It was early spring when we first started talking about having yet another garage sale, but it didn’t happen until mid-October. By then it was such an “Okay, we’re freaking doing this – go!” kind of thing that for three days straight I blazed through the house purging, cleaning, reorganizing – the whole nine – to be ready by the weekend.
Saved for last, my art room took up a good chunk of those three days. It had been abandoned most of the summer, desperately needed dusting, and I knew that if I reeeeeeally put my feet to the fire, I’d find a ton of stuff for the sale. I don’t typically keep more things than I really need in the rest of the house, but my art room is an exception. Like, makes-up-for-all-the-other-rooms exception. There isn’t a paint swatch from Home Depot that I won’t keep for “a project!” I’ll cut up and keep an empty kleenex box if the design is right. Paper goods (books, magazines, card stock, scrapbook paper, kleenex boxes, etc.) and mark-making utensils are my kryptonite, and, because I have this space all to myself, decorating it with weird junk from the thrift shop has also been a source of “extra” that was never really necessary. But kinda.
The purging began first – opening every drawer, every box, every file folder. A lot of stuff went straight into the garbage. I think I hauled at least four full bags out to the alley! I finally went through two boxes of photos I’ve been dragging around with me for 15 years. Result: 89.7% of them in the trash. I forced myself to really be honest about every item: Do I really love this? Would I really miss it? Is it colorful enough? C’mon, are you suuuuure you’ll use it? In the end I set aside a LOT of items for the sale. We’re talking legit poundage here, friends. Do you know how heavy 50 pounds of scrapbook paper is? 50 pounds! I had empty containers, boxes and bins that I now didn’t know what to do with. The corners of the room were clear. There was nothing under the bed anymore. Once I cleaned and dusted and vacuumed and moved the furniture, it looked, well, positively amazing.
I had to change it!
Feeling accomplished and unencumbered but not quite satisfied, I switched gears to “let’s make this joint really feel like me” mode. I busted out the Mod-Podge and made a new inspiration board to hang by the desk. I moved the inspiration board I already had to a more prominent location – right in front of my face if I’m sitting at the desk. I re-labeled boxes and drawers. Framed a photo of Frida Kahlo (hero!) and put it on the desk, too. Painted the doors of a little cabinet. Switched the doo-dads and trinkets around. Changed up the wall art. Edited. Re-edited.
I also made promises. To me. That all this work would not have been done in vain. That I would sit in this space, make stuff in this space, dream some more in this space. That I would, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, but especially in this space, live up to the mantra that I doodled and then had permanently seared into the flesh of my left wrist last winter: live colorfully.
To that end, making time for art was priority uno. I’ve had these “I swear I’m committing!” moments before. I can’t say it won’t fizzle out like all the others, but it feels different this time. I hope like hell it’s different this time because there’s a little pile of embers that have been glowing in my soul for years now, begging to be ignited into a blaze of creative fury and color and true me-ness. To help facilitate success (or at least some appearance of longevity) I made a little art game for myself. I had c0me across a stack of cards that I had pulled out of an issue of Flow magazine months ago.
They were for writing down “beautiful moments” of your day and though I intended on using them, never did. The pile almost went in the trash when the purge happened. But at the last second it occurred to me that they were the perfect size and style to use for prompts. Which kind of prompts I didn’t know at that moment, but I set them aside. When my room was done, I pulled the stack back out and started filling them with art prompts – little artistic tasks I could do on a (hopefully) daily basis. Just something that would allow me to play without pressure or high expectations that could be completed in a short amount of time if necessary. I’m kind of totally in love with them.
I’ve shared the first couple prompts and their end products on my Facebook page (or see right sidebar), and am planning to post a new prompt every couple days. I’ll do this regardless of audience, but won’t you come play along with me? Don’t be shy. I love art but do not consider myself an artist. I am untrained, undisciplined, and unimpressed with convention. These are simple exercises that anyone who wants to add more art, craft or color to their life can do. You can do all of them, some of them, or just stalk. Totally up to you. There’ll be no pressure or timer or judge, which means no worries!
I can’t think of a greater motivational force than cleaning your art space. There’s a saying about never trusting an artist with a clean studio, and I do love when it gets messy because that means I’ve been busy working, but having a shiny clean slate on which to begin again gives me such a shove back into the deep end. I’m gonna try to keep my head above water this time.
Hope to see some of you join me! :-)