Magpie logic

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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.

080401-3treesbush-illus-dsI 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.

Magpie syndrome

magpie-black-billedI 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.

yorkh1-day1sdswAt 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


[Note: I  may earn a commission if you purchase something I’ve linked to.]

2 thoughts on “Magpie logic”

  1. I followed you yrs ago and then lost track of you. I recently remembered how much I learned from you and Google you. Found your website and am having so much fun reading all the posts!

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