15 April 2013

Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop!

If you've hung around the blog for any length of time, you'll know the battle that I fight with my studio. At times it's been civil, at others I have considered lighting it on fire. There are a lot of things my studio space has taught me - about my art, my habits, my mindset. So when the fabulous Cheryl Sleboda proposed a Spring Clean Your Studio Blog Hop, I decided it was time for me to begin The Project that I've been considering for a couple of years now.

There are a few things you should know about what I'm about to post here:

1. I don't apologize for the amount of stuff I own.

2. I don't apologize for the messes I generate.

3. Truly cleaning your studio is a process that can rarely be completed in one session.

4. I'm not going to show you a compeltely spotless picture perfect clean studio at the end of it.

What I will do is this - tell you to STOP FEELING GUILTY about how your studio looks. Own it. If it makes you twitch, clean it. If it doesn't and there aren't any cockroaches sharing the space,  enjoy it. I'm tired of the people that judge artists who have messy spaces and for the guilt that creeps in when an artist describes what a trainwreck their creative space has become after a project. It's all a process, it will always get cleaned and messed up and cleaned again and messed up again.

Guilt over it is wasted energy. Period.

I am also going to share my Scoop and Sort cleaning method. This has helped me reign the studio in on more then one occasion. It does not result in a Martha Stewart magazine spread studio but it's the best system I've developed for keep my space workable.

So without further ado, here was the state of my studio before I began cleaning:

I discovered the "Panorama" option on my iPhone camera - now you can see my entire space in a slightly distorted shape. The mess, however, is not distorted. That's how she looked.

How did it get this way? Well, several ways. Lots and lots of deadlines but I can't blame it all on that. I've come to some very honest realizations lately (more on that in a second) that will require more long term work to overcome. But I've got art to make and this really is about as messy as I can tolerate. Not a single clean work space to inhabit. Time for Operation Scoop and Sort.

Essentially what Scoop and Sort is is a quick method of putting things back where they belong. You've got to have spots for items to make this work but it doesn't need to be perfect. First what you do is you transfer the bulk of the mess to a single spot. For me, that's my print table:

 Doesn't look drastically different does it? Look a little closer. Stuff is off my desk (where my laptop and monitor is) and stuff is off the floor. I get visually overwhelmed when the mess is crawling over ever single surface so I need to lump it into one spot. The fabric heap in the back does not apply to this step in the process, it will be dealt with separately.

Here's a closer look at my print table after the Scooping has occurred:

Now I Sort. And the way I do that is with some small baskets lined up on my now clean ironing board and some trash bags:

Slowly and honestly go through the heap you've just created. Throw out what needs to be thrown out. You can never convince me that you need to keep every scrap of what you have in your studio. I treat my stash like a pet that I love dearly but let's be truthful, some it is just trash. Pitch it. Move on.

I decided to take this opportunity to try out something new. I changed the position of my print table to see if it would allow me to work easier on my pieces.

This picture sums up why I changed it:

In the very first picture, you can see that I had my table with the long side against the wall. I have short little arms (I'm only 5'1") and could not reach past where the paint on my table cover has paint on it. Plus I could only work from one side. Does this reduce walking space? Yes, it's a small studio and not everything can be perfect. But I think this will make my table more functional and hopefully make working on larger pieces easier.

Here's how the studio looked after sorting and the table was moved:

Clean print table. Sorting baskets full but not bulging. Some items have wandered back onto my desk during the Sorting but they will be dealt with before this cleaning session is done. The thing that is making me truly nuts in this picture is the giant heap of fabric in the back.

So I sat down and started sorting that. Noticed I said "started". That right there is something that will take hours and I don't want to overwhelm myself by thinking I need to get it all done at one time. So the items in the baskets that were used for Sorting will be emptied by putting away the items in their approriate homes and then I'll use the empty baskets to help sort that pile.

Here's how the space looked when I finished:

Is there more to do? Yup. Without a doubt. But I can work, I can make stuff and not want to swear at inanimate objects or step on a quilting pin again.

I limit myself to 2 hour cleaning sessions at one time. For a couple of reasons. One is that my attention span after that amount of time seriously wanes and my version of cleaning and sorting quickly turns into "Shove this here and I'll deal with it later." Which just leads to a bigger mess for me to deal with later.

Secondly, it keeps my studio time balanced - cleaning and then I can work on stuff.

I've come to some conclusions about my studio.  Want to hear them?

