Guest Author - Maribeth Lysen
Organizing your creative space gives you room to stretch your creative muscles. It allows you to make room for the artist you are now. This is the first article in a series that will help you organize your creative space, giving you more time to create.
Begin by imagining what you want for your creative space. If you have been an artist/crafter for years think about the kind of work that interests you now. If you stated out working primarily with oil paints but have recently fallen in love with watercolor note your current passion. If you were an avid scrapbooker but now work mainly in mixed media, think about the different supplies and work area you need. Where you are now in your creative journey is what to honor. If you already have an art studio or craft room, these ideas can help you reorganize your current space.
If you are a new artist, think about where in your living space you can carve out an area to create. This can be something small like a couple of shelves in a closet or even an under-bed storage box that can be easily stored between painting sessions. Determine what is available to you and plan accordingly.
Next grab your sketchbook, notepad, or make file on your computer for your creative space. You are going to make two lists. One is of the type of work you do now and the second list is the art you are no longer interested in.
You may find that you have several items on the list of current work. This list should include anything done in the last year or two. Include any creative pursuits like writing, blogging, painting, drawing, and/or sewing. All creative pursuits go on the list. It's a good exercise to see your whole artist-self.
Once you have established your list, review the art you are actively engaged in. Ask the following questions:
Which type of art on the list are you most excited about?
What makes you happy?
What helps you relax?
What do you feel anxious about?
Is there something on the list that you don't enjoy any more?
What do you want to spend more on?
What do you want to learn more about?
Is there something you wish was on the list but isn't?
These questions will help you focus in what what is important in your space/art studio and what your goals are as an artist.
The second list can be harder to write. The work you are no longer passionate about can be a bit depressing. If you haven't touched knitting in the last five years, it might be time to let the knitting supplies go to a new home where they will be loved. This is true even if you've invested a lot of money in the supplies or you used to knit everyday. Sometimes we just move on in our artistic journey. This can be particularly difficult if you have an audience for the old work but your muse is pushing you to do something new. It is important to follow your inspiration and trust yourself.
When you get to the sorting step and you are scared to let something go, box up the unused supplies. Label the box and add a date. Call a friend and commit to donating the box if you don't open it within a timeframe. Six months to a year is a good starting point. Just like clothes, if you haven't used it in a year you probably aren't going too. The unused "stuff" is taking up valuable real estate in your creative space instead of inspiring you as an artist.
Now it is time to take a break. Go for a walk, have a cup of coffee, pet your dog, whatever suits your fancy. The goal is to keep yourself from being overwhelmed so you will continue. If you don't feel 100 percent sure of your lists or the questions you answered, sleep on it. Take a fresh look in the morning and see how you feel. Make adjustments as necessary.
Review your lists and answers before going to the next steps. Keep these in mind as you move thruough the planning stage.
Now take a few minutes and jot down how you want your creative space to function. Do you want a large area to work on big canvases? Note that on your list. Would having your paints arranged in color order make your heart sing? Note that on your list. Dream of bring clients to your studio? Write that down.
If your space is a shared space, like the dining room table, write down both functions. It is important to work with the space and resources you have. Don't let lack of space or resources keep you from creating. You are making room in your life as it is now for your artist-self thrive. Don't worry about having the perfect studio. Fancy organizing systems are lovely but unnecessary. Many artists have made fantastic art with extremely limited resources.
Next, think about the space you have, the work your passionate about, what you want to learn, and how you want your space to look. Add all this to your notes. Now the vision of your studio is really starting to emerge. Pat yourself on the back and it's time for another break.
The next steps are optional but a lot of fun and bring your new space to life. Grab your sketch book or a piece of paper and sketch out the layout for your creative space. Keep in mind everything you've written down so far. You can also create a vision board for your creative space. See my article linked below on Creating a dream board for instructions on creating a vision board.
Next week we will cover the sorting process, finding donation locations, and storage solutions.