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! :)
Amy Wright Weaver
Happy Spring Cleaning and Hopping! :)