Doing a workshop a few years ago on working in series was the first time I witnessed the effect of limitations. It was used as a strategy for defining your style of work - analogous to the old joke "How do you carve an elephant? Chip away everything that doesn't look like an elephant." So, I worked at carving away art techniques, and their supplies, that didn't fit with me as an artist.
• Am I interested in finishing this project? ... nope. Out it goes.
• Do I want to this technique anymore? ... No. Toss.
• Maybe? Well then put it back but if it isn't touched the next time it surfaces then out it goes. (or maybe the time after that)
Disposing of those materials and unfinished projects helped to shed the load of guilt that comes from their silent accusations. It left space both mentally and physically to do art that I wanted.
I'd lost my way since that course. This week was a great reminder of the power of limitations.
I still have too many materials. Some because I can't just toss in the garbage yet haven't found who to give it to. Some because I'm just not ready to turn my back on them. To make it worse, I carted them with me across the continent last summer. Though I did take the opportunity declutter both before we left and when I was unpacking. It is a work in progress.
I struggle with, but am winning, the acquisition issue. No more throwing money at a new project. Look at what I have, replace materials used, and really question spending money on new stuff.
• Am I ready to use it NOW? No, leave it on the shelf
• Do I REALLY need it or do I have something in a box that will suffice? Usually, I have something.
• Is there a "hack" for that? Google it, there normally is and guess what? I have the supplies already.
• Would I rather spend this money on this or our future trip to Hawaii, or New Zealand or ...? The trip fund normally wins. It is very empowering to choose to walk away leaving stuff on the shelf.
So that's the clutter issue, but what about the creating issue?
Been working at that too. Doing the expanded square got me playing again. I decided that working with colour was too much for me, I wanted to work on composition and basic design so I limited myself to black and white ... ok, I admit, and the occasional colour. It has now evolved to playing with collagraph printmaking and most recently making stamps with hot glue. What fun!
Kitty Graffiti - inspired by my cat sitting at my worktable
Stamps - I like how they look and feel after printing.