTIFUL brushes. </div>
<div>Next the DecoArt Traditions rakes and domes. These are I think my favorite domes ever. Very nice for dry brushing. They are firm but have a beautifully soft and rounded head. Not as stiff as the LC deerfoot brushes. I love them! </div>
<div>Finally – the DecoArt Traditions Angular Shaders. These are nice, but they are a bit "fuller" than I like for my smaller stuff. I like using the chisel edge of the angular shader for lining and fur and stuff like that. These are a little full for that. But for bigger stuff, they are nice and they do hold their shape well. I use mine a lot.

Drawer #4 – This drawer is all Mary Kingslan Gibilisco's
<div>First the flats. They are beautiful and have a somewhat shorter bristle. This is because she works a lot with the Genesis paint which is much thicker than the DA Americana Acrylic. They work really well with the thicker paint and have beautiful control. </div>
<div>Next are the angular brushes and more, smaller flats. Same here. </div>
<div>Then the filberts. Really nice quality handles and they keep their shape well. </div>
<div>Finally, the liners and spotters. Again – all beautiful brushes. I really like this line and use it often.

<div>Drawer #5 – This is my 'workhorse' drawer. I actually got most of these brushes really CHEAP from Ebay. I haven't tried many of them yet, but I did for the painting I did last week and they did an amazing job for the price. </div>
<div>The first section is the liners. I think they cost about $6 for ALL of them!  </div>
<div>The second section is the flats. I like that they have longer bristles so you can load it up fuller for basing without getting the paint int the ferrule. I will have to see if they hold their shape well. </div>
<div>The third is a set of angular brushes. These came long handled and I cut them down on my saw. I like shorter handles. They are a 'thin' angular brush without lots of hairs, so working on the chisel edge is good with these. They were cheap, cheap, cheap though. I don't know how they will hold up. </div>
<div>The last section is four of my Lowe-Cornell 20/0 liners. I love these for lettering and I am afraid they will go the way of the dinosaur with the company changing hands again. I had one of these for over 10 years! It was my favorite for teeny, tiny details. The other brush is a Royal Mini-Majestic Monogram brush. I like it, but I forgot where I got it. It is short though so it isn't as good for lettering. I need one to hold more paint.

<div>Drawer #6 </div>
<div>First section – these are the brushes that Lynne Andrews uses. You can get them from her site at I am painting her Ark series and wanted to actually follow her technique and directions. I will let you know on them. </div>
<div>The next three sections belong to Peggy Harris. I just got these brushes last week and I think they will be my NEW favorites. Peggy works with Silver brush directly and created some of these amazing brushes. The green handled ones are the Ruby series, which is stiffer so it doesn't hold a lot of paint, but is great for precision work. They almost feel like fabric brushes. I absolutely fell in love with them. </div>
<div>The next section (white handles) are the Silver Ultra Minis. I used some of these for the fine details on a painting last week and LOVE them! They will probably replace my Lowe-Cornell 20/0 liner in the previous drawer because the liner holds a bit more paint and has a bit more control. I look forward to working more with these! </div>
<div>The last section are miscellaneous brushes from Peggy's site (  With Peggy being a lifetime artist, she really knows her stuff and I trust her products. I am going to be looking into more brushes from Silver that she told me would be suitable for my preference for painting. I am excited because so far, these are really wonderful. It would be nice to be able to not have to keep hunting for my 'perfect' line of brushes. In the long run, it will save me from buying every brush that I think with be "it".

And finally – My brush bucket:

On the left pile, there are my larger Mary Kingslan Gibilisco brushes. Anglers and flats mostly. In the middle are some dynasty angles and domes. They are nice, but the anglers are thick for my every day painting. But they can be used for blending my colored pencil drawings with the odorless mineral spirits. 

On the right, the Dynasty Faux Squirrel brushes. These are nice and hold lots, so they will be good for my watercolors. These were my favorite of the Dynasty brushes. I had trouble with the Black/Gold that everyone raves about. I march to a different drummer, I suppose. 