1. It's small. I need to deal with it. It's a decent size but I have to stop comparing it to artists that have separate spaces that are the size of a small house. I can either make it efficient or stop making art. The second one is obviously not an option so that leaves me with figuring out how to make it what it needs to be.

2. It needs to be overhauled. All the way down to painting the walls.

3. I can't feel bad about this. The space needs to evolve as my work does and that's why I think it will truly never be perfect. Somehow that makes me calmer about the whole process.

4. Owning a lot of storage containers does not automatically make me organized. It's actually contributing to the clutter.

5. The things that I don't use anymore need new homes.

6. I need to change my habits of throwing things on other surfaces or the floor when I'm working.

7. I need help to pull this off.

I've got a vision in mind for the space that I am determined to bring into being. But it will be a big undertaking and I think there are a lot of artists out there like me so I plan to take you all along for the ride. Hopefully the process will inspire or help you with some issues you are having as well.

And remember that this is a blog hop so here is a list of the other participants who also agreed to show you their spaces before and after cleaning. Do stop by and say hello to them! :)

Cheryl Sleboda

Amy Wright Weaver

Judi Hurwitt

Jim Parrillo

Lisa Chin

Barb Forrister

Frieda Anderson

Happy Spring Cleaning and Hopping! :)


Carolyn B (vintagepix) said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who tends to pile things out of the way to deal with later :) Great post as it makes my face my own issues (#4 - you mean accumulating more storage containers and leaving them piled empty on the floor does NOT clean my work space??)

mary said...

you really do have an impressive collection of storage containers!

Lynda said...

Lynn, this is great to see your before and after. I need to forward this post to my hubby to show him I'm not the only messy one. Thanks. Now I need to work on mine AGAIN!!

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Been enjoying this blog hop. I love your honesty about your habits and your cleaning methods - guilt is not useful for any of us. If it makes you feel any better: we moved to a new house in August, and I STILL don't have the studio set up. I grab things from the boxes in the studio and basement and work on the dining room table most of the time. Realizing that I need to set aside a chunk of time every day if I'm ever going to create a workspace of my own.

Nancy said...

Well done! Are you sure I can't convince you that every little scrap needs to be saved? That's my downfall. And I'm with you- lots of neat storage containers does not a neat space make.

Barb Forrister said...

Lynn, fabulous! Love the idea of using baskets to sort things out!

Judi Hurwitt (Approachable Art) said...

You made some awesome progress! This is the first time I've seen inside your studio and I really enjoyed the tour, and the honesty with which you address both the really excellent and the not-so-excellent. I think moving the print table was genius, do you like it? I can't wait to follow along on your journey of organization- you know what a fetish I have for it and I am crazy about peeking into other people's spaces to see how they accomplish it!! Wonderful post, Lynn!

Lisa Chin said...

Thanks for taking us along with the process! I love seeing process, not matter what it is. I love your scoop and sort method. I have some of my children that are easily overwhelmed by a messy room and I think your method would be very helpful for them. Thanks so much! I look forward to seeing your future cleaning sessions!

Virginia said...

Thanks for your encouragement and honesty! So true, so true. At the moment I am in the "shove that aside so I can finish THIS" stage, but it's almost time for a tidy up. I am inspired.

Sherri Lasky said...

I love your way of thinking. The only time I clean my studio is if the mess is actually getting in my way of getting my quilts done. Other than that I work around it. Having said that. WHEN I do clean, I try not to start any projects for at least a day, just so I can take in what the space used to look like. Then I dig right back in. :)

Sandra L. said...

Lynn, thanks for being honest about your studio and habits!

I am always struggling to get more table space. I have a tendency to leave works in progress on the work table because I think "I'll be right back to work on this." Then they sit and don't get finished. I have an IKEA Expedit but I know I could be using it more efficiently.

I need to keep reminding myself that the *studio* is a work in progress!

And no guilt!

Thanks again!

bellefrogworks said...

What a helpful post - my husband calls my studio the zone. When I got to my new house I thought my studio was huge - turns out it's been shrinking since I got here. I'll throw away the guilt and enjoy. I like your scoop method. Putting it away takes so much time that I just shove the mess somewhere.

Heather said...

Thank you very much for sharing this - your post was very helpful, especially the points about not apologising. My craft room isn't terrible, but it's getting to the point where it's hard to work, and I think I just need to give it a lovely spring clean so that I can work in there again.