Wednesday, May 3, 2006

It's a Good Mess

Turquoise Front, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x16

Visitors to our house (not that we have many out here in the sticks) can always tell how busy I am by the amount of clutter in my studio and office. When I am on my regular painting schedule and things are running smoothly, my studio is fairly uncluttered, well organized and clean. This is how I prefer my studio to be, all perfect and light. This is how it looks today:

I have stacks of frames waiting to be painted black. My flat work table is constantly covered with panels being gessoed or panels whose cradles are being painted. The ledges are full of works in progress and my "extra" work station, meant for drawing, is full of some of the cradled boards that were just delivered. And in case you are wondering, the stuffed animals and other objects on top of those panels are there to keep the cats off of them. Naturally, they tend to lounge on everything in my studio so I have to pile things on top of things to discourage them. Our big, fat, lazy male cat actually cracked one of my cradled panels once by jumping up onto it and then sleeping there for two days.

My desk area is also a wreck. I am totally behind on my recordkeeping and taxes (yep, we filed an extension) and am also in the midst of getting the kids signed up for various summer camps and activities, so there are papers everywhere. The dustballs (actually it's cat hair) have gotten away from me and frankly, many of them seem to be invisible. I sweep them up almost every morning, but despite that, if I make any quick movements, a big one will show up and head directly towards the easel and the wet gooey paint.

Despite the unsettling feeling of being so disorganized, I also kind of like it. It's nice to just focus on the work and not worry about the stuff all over the place. A messy studio also means that I have much painting going on, deadlines to meet, creativity to harness, and these are all exciting things to have going on as an artist. I also love taking a day or so to clean and put everything back where it goes after the paintings have been shipped or delivered. That feeling of accomplishment (and relief) is so worth having to carefully inch around stacks and piles of paintings, panels, frames and cat hair, for weeks while preparing for a show.

So it's all good.


Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Shan, I am working on a post about framing and will disclose all of my valuable secrets soon.....

martha said...

Hahahahahah! These make me feel better. You should see my studio right now. It's barely passable. This happens every time I get busy; I'm like my son, who drops his clothes as he removes them, without even noticing he's doing it. I'm the painterly version of pigpen. Once I finish a project, or a stopping point in a project, I have no choice but to tidy up, or I would never be able to find anything. Especially on my desk, which is huge, and should be able to handle more disaster than it actually does. I have to push back drifts of paper and miscellania to get to any kind of firm surface.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Martha, Wow, what a mess! I can understand working in chaos, I can do it, but only for short amounts of time, before I start getting too annoyed. Is it just your studio that is cluttered or everywhere else too?

Shan, My kids seem to have picked up my pack rat gene, but NOT the organized gene, which has led to them being total slobs, so far anyway. Maybe they'll change.


I think I will clean my studio tomorrow. Mine gets totally wrecked from time to time but then I get where I cant do a thing until its clean.