About once a year the urge to engage in art studio organization hits. Critical mass has been achieved as a result of a year of plein air painting, travel and adventures. We call it The Urge to Purge.
All those paintings are stacked against shelves and on every horizontal surface available. As artists we love to surround ourselves with our paintings – they are our babies after all – but after a while, the sheer number become overwhelming and stifling. New space needs to be cleared for new work to emerge
Here is one method of cutting through the tsunami of paintings and getting relief from the clutter:
Pile #1 – for successful paintings that will be signed, glazed, photographed, framed and eventually, entered into art shows and/or sold to art lovers.
Pile #2 – for works with potential that are as yet unfinished.
Pile #3 – for most of us, this will be the biggest pile – paintings that don’t work and never will, disasters and disappointments of all sizes. Don’t get discouraged by this pile – if we are creating freely, we will have many creations that just don’t work.
Many years ago, when taking a workshop from plein air master, Michael J. Lynch, he told us that 1 in 10 paintings will be a success, and to accept that this applies to most artists. It’s a numbers game just like shooting film – therefore, get lots of small starts (they count the same as a starting a large painting).
Ideas for disposing of your Pile 3 paintings
1. Save a few in a box so that you can look back on them in future - you will see how much better you have become and feel encouraged!
2. Look for parts of each painting that could be cut out and used in a collage, or used as a smaller painting. Usually there is something good in each piece. Use an empty frame for this exercise in possibilities - it can be quite enlightening.
3. If you paint in oils or acrylics, consider resurfacing old paintings to create new painting panels. For acrylic painters, this is simple - just Gesso over the old painting and you are set.
For oil painters it is a little more complicated -
check this page on how to resurface oil panels correctly.
4. Get rid of the old paintings by cutting them up - do not throw them into the garbage bin intact - you may find these works resurfacing at a flea market or in the Goodwill Store - maybe not your intended market for your art!
After engaging in this 3 step art studio organization process you will have lots more empty space and a feeling of relief and possibility again. I try to do this exercise once a year at a minimum to keep my head above the waves. Looking at the body of work we create can be a wonderful experience - most people find it energizing and life/art affirming.
Clear the Clutter! - Tidy up the mess and make the studio an inviting place to just go in and paint.
Running Repairs – Replace that lost wing-nut on your easel, oil your palette, rub your easel down with a wax candle, stitch that backpack strap, mend that dodgy shelf or fix that wonky caster.
Treat Yourself - Perhaps to a new storage rack for paintings, a coffee machine, a pair of speakers for your MP3, pick up a small locker or a trolley to use as a taboret.
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