Noah writes; I have really gotten serious about my colored pencil and graphite drawings and I have improved a lot (thanks to you)! However, I was wondering how you store your art when it is on paper? Do you mat it before you frame it? How do you store it before you finish it? Do you just set it aside or do you file it, etc.? Thanks so much for all you do!

I have a few different ways that I store finished drawings to keep them from getting damaged.


If you’ve got the space to store artwork that has been framed, this is one of the safest ways to make sure that work doesn’t get smudged! I first spray the work with a finishing spray like the Matte Finish spray from Krylon. Once that is dry, I matt the work, then put it into a frame behind glass. Make sure that when you matt the work, whatever you use to keep the artwork in place is acid-free. When I was younger I used to use regular masking tape or scotch tape to tape the work to the matt, but these are not acid-free and can cause the work to yellow over time. There are plenty of acid-free alternatives available at your art supply stores.


If you’re like me and you produce so many drawings that framing them all before they sell isn’t practical due to cost and space, a portfolio can be a great way to go. Here, I also spray the work with a matte finish, then when dry put it into the portfolio. Make sure that whatever you use is intended for art and is acid-free. Using a regular school type folder with clear plastic sleeves is not the best choice unless you know for sure they are acid-free.

ClamShell Boxes

Clamshell boxes have become a new favorite for me. I mainly use these for larger pieces that don’t fit into a portfolio, for colored pencil work done with powder blender that needs to be kept flat, or for work that has charcoal or carbon pencil on it that would easily be smudged in a portfolio. I like to spray graphite or charcoal pieces with my matte finish, then I lay them flat with a piece of glassine between each project for extra protection from one piece smudging another. Glassine is great because nothing will stick to it. If I used tracing paper or another piece of paper between the work, pencil or charcoal can end up sticking to it and it increases the risk of smudging from the paper you intended to protect the work with. Glassine is also acid-free and made to protect artwork.

If I worked in powder blender on a colored pencil piece, these are always stored in the clamshell boxes after spraying with the final fixative from Brush and Pencil, then again covered with glassine. If It is a colored pencil piece that I did not use powder blender with, I do not spray anything over those (they don’t need it), but I do cover them with glassine.

You can fit several pieces stacked on top of each other within these clamshell boxes.