As I get ready for the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour in a couple of weeks, I have tackled not only cleaning and organizing my studio, but also painting the floor which means clearing the studio of pretty much everything. Though I began sorting and organizing a couple of weeks ago, I am feeling the pinch now, and I’ve kicked up my efforts quite a few notches. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished, but it’s a very daunting task.
One very positive thing has already emerged from all the cleaning and organizing. I have been purging — a lot. I’m probably like many artists who have tons of stuff — materials and supplies, unfinished work, old artwork, scraps of paper, experimental pieces, books, papers, and so much more. But here lately I have been really hating all the stuff that’s crammed into my studio, which is a one-car garage. Despite multiple purges over the past couple of years, there’s still so much that it’s downright overwhelming, and I’m tired of the clutter and the junk.
So, I’m purging, clearing space, and combatting the clutter.
It began a couple of weeks ago, as I began sorting through my fodder, ephemera, and scraps. Now, I’m not one to go to a store and buy stuff, but I collect a lot in my day-to-day life. I pick up postcards or business cards from businesses, restaurants, and shops. I get maps when I travel, and I keep my metro passes, bus tickets, and parking vouchers. I get stickers from everywhere, and coasters from breweries and bars. I collect much much more with the intention of gluing it all into my journals and art, but I don’t do a very good job of keeping up. It piles piles up.
As I began sorting through the fodder, I used some of it, held onto some of it, but got rid of so much more of it. Even though there was a part of me that wanted to hold on to it saying, “But I might need it in the future. I can use it in some art,” I had to let go, so many things ended up in recycling. Then I moved onto my artwork. This was a bit harder, and the emotional pull to keep it was even stronger. But I pressed on and sorted and purged and let go of so much. A lot of old, experimental artwork ended up in the trash or in recycling, and some of it ended up on the fire pit. It was a symbolic release of the stuff that keeps weighing me down. It was a symbolic purge by fire.
It’s liberating yet emotional to let this stuff go, much of it has been sitting around the studio for years, and though there’s that tug as I toss it, I truly know that I’m better off letting go. I’m never going to finish these or do anything with them, and much of this artwork is not my best. They’re pieces from long ago. Pieces where I was figuring out my style. Pieces that were experimental and crude and just not things that need to be out in the world. I have to let them go.
As an artist, it’s so easy to cling to the things that I have made — to the things that I have brought into existence, and there is a real attachment to these pieces because of the time, effort, and thought that I have put into them. But if I cling to these things, if I hold tightly onto all of these things from the past, I can’t move forward. The past can weigh us down, and the only way forward is to make space for the future by letting go of the things of the past. As long as all of this stuff clutters up my environment, my space, and my mind, I stay stuck when I so want to move forward, grow, and evolve. I need to let it go, clear the ground, and start new.
The process has continued with many other things in the studio, and I’m eager to get it all sorted, to let go of even more, to make space for new ideas, new work, new adventures, so I am slogging forward, digging through, and making space.
I can’t wait to share the final outcome.