Sitting on the top of the bucket is Peggy Harris' beautiful Ultimate Varnish brush. I had to indulge in this brush! It is truly top of the line. Behind that are some large blenders from the Traditions line and some mops. 

As you see, everything fits nice and neat and is easily accessible:

I hope you liked this 'tour' of my brushes. You can get Peggy Harris' brushes on her website here:

Mary Kingslan Gibilisco sells both brushes and the boxes here:

And finally, the DecoArt Americana Traditions brushes are sold at Art Apprentice Online here:

Art Apprentice Online often puts them on sale for 30 percent off. :) 

In other news, we are updating the site today and sending out a newsletter. Keith has a new basket available (SLDK717) and we have some new sales.

I hope you stop by.  Look for your newsletter to arrive later on today. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing my brush organization. I think it is really helpful to keep things in order and I hope it gives you some ideas about some of the brushes you would like to try. 

Have a great Tuesday! :) 


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

9 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3555 days

#1 posted 04-10-2017 12:59 PM

The coding got goofed up on some of this. You can read the blog at my site if you wish without issues. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View bushmaster's profile


3794 posts in 2918 days

#2 posted 04-10-2017 02:28 PM

Now that is allot of brushes, do you have a favorite one, No wonderer your brush work is so fantastic, you have the right brush for the job. Your organization is great. actually it is reflected in the quality of your work and productivity also. Keep up the good work.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3555 days

#3 posted 04-10-2017 02:35 PM

Good morning, Brian! You are up ‘early’ here. I got up early, too. (5am this morning) That used to be my normal time, but since Pancakes died, I don’t sleep well and wind up sleeping in until about 8am or so. Hopefully this means that I am getting back to normal a bit, as I get so much more done when I have an early start. :)

I have favorites for different types of projects. I tried to mention that in the descriptions of each of the types in the drawers. I suppose the ones that wound up in the drawers are my favorites. :) I loved the Lowe-Cornell brushes but as I mentioned, the company keeps changing hands. It is now owned by – wait for it – . . . TUPPERWARE! (UGH!) I don’t have high hopes of the quality being what it was. I suppose we have to take them when they are good. Maybe that is why I ‘stock up’?

The Silver Brush Company brushes have promise. I will let you all know further how I like the other types. So far, the ones I received from Peggy Harris are excellent. I may have a new favorite brand!

I wish you a great week. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2708 days

#4 posted 04-10-2017 05:10 PM

I agree with you Sheila that the old Lowe-Cornell brushes were a great quality. I still use ones that I bought over 20 years ago. Your brush organization is very impressive – but it does show the quality of your work. Thanks for a great review of all the brushes in your workshop.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3555 days

#5 posted 04-10-2017 05:38 PM

I just feel better when I know where everything is. The worst thing is when I spend time searching for stuff or not knowing where I put something. It feels great to be on top of things. :)

Have a great afternoon! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Karl_B's profile


4 posts in 2250 days

#6 posted 04-10-2017 10:22 PM

I had to say this:

“Does “Brush Buyers Anonymous” mean anything? :)

Seriously I am glad for you. Like me who uses a lot of woodworking tools at work – a quality tool helps to do quality work.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3555 days

#7 posted 04-10-2017 10:26 PM

LOL, Karl! I am betting that I am not one of the WORST ones, either. Remember – I used to teach painting classes too so some of that big box is the remains of my teaching stock. Now the drawers – that is another story. But yes – they each have different characteristics and purpose and some are better than others. They are as individual as the medium and the artist. :)

Thanks for stopping by. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Druid's profile


2187 posts in 3430 days

#8 posted 04-11-2017 04:46 AM

It sure looks like you are fully enjoying yourself, and that’s the best part isn’t it?
Continue the joy. ;)

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3555 days

#9 posted 04-13-2017 12:43 AM

Hi, John. I am busy and relatively happy. :) Yes – that is the BEST part and the reward for all the hard work.

I hope you have a great rest of the week.

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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