I’ve been completely redesigning my office/studio this week.
The room is a normal bedroom size, about 12′ x 12′, and it serves two important purposes: I write in this room, and I create art here.
The writing requires lots & lots of reference books within easy reach. I write on a variety of topics — mostly related to art, travel, history and/or paranormal themes — and I’m well-known for my exhaustive research using obscure (but fascinating) references.
Writers need to promote themselves and their books. So, I have stacks of PR materials, including a dozen different styles of business cards, each tailored to a particular audience. I need to access them easily when I get a call from an event or a reporter.
My art is all over the place, sometimes literally.
I paint with oils and acrylics. My canvases can be 36″ x 48″ or larger, and as tiny as 3″ x 3″. It’s easy to lose the little canvases and difficult to store the huge ones. They end up in boxes, behind doors, in closets, under beds, etc.
I also create fabric art, especially dolls and wearable art, plus quilts. My paper arts require considerable space, including my basic collage supplies (lots & lots of magazines) and embellishments.
Then there are the one-off assemblages that occur to me at odd moments, which — completed or in gestation — take up space.
Placing all of my writing supplies and all of my art supplies in the center of my studio floor… well, it’s been exhilarating and enlightening.
I often think of myself as a magpie, in a way.
Sometimes, I see things that spark a project idea.
More often, that project idea is how I explain to myself why I need to own whatever-it-is. It’s how I justify the acquisition.
This is important: If I stay locked into that project idea and don’t explore other options, that collected object becomes clutter. Two years later, I have only the vaguest memory of the painting, collage, shrine or doll that I intended to make. The energy is lost, at least partly in regret.
Don’t let the guilt obliterate the energy of the object, or how it resonates — no matter how quietly — with your creative impulses.
That’s what I’m learning as I open boxes and rediscover half-finished projects and objects that never realized their greatness in completed art.
At least half a dozen paintings were in limbo, waiting for the technique I’m currently developing in my work. (The photo at right is an example. It’s barely started, but I love the glow of the houses facing the sunlight.)
Until I hauled those paintings out of the closet last night, I had no idea those paintings were such wonderful starts. With a fresh eye, I can see what works — and what doesn’t — and the energy is surging off the canvas as I admire it.
(I thought they were just bad paintings that I’d paint over, eventually. But, every time I looked at them, I wanted to cry because I could see the sparks of brilliance in them. I couldn’t bear to paint over them, and now I’m glad that I didn’t.)
Yarn intended as doll hair now sings to me as embellishment wall hanging.
Books that I purchased are falling open to illustrations and phrases that almost glow with inspiration.
This is a very cool experience.
Though I realize this can be an excuse to accumulate clutter, I think it’s vital to avoid the extremes of collecting or purging, compulsively.
I’m also mindful that — from a bigger perspective — if you’re supposed to create a particular work of art, the supplies will probably show up, almost on their own.
However, as I sit here surrounded by art supplies, books and projects, I’m astonished at how precisely my “magpie collection” is fitting into place. It’s as if I always knew that this day would happen.
It’s a concept worth considering.
My paintings: Three Trees (Bush Park, Houston, TX)
York Harbor View (York Harbor, ME) – in progress
Photo credit: Magpie – Juha Soininen, Finland