(the following is a missive straight from The Artist herself. The Monsters have all gone to the lake to celebrate the wonderful summer-like weather on the prairie, since the Artist tends to keep them chained to the desk when not in use. See how she is?)
Today, while waiting for the day to start, I was reading Less H’s blog, and she posted the most awesome, inspirational thing I’ve seen in a while about the Cult of Stuff.
(Go read it if you aren’t already subscribed. It’s a good, inspirational point.)
I’ve been a little busy for any kind of public art journaling lately, myself. (I’m in several classes right now — Mondo Beyondo and Brave Girls’ Soul Restoration, to be specific, both of which are totally worth the time I’ve been spending on them, even if it means my bloggybits get a little neglected sometimes.) But while I was commenting on Less’s entry, it got me thinking about times when I’ve been the most creative, and it kind of surprised me.
About a decade ago, I had a studio.
Like, a real live studio with its own space and such. Over the course of a few years, it got filled up with a crazy amount of Stuff. We’re talking ephemera for days and more paints than one person could reasonably use in a year. (Or possibly a lifetime, depending on how much you paint.) And I made things, sure. I made a lot of things, probably. I can’t remember that many of them, but I was a relatively new artist, running a magazine at the time.
One day, I packed up and moved across the width of the country, from Southern California to the wet northlands of Seattle, with only what could fit in a car. My art Stuff wasn’t with me. All I had was an Expresso pen and a few blank journals.
In that first six months, when I really didn’t invest all that much into art supplies (Seattle was expensive, but inspiring), I think I filled something like six journals. Had to replace the pen several times, but that was fine. It measured progress for me.
Then again, when I had a Great Big Art Studio a few years back (no, really — we’re talking a 50′ x 30′ room, lined with shelves and drawers and cabinets), I had ALL THE THINGS. Mediums and an ephemera stash and fabric and a drawer full of pens and markers and another drawer full of purchased rubber stamps and all the crazy saliva-inducing Things we’d like to think we need. I think I made something like ten journal entries for a year. A few other pieces here and there. But really — nowhere NEAR the output you’d think, given the sheer metric tonnage of supplies that were at my disposal.
And again, when I boxed it all up one day, and donated it to a local school’s art program — three minivan loads-worth of donations – I had a little of that panic that I wouldn’t have My Stuff. I had my journals, and my pens, a few glu-sticks, and a pan of nice watercolors that I loved to use. That’s it. That’s all that was left.
Two and a half journals filled by the end of that year.
It’s hard to remember when you look at blogs and books that tell you over and over that if you only have the right Stuff, you TOO can make STUNNING works of ART in your journals — that the most essential of supplies is always going to be YOU. You are the catalyst. You are the one making the marks on the paper. You are the ones going through the process and documenting your lives and the inside of your beautiful brains. You. With just YOU and a piece of paper and a $.99 Bic Pen, you can do just as much as someone with all the supplies in the world.
For me, experience has taught me that the less I have, the less I have to take care of. The less I have to sift through to find that perfect bit. The less I have to organize or learn how to use.
And the more I create.
Maybe for you, that means a selection of acrylic paints and a black marker. Or a big pack of colored pencils. Or a selection of seven Sharpies and a highlighter. Or a glu-stick and a stack of magazines and a gel pen. It’s going to be different for every person, of course.
But the fact is: you don’t need anything more than what you need.
Anything over that bit is distraction and can stop you from figuring out who YOU are and what YOUR