Art by T Kurtz

There are those who will tell you that a tidy space is the sign of a disorganized mind. I don’t agree. If you had asked me this 25 years ago, I would have answered differently. I have learned a few things since then. Your mind wanders as you clean, you don’t really need all of it to do the dishes. Folding laundry can be a zen thing as well and you can get into a deep, calm space while doing it. Especially if you are an empty nester like me. The space is quiet, and I am just putting the right folds just so. While it wanders, you can problem solve.

Cleaning your studio space is a little like that. I take the time to make sure that my pastels are in the right color spots or that the slivers are put in their reserve jars. Go through my surfaces to make sure I know how many of each color I have. Mostly this helps me organize my projects and decide on the next subject to work on. I like to have a plan for the bigger ones, what direction to take and the color palette I might want to try. I try to spend 4 hours a day in my studio, and I take 30 minutes of that to organize the space and keep it tidy. Nothing disturbs my creative vibe more than having to search around for materials. If my studio space is tidy when I walk in, I can get right to work. I know what surfaces I have in stock and what colors are in my drawers.

In my studio, I don’t think of anything but my art and my business. I don’t worry about my family, my bills or anything else. I give myself permission to not worry about those things because I don’t want to clutter my creative space. When you create, you can get into a meditative space. What you bring into that mindspace will become a part of what you create. There are artists who are collected for their creative angst, I’d hate to hang out in their head. Therefore, no bills, no people who make me unhappy, and no negativity. It is hard enough being an artist, I don’t criticize myself while I’m there either. Get out of the habit of trashing your work. Don’t do it, either silently to yourself or to others. Ask instead, “Where is the weakest part of this composition?” You can ask others what they see but don’t tell them you are unhappy with it. I keep my iffy ones for a while, if I can’t make them better; I trash them. I don’t want them to hold me to an unhappy place. Once I have learned what I can from them, they go.

Throwing out the clutter from my studio helps me feel accomplished, any organism that is healthy creates waste. A full garbage-can tells me that on some level somewhere, I’m getting things done. Besides, looking at tidy studio makes me feel like a grownup.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.