Recently my husband went back to England (where he’s from) to attend the Paralympics, and I took the opportunity offered by his absence to go through everything I have arty and reorganize. There was too much stuff piled on top of other stuff, and I hated it and I felt bad about it, ashamed that it was such a shambles.
So I used his man-cave (filled with musical instruments) and the hallways and got everything out–because you can’t reorganize until you know what you have and how much you have of it.
Probably I should have taken some in-process pictures, but frankly I am glad I didn’t. Mentally I was finished with the project about four days before I was done in reality. It was good that I knew in my heart that if you just put one thing away and then another thing, eventually it’s all gone, because it was certainly overwhelming at many points.
Especially when I was going through all the little treasures that I have saved and saved (although very rarely actually used) and trying to sort them into meaningful groups that could be put away in a useful manner for finding and using.
Part of what took so long too was reintegrating all the things I used to truck around with me to use while waiting during kids’ activities. Our schedules have changed and I no longer have to occupy myself for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at a time–but that meant all the duplicate supplies had to be dealt with.
I am happy to say that I am very pleased with the end result, though, and I feel proud of what I do and where I do it. Given all that I have learned and thought about over the past year and the workshops I’ve taken (free online Strathmore ones, Julie Prichard & Chris Cozen’s ones over at The Land of Lost Luggage), I did the following:
–got rid of the substandard supplies I have that have been replaced with better quality items
–set things out so that basic media can be reached from where I sit (paintbrushes, mark-makers, ink pads, adhesives and acrylic mediums, pencils, pastels, etc.)
–got all substrates together in a single place–I am NOT buying any more for a while!
–acquired a Billy bookcase from Ikea and placed it in front of an unused door in the hallway, just outside the utility room where the rest of my supplies are (things that are used for a particular need–book sewing frame, Vagabond die-cut machine, book cloth, paper pads), and put my personal library there as well as displayed some of the things I have made
I also touched every single piece of paper I own and regrouped and refiled it. That was a serious pain.
When I was done with it all, I made diagrams of what is where, and next week I will make it pretty and place it somewhere close at hand.
I have reorganized before, but never to this extent. It was good as always to be reminded of what I have, and it was really the first time that I had a feel for how I might use things (like papers I have painted myself, images I’ve collected, etc.) and thus where I should put them for best access.
To close, I would explain the title of this post. In England this summer I saw The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, at the end of a library row, and it seemed to me that I was meant to check it out, that it was impossible to walk by it, that doing so would be a huge cosmic mistake. So many artists I read interviews with mention this book, and although I am not religious at all, I felt that surely what has helped so many disparate artists (successful enough to be interviewed!) find their way with confidence surely couldn’t hurt me. I read it through beginning to end, and I tried the morning pages a couple of times to see what that was going to be like, but I knew I could not start in earnest until school had started for the children.
Then after getting home from holiday, I realized that I could not devote myself fully to this exploration of my self with all these things at home that were screaming at me to be done, rolls of book cloth piled onto of wood panels next to untidy stacks of magazines covered up by sheets of paper. So I spent a couple of weeks getting things organized in my physical presence so that I could then truly take the time needed to explore mentally. I needed the headspace for this, and that was how I got it. I felt that setting up my studio and storage areas (spent less than $400 for additional items) was a sign of respect for my efforts of creativity and a sign to all, my family and myself as well as anyone who walks in through the front door, that said efforts deserve this attention.