My name is Marissa and I am an art supply hoarder. Often hoarding my best supplies because I don't feel good enough to use it. This problem is especially strong when it comes to paper. As a printmaker and now a watercolor painter paper is my canvas and my most expensive single supply. And unlike canvas I can't simply gesso over failures and try again. With prints and with watercolor I am stuck with whatever I make the first time. No more hoarding my good paper. I will use my watercolor paper blocks every day and break myself out of my sketchbooks and out of my rut. My first block or a Arches is on its way but I need to use up this before I'm allowed to use it.
What distracts you from your most important work? What is your time suck? An activity that you pretend is productive but is really just a time wasting time suck. I need to spend some time working on art today in my studio. Often when I am going through a growth period I step back from my sketchbook and focus on shopping for materials. The quest for the perfect materials that will make me a better artist. When really the time to work on art is what matters. The time I spend looking and buying supplies is often a time suck waste. Especially at this point when I pretty much have everything I need. Instead of looking for the perfect colors, the perfect sketchbook or the perfect brush I should draw and paint more. I draw and paint everyday, but if I have time to browse art supplies online I am not drawing or painting enough. Back to painting for me!
Spent some time on Saturday wandering around Fenway by myself so of course I stopped by my favorite Thai restaurant for lunch. Being home with my two children full time over the summer is a lot of fun but it is also exhausting and it is important that I take time to be by myself whenever possible. So my husband Jon took the girls on a hike at Drumlin Farm and I headed to the Dick Blick in Fenway. While I did not end up buying much, being able to shop and then getting lunch at my own pace and not having to manage other human beings was such a welcome break. I left the weekend feeling ready for another week with my little girls.
Good morning and happy Monday. Hope everybody had a great weekend. Mine was pretty phenomenal, the perfect mix of activity, time with family, time alone, time in nature and studio time. Bike ride and sailing on Friday night, ICA with my eldest, followed by Figment Boston and a long walk all over the city, food trucks and friends, then a jog and a rainy Sunday spent in the studio. Doesn't get much better than that. With summer I don't get a lot of uninterrupted time and space to just be in my art studio and experiment. Yesterday was one of those glorious and rare days where I got to spend hours in quiet drawing, painting and experimenting. It all started with a jog to clear my head and get my brain going. I came home filled with new and different ideas and ready to begin executing them. Well, ready after a shower. During that time I set up my little paint pallet with the colors that I use the most and made a little strip of paper with them for reference. I have a fancy set of 48 colors that is gorgeous and wonderful to play around with but I feel I do better with fewer colors most of the time. Now I have 22 colors plus sparkly gold and silver in a handy and portable case. They won't travel with me except on special occasions, I have my Pocket Pallet or Altoid set for daily painting out of the house. But they may come with me on vacation or if I decide to spend a day alone in Arboretum.
It was the summer of 2004 that I took the printmaking class that changed me. I went into the Mass Art class taught by Annie Silverman an inactive printmaker that had been into lithography in art school but didn't have many prospects of printing in that medium post-graduation. I left that class obsessed with woodblock printmaking and saving up for a still expensive but totally doable printing press designed for relief, intaglio, collagraph, monotypes and pretty much every printmaking type except for the stone lithography I studied at school. Nearly ten years of carving and printing these blocks of wood and I don't miss lithography much at all. These years of printing has led to a lot of carved images and I have my favorites. The advantages of wood for carving is that it is durable, keeps for nearly forever and is easy to store. Woodblock printing is still my favorite method of making art and it is the one that I always come back to.
An important lesson I have gotten from my child is how important play actually is. Sometimes when I am working with her I find myself getting a bit rule driven, controlling and focused on "not messing up" that I have to force myself to step back and let her be the playful person that she does so well. In this case it was letting her paint a smiley face with black paint in the pink paint even though inside my head I was screaming about the dark color contaminating the light color. And really it was okay. No lasting damage and the moment of happiness and pure joy was totally worth the little bit of mess. Yesterday was 60 degree weather here in Boston so I let myself go out and play in the sunshine with my kids instead of getting inky in my studio. Brought my sketchbook and didn't even use it. Most everything is replaceable except for time and these moments.
For the past year or two I have been on a slow journey with minimalism. My free time is very limited so it can be difficult to have big purges but I do what I can whenever I have a free moment along the way. Just getting rid of a few items a week on a regular basis can make a huge difference over time. Then I spend less time cleaning and organizing and more time working and having fun with my family. Our main focus with minimalism is to not accumulate more items without careful consideration. Slowing down the consumption and going without has made a big difference. For our family it is all about finding what each member likes best and uses most and focusing on those items and getting rid of and avoiding the rest.
This philosophy of finding out what I enjoy working with as an artist and getting rid of the extra can be challenging to implement. Living a life of minimalism as an artist offers some special challenges. It is all too easy to collect and hoard various art supplies and justify it saying that it could be just what I need for some later project so I have to keep it around. My small studio starts to fill up with junk rather quickly and then when I need to do work I find it challenging. Now I purge supplies and donate them to my daughter's school on a regular basis. I figure they can put the random art supplies that I have collected over the years to better use than I can. And I still have plenty of materials to draw inspiration from and use in various projects, but without the clutter. Messy does not work very well in a small space.
Sewing machine I am looking at you and giving you the stink eye.