Artist Pet Peeve: How to Use a Drying Rack and Avoid Ruining Your Painting


There is a tall double-sided drying rack in the art classroom with shelves that are spaced one inch apart to keep paintings from getting crushed together. A piece of paper 11″ x 17″ or larger will fit perfectly if the edges are aligned properly. It may seem easy to slide an artwork into a drying rack, but it’s not. Many art students make mistakes such as sliding the artwork in the wrong direction or use the wrong size of paper.

Personally, I was one of the students whose painting was destroyed. Every time I place anything on the rack, I take a picture of it first so I can turn it online. When I was finished taking photos, I placed my artwork on top of the empty space. As soon as I let go of the paper, it began to slide down so quickly between the thin spaces.

The artwork is laid out on the drying rack.

Trying to squeeze my hand between the two sides to remove it made matters worse since I noticed my painting was destroying the paintings of other students. The bell for the next class rang. I realized I was running out of time and notified my teacher, Ms. Mims, of what had happened. “We’ll check it out later,” she said.

During lunchtime, I decided to visit Ms. Mims’ class. It had already been taken off the drying rack when I arrived, and not just my painting had been messed up. I found two or more messed-up art pieces from other students; the only good news was that they had all turned in their artwork online.

I was concerned, so I asked Ms. Mims whether this problem occurred frequently to which she answered, “Yes, it’s frustrating, but this is what we have to deal with occasionally, which is why it’s so important to turn your art piece online when you’re through with it before placing it on the dry rack.”

There is one tall drying rack.

Since my artwork had been destroyed, I had no choice but to paint over it and improve it. At first, I blamed the drying rack, claiming that the racks were tilted downward toward the center, so my paper slid off. Other students in my class were not experiencing the same problem, so I knew I was doing something wrong.

The two things I think went wrong are: I didn’t check the large sheet of paper meant to keep students’ artwork from falling; the paper was quite smooth, which I believe led to it falling. Additionally, shoving my hand into the tight opening to save my painting only damaged other students’ paintings. Therefore, if your artwork drops below the rack, please let the teacher know as soon as possible.

Try not to make the same mistake as me; sometimes you can’t try and be the hero as it can lead to greater consequences.