A Clean(er) Slate

I cleaned up & reorganized my studio last week, after realizing that it had fallen into quite a state of disarray, which was certainly not helping my ongoing quest for clarity of mind. The biggest thing I did was put up a new bookshelf for my collection of art books, which previously had been on a storage shelf too high up to reach. So if I managed to take a book down, it was then going to just kick around on the floor because there was no easy way to put it away again. I also gave in and purchased a stepladder, so that I can actually access the higher shelf now without risking life and limb. Before . . .

Maintaining the studio in clean working order goes a long, long way towards my happiness when I’m in there, but eventually it inevitably starts to slip and slide down the long, cluttered slope to being a filth-pit again. I’m trying to be vigilant.

After

I always feel so much better when my surroundings are orderly, although maintaining any organizational system for long has never been my strong suit. Dave and I did a pretty big clean of our house this past weekend, and it's so much nicer now than the relative squalor we were tolerating before. But it did eat up most of Saturday (and we didn't even get to the innards of the filing cabinets) and I was left feeling both oppressed by the tyranny of our material possessions (how did we end up with all this dumb stuff?!) and profoundly dissatisfied with the nature of our dumb stuff (I wish we had nicer furniture!).

Sometimes I wonder about painting in regards to this, i.e. what is the point of generating even more objects, to collect dust and be carted around and stuck in storage? Why should artists keep making yet more functionless objects that no one can argue the world literally needs? Which seems to lead inexorably to the thought that if the artist still for some reason feels compelled to make stuff, that the physical artefact itself is only valuable to the extent that it is a touchstone for human experience, in particular, the experience of the artist while making the work and the experience of the person looking at the finished work. And seeing as the artist has no control over the reception of their work, s/he might as well just concentrate on enjoying themselves while they're making art, because otherwise the whole endeavor is existentially absurd.