THE POWER OF LIMITATIONS
Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees
When I first started reading CST months ago, it started me on a more or less continual purging, not only of my studio, but throughout my home. This month, I returned to the studio because at long last I have an opportunity to make it into a proper work space, rather than a former bedroom which is just full of my stash and stuff. This has involved packing everything up to be moved out of the room while it is painted and refurnished. This means that I have looked at each thing in there and made a conscious decision whether I want to keep it...because it needs to be worth sorting and packing up, and eventually I’ll have to find a place for it in the room again. I’m not quite done yet, but I would estimate that I’ve off-loaded perhaps a third of the total mass. It has also been an opportunity for me to really look at what I have assembled in my vast hoard, and think about what I probably will use, and how I will use it. And as I continue to do this, I feel as if I am building more of a sense of what it is I want to do with my art. I have given myself permission to limit myself to the materials, techniques and skills that interest me the most, and tomanage my tendency to be distracted (Ooooh! Sparkly!) by something new at every turn.
I’m interested at how good it feels to lighten this load of possessions, and I am pleased to report that over the months I’ve been engaged in this, I have become much more conscious and hesitant to acquire new stuff. Turns out I had a lot of neat stuff I’d forgotten about as it got buried in the layers. Letting go of things, is addictive and self-affirming. It feels like I’m creating opportunities for myself, rather than limiting them.
Air Clearing Haiku
I know it is time
to question my collection
when it hems me in.
Take it all away!
I can’t see the horizon
from behind this pile.
What does matter most,
the comfort of possessions
or a freer view?
Working with the limitations.
The timing of this project means that for some period of time, most of my materials will not be handy, and my work space will be limited to the kitchen table. I will have one new portable sewing machine, and one antique treadle available, but I’ll be having to work small with a very limited range of materials. I thought about just taking an ‘art break’ but that seems too harsh.
I’ve been doing a weekly challenge making one small (5” x 5” square) piece of art each Monday, and I currently have nine more weeks to go to complete a full year. I want to finish it, so I have decided I will only use the box of scraps and remnants from the past 43 weeks of work, which has been kept together in a smallish box. To these I’ve added a couple of cutting tools, threads, needles and pins. I intend to use only what is in that box to complete this challenge.
Mining for Content
I am definitely that person Jane describes who needs to define content. I love just playing with color and form, but the pieces I have completed that started with an idea of content are the ones I’ve felt were most successful. This exercise was really useful for me. I’m still looking at the relationships between the words I came up with during the free association exercise. There are three themes which keep bubbling up in my idea factory, so I used them as the starters for the scavenger-hunt.
Macro/Micro/Closeup Images - cell structure, blow-ups and crops, crystals, pollen, plants, lichen, wood grain, textures, listening closely, whispering, wind, raindrop, snowflakes, fractions, fractures
Dream Images - horse head in the sky, rats and wolves, blue room makeover, Ganesha rising from sea, broken flowers, Me meets Me, two yard sales, Dad comes back, my back, Baby Larry, alien rooms and houses, night shift workers, fairy tales
Natural World / Made World - rocks, geology, maps, geography, my town, topography, plan/profile, mountains, trees, water, lake, reflections, seeds, rock formations, layers, excavations, history in the layers, mining, gems, architecture, structures, engineering, threads, sewing, weaving