Daily Archives: January 21, 2020

Timeout for Art: Making Room

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Blackie Chan and Rosa Parks.
This image has nothing to do with the essay, but aren’t these dogs CUTE?!?

As I struggle to advance in the excavation-in-progress that is my studio, I encourage myself with plans for the future. There are new directions I want to explore, and old, familiar areas I want to spend time with. So, I continue the long, slow process of clearing and cleaning. It truly is an “excavation,” with layers that spark memories and reveal history.

Yesterday, I cleared shelves for a fresh and more current arrangement of supplies. Behind the watercolors, pencils and paints that I’d crowded in where they’d fit, were remnants of the sweet arrangement my granddaughter had made several years ago. Crayons, colored pencils, markers and stacks of paper strips were set up for her bookmark-making production, along with several samples. I scooped it all into an old suitcase I keep filled with art-making supplies for children. Had I allowed time for reminiscing, I’d still be standing there.

Tucked under the printing press, there was a large box filled with kitchen paraphernalia: holiday napkins, coffee filters suitable for a coffee pot I no longer own, wine corks saved for a long-forgotten project, staples, flashlight, batteries….That box was filled, I’m sure, several years ago when I cleared out a large, many-drawered apothecary cabinet that I was giving away because it took up too much space in my kitchen. The contents were loaded into that box and tucked out of the way. Until, I’m sure I told myself, I had time to go through them.

Yesterday, if I was going to continue my forward momentum, was not that time. I shifted the contents, other than a few ragged items that I was content to throw away, from the cardboard box into a sturdy lidded tote. I tucked it into an unused corner under the stairs, beside canning jars and other sorely neglected and nearly forgotten items. To further delay dealing with it, I know.

Another layer of history are the papers, drawing materials and reference books, gathered together thoughtfully each week for last summer’s drawing classes, then left in piles on any horizontal surface when the class was done. There are cans of house paint stacked behind the door, waiting for the project it was purchased for, or leftover from a completed job. Then there are the abandoned artworks, the works-in-progress and the works waiting to be framed.

Cleaning the studio is a tremendous, tedious and often overwhelming job. But I’m getting it done. Yesterday, with a marathon of old Barbra Streisand movies to keep me company, and ideas for future work to keep me inspired, there was good progress.