I took a break from art for a few days to get my studio (i.e., my bedroom) in order. I wasn’t really happy with the lighting in my space, so I made a change and swapped bedrooms with my daughter. I was also struggling with clutter overload, so I took the opportunity to dispose of a lot of excess stuff and completely reorganize. The changing of the seasons seemed like the perfect time to undertake the project.
My art supplies and personal possessions are much more manageable now, but the whole job took more than two days and it was exhausting. Unlike some of the glamorous studio tours I’ve seen, my room is very plain and simple and nothing special to look at (hence, no pictures!).
One thing I love about my new setup is that my scanner is next to my desk now, so I can use it whenever I want. I didn’t have a place for it before and I had to keep it in my basement, which made scanning a real chore. I also got a new Ottlite with an attached magnifying glass (which has already been coming in handy).
After I got everything set up, I had a massive scan-a-thon and rounded up some of my recent pen and ink work to show you all. Thanks for looking and enjoy!
I’ve been doing a lot of drawing, painting, thinking, and planning lately (as well as studying). My mind has been drifting to trees lately: the trunks, branches, and leaves that appear in my sketchbooks, but also the deep roots below. Scientists have found that there is much more going on underground than originally thought (Read: Trees communicate via their own fungi-based “internet”).
When I think of trees, I think of wisdom, strength, and stability. I’ve never had successful New Year’s resolutions in the past, but this year (probably because I am starting a new season after graduation) I really feel like I am starting my life over with a fresh start. I have been thinking of my priorities, and the things I really want to get done. I’ve also been focusing on my health, taking control of stress, and finding ways to incorporate minimalism into my life (Read: Go Deeper, Not Wider).
I’ve been enjoying spending time in my sketchbooks more than ever. Instead of being a task to check off my list, artmaking has become much more of a pleasure than it has been in a long time. I know that this feeling will not last forever, but I’m really loving it for the time being!
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:12-13
For more tree goodness, check out Terri Windling’s blog posts on trees. She writes so poetically, and the photos of her forest are so magical. Be sure to hover over each photo for poetry and quotes.
A few weeks ago I came across this blog post about how to implement a minimalist strategy with art and crafts supplies. Some of the author’s opinions are a little extreme and I prefer high quality materials even for sketchbook work. That said, so many people out there have a problem with collecting art supplies and she definitely has some good points. I also have realized how much I have veered off track from my minimalist roots. Going through nursing school is tough (I’m halfway done with the program!) and I have definitely used art supply purchases as a reward for getting through school in one piece.
At this point, I have plenty of interesting supplies to play with and I’m going to focus on using them to their full extent. The biggest thing that has helped me maintain control is to decline purchasing supplies that do not relate to my chosen media. Right now I only work in watercolor, pencil, and ink. Until I have a bigger studio space, I have decided not to pursue acrylic, pastel, oils, printmaking, etc. It’s not that I don’t have an interest in experimenting with other media; it’s more of a practical way to stay focused. For the rest of the year, I am going to make a concerted effort to stay out of art supply stores and use up what I have. I do have some new supplies that I have not finished experimenting with yet, so stay tuned for some future blog posts about those.
I read this book a few months back and it has really stuck with me, which is rare for a nonfiction book. I am someone who has struggled for years with what Marie Kondo calls “rebound.” My relationship with organization is similar to what some people deal with when yo-yo dieting. I go on a massive cleaning spree and have things under control for about one week, but things quickly fall apart again. Over the past four years or so I have really improved, due to drastically reducing my living space and possessions accordingly. Even still, I continue to struggle, as I have not been able to stick to a long term solution. When my summer term is over, I am going to do a purge and fully implement her method. I will report back on my findings.
This is one of my favorite passages of the book:
If you have read this far, you have probably noticed that in my method your feelings are the standard for decision making. Many people may be puzzled by such vague criteria as “things that give you a thrill of pleasure” or “click point.” The majority of methods give clearly defined numerical goals, such as “Discard anything you haven’t used for two years,” “Seven jackets and ten blouses is the perfect amount,” “Get rid of one thing every time you buy something new.” But I believe this is one reason these methods result in rebound.
Even if these methods temporarily result in a tidy space, automatically following criteria proposed by others and based on their “know-how” will have no lasting effect – unless their criteria happens to match your own standards of what feels right. Only you can know what kind of environment makes you feel happy. The act of picking up and choosing objects is extremely personal. To avoid rebound, you need to create your own tidying method with your own standards. This is precisely why it is so important to identify how you feel about each item you own.
–Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, pg 125-126.
A house nearby has been condemned for many months and it about to be demolished. I sketched it from across the street, albeit from an odd angle. The doors and windows have been removed and I’ve seen little critters go in and out of it. Heavy equipment is sitting in the front yard, waiting to get started. I am curious to see what will be rebuilt in the location.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about houses and homes, especially since I’ve been in this flux mode for the past few months. The project is going to be delayed by a few weeks due to some unforeseen scheduling difficulties and I am feeling so antsy to get back into my space again. Being between homes is an unsettling feeling.
Another part of me is thankful for what I have, and I am a lot luckier than a lot of other people in my situation. I’m thinking about how I am going to decorate my new space once I move back in and I have an idea of something clean, uncluttered, with a muted palette. I am having fun shopping for a new rug, lamps and a cabinet for my art supplies.
Recently I saw the new documentary called TINY. It follows a couple building a tiny house from scratch, with no prior carpentry experience. A number of other tiny house builders and residents are interviewed throughout, including Macy Miller, whose blog I follow. I really enjoyed the film, and it has gotten me thinking about my ideal living situation.
I do not think a tiny house would be feasible for me at this point in my life, as I could afford the house but not necessarily the type of land I would want, but it is something that I fantasize about from time to time. If I the opportunity, I would build a tiny house to live in and another one next to it as a studio, like Kate Johnson’s.
Update: My scanner is unplugged and I don’t have a good place to set it up, so I will most likely be photographing drawings out of my sketchbook for the time being, like I did above. I am also starting a larger (for me) watercolor (no ink) for my weeknight painting group. It’s an unusual subject for me so I think I will wait and post my in progress photos when I am finished, in case things go majorly awry.
Right now I am in the process of decluttering my space and getting rid of a lot of my possessions in preparation for a move and renovation. I have a banker’s box full of old sketchbooks going back all the way to 1997. I have held onto my sketchbooks and carried them from place to place for years now, but I no longer have the room for them and I’ve decided I must take drastic measures. I have decided to scan and/or photograph all of my sketchbooks and then dispose of the originals. Read more