Monday, February 24, 2014

The Everything Studio

Don't be fooled. These are mostly empty....
On the neat little calendar of my imagination, January is for organizing the studio. And in my head the process is more of a cheery, relaxing lark than the Herculean task it really is.

I imagine opening the door on a spacious, sun-filled room with space to MOVE; full of cute shelves and neat cubbies and color-coordinated baskets. Like more of a Mary Engelbreit studio than what it's currently become: a dreary, dusty, catch-all room filled with unrelated crap stuffed into boxes. A place where things go when Fest (and then Halloween and then Christmas) is over and I just want my life back again.... 

So weeks ago when I realized that January was nearly over and My Mess was still there and not going anywhere, I decided to get off my butt already and get to it.

It sounded so do-able. But soon the contents of that little room were all over the house. In piles. BIG piles. Piles that were blocking the exits, the windows, the TV. Just looking at them made me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.... What was I thinking??

There was the drawing pile, the resin pile, the jewelry-making pile, the polymer clay pile. There was the science pile and the collage-making pile, the painting pile and the writing pile. There were grocery bags full of sewing patterns, boxes full of colored pencils, stacks of drawing paper, a heap of canvases, and about a million little bags of crimp beads and head pins and toggles and charms....

Oh. My.

*Sigh*.... But you already know this because I've talked about it here. And early on in the process, when a friend responded to one of my many comments about this neverending overhaul with a terse "So DO it already!", I felt like I should apologize to you for all my woe-is-me-I'm-such-a-mess ravings.

I know that organizing that one tiny room would be so much easier if there was a single theme. But how do you organize an Everything Studio?.... Back when drawing was my Big Thing (I was a little boring then, but definitely neater) what I referred to as my 'studio' was nothing more than my dad's old drawing table pushed into a corner, with maybe a pile of art magazines on the side. It was all pretty portable then. And when I eventually took over an upstairs attic space, I was able to add a comfy reading chair and some bookshelves.

Then I took possession of a fabulous find -- an antique drawing table with cast-iron legs and some industrial bells and whistles. Huge, sturdy, and heavy as hell. There was room on it for multiple drawings at a time (as well as a cup of coffee, which turned out to be more of a problem than anything else....). The old thing took up the majority of any room I put it into, but I loved it! Yet, Dad's old wooden table had to come along as well, of course. It was like the 'bike I learned to ride on,' and occasionally I'd pull it out for old time's sake.

So, bottom line, drawing is what I do. It's what I've always done. And it's what I go back to over and over again. My studio has to be set up, first and foremost, for drawing. Sounds simple enough, right?

But apparently not, as over the years I've met dashing new mediums, sensed their potential, and let them run away with me for shameless, passionate flings.

I'm so dang fickle. Every new medium feels like The One until I've lost interest for the moment and have moved on to the next. And afterward all that STUFF needs STUFFING. Somewhere. And there's where the little snowball is made, all ready to roll down the hill and bury me in the avalanche.

I'll admit that one day into the current overhaul I wanted nothing more than to shovel everything into a dumpster and set it aflame. I didn't know where to start! It made me CRY.

In response to all my Overwhelm a friend wrote: "Two words: Ray Bradbury. If you ever watched his TV series and saw his "study" you have to realize you're in good company. An imagination without creative fuel is just madness." (Ray Bradbury! I can't imagine better company.)

Another friend commented: "Perhaps the gathering of materials is simply so you will create for the rest of your life. You do not see the world the way an accountant or an actuary does (thank the STARS!) and so, you live in an outward example of the creativity within. Potential is everywhere in the pencils and paints and bits of found things ... all waiting to be brought into being by your artistic brilliance. Artists with sparse surroundings kind of scare me." (Me too, actually. More brilliant thoughts to consider....)

So I've been soldiering on. What began a handful of weeks ago is still underway. It's not going as fast as I'd like, but it IS inching forward in little bits. The piles that were once filling my living room have been whittled down enough to go back into the studio from which they came. The room's not and never will be a page out of Where Women Create (gawd, I WISH!). Nor will the overhaul ever be finished (I realize this now). But the room is better than it's been in ages, and I can be proud of myself for that.

And I go in that room now and putter the day away, sorting bits-and-bobs, doodads and flotsam. Only now long hours go by and I discover I've spent them sorting less and playing more, as that almost-empty drawing table and those bouquets of colorful pencils and markers have a way of distracting me. (They have voices, did you know? Like children on a playground....)

And that's not SO bad, is it?

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