03 September 2014

Shamed into action

October 2010
Not a pretty sight - the studio before its rearrangement. (Have you been documenting your workspace, to see how it changes over the years?)

Nearly four years later, though the layout has changed, the same fundamental problem remains. Although I'm ok once there's a project on the go, I don't look forward to entering the studio. I can ignore the chaotic bits when there's something compelling to focus on, or when the table under the window is clear and invites sitting at it -- but otherwise, it's just too gloomy, both in terms of light level and in terms of Stuff Everywhere.
September 2014
I'm lucky to have amassed "everything I'll ever need", but when the need does arise, I can't find the tool or material. That really does make me wonder if it would be a good idea to get rid of it ALL, and replace the few things I actually do use.

The things I use seem to be getting fewer and fewer, as I find materials and processes that satisfy me, that I enjoy working with and that suit my practice. (Oo, doesn't that sound "artistic", talking about one's Practice - but it's a useful word and includes a lot: what you do, and how, when, where, and why you do it.)

Still, it's good to have the pens and the fabrics and the papers and the threads and the postcards-to-be-painted-over and the boxed-up materials for forgotten projects and the dozen+ bargain fabrics for backs of double-bed sized quilts and the little bag of powdered graphite and the drawerful of gouache watercolour paints and the drawerful of masking tape of various widths and the bag of scrap papers and various sets of coloured pencils and ......... you get the idea. Too much stuff. (Plus, fabrics stored in cupboards upstairs - amid unfinished projects of course!)

"The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." After lunch, I put the Archers omnibus on the iplayer - and then another few programmes - and by 6pm much had been relocated and binned, and the worktop was clear, though the table under the window seems rather crowded -
Doubting my painting prowess, painter/decorator son gave the surface an undercoat in a few minutes before dinner -
In the morning I did the cutting in [technical term for brush-painting the bits the roller doesn't reach] -
After, though not quite ready yet
It still needs two coats of eggshell - with sanding between times - so it will take all week to finish this properly, during which time I'm motivated to sort through (and toss out) more of the "bits" that are everywhere. The shelves are marvellous for keeping often-used tools to hand, but seem to be crowded with never-used files of old projects ...  having written that, it's obvious that they should be for current or frequent work only. It would be good to have some containers that fit those shelves, which are quite narrow - 21cm (x 69.5cm wide x 32cm high).

Containers! - no sooner said than done - from the pound shop just across the road -
There's a lot of rearrangement and rethinking to be done before those boxes are filled and in place. Rethinking of, eg, where the sketchbooks should go - are they consulted enough [ever?] to be considered "current"? Decisions about, eg, how and where to store the "wobbly book" ... where are the other, similar books, is this "erasure" project (of Morning Pages written more than a decade ago) still alive, or should these books now be burnt?  Making space elsewhere for the dictionaries etc I've been accumulating for eventual repurposing in some arty way [will that ever happen? is that really part of my practice?] ... or maybe just returning them to the charity shop from whence they came - that option is very tempting - close one door and another opens...

Meanwhile I'm stepping into the studio every time I pass the door and marvelling at the lovely white expanse. For the moment, it's a dream come true.


irene macwilliam said...

Tidying or sorting through my room and stuff happens when I have no compelling idea or piece to work on. I am trying to tell myself that inspiration will come but inside I am saying, - I do not think I will ever have a good idea or the ability to produce an interesting piece of work.

Stitchinscience said...

This is such a relief to see this activity Margaret. I was in a frenzy last weekend trying to find my Bondaweb. Still not found it, so hvave ordered some more - I'm sure the minute it arrives I will find the original blooming roll.

magsramsay said...

Moving house made me focus on sorting through stuff but that's a bit drastic! I tidy and sort fabrics and threads between projects but the art materials are more problematic - I haven't used pastels in years, never got on with them and yet.... They're stored in Ivar wooden boxes on Ivar shelving so hidden from view
I've purged a lot of the textile stuff I know I'm never going to use again (beads, procion dyes, fabric paints, weird stuff like expandaprint) by selling them on at the 'been there, done that' table at Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles

Sandy said...

Wow, it is amazing the difference in having a white surface makes to everything. It seems to make a statement that clutter won't be happy here.

KAM said...

Your post surely encourage me to continue with my process of sorting, evaluating and organizing my truly way over necessary collection of textile materials and printing materials. For me it is taking many levels of "go through" and each level I am doing better with the reality of what is needed to create artwork.

Your space changes are most wonderfully executed - the white creating surface is grand.


patty a. said...

Sounds like you are off and running now! I just fixed up my studio space earlier this year and with newly painted ceiling and walls the space is much more pleasant to work in. Yes, I still need to make new window coverings, touch up some paint, and buy and install carpet tile, but the messy stuff is done! I have been better about putting things away when I am done with them instead of just chucking them somewhere. With all the clean up I did put my glue gun somewhere and I finally found it the other day. Keep up the good work!

Janis Doucette said...

Ah yes! Looking good! I need to tackle the same problem myself....again. And I'm also questioning the need for some supplies I don't use at all anymore...or haven't in ages, but.....you never do know! LOL!

Anonymous said...

three years ago I had new windows put in my sewing/work room. TWELVE! I have windows on three sides and two doors on the fourth. While I moved everything away from the windows, I decided to paint the ceiling and walls--I used a creamy white on the ceiling and a blue heather Martha Stewart for the walls. Just going in that room now makes me smile--it's one of my favorite colors. And while all my 'stuff' was piled up, I sorted as I returned to the shelving. It took a long time but it was worth it.

LA Paylor said...

how uplifting your changes are!! I think a studio needs re organizing every few years because we work differently and need different things. We learn what's essential and where it should go. I agree with white. It's clean and reflective and calming. I like those fancy studios with colorful walls but it would be distracting for me. I have so much stuff, interesting and pretty and necessary stuff that white is a blessing. Come see my mess.
LeeAnna at Not afraid of color

JAQUINTA said...

I love the newly painted white work surface ....I too wish my art materials could be stored in a more tidy way and yet I need them on open shelves for ease of access....I am resolved to tidy up and sort out more frequently and I have some old notes to get rid of ....it is hard to throw away sketchbooks and to realize that there are some projects that I am never going to go back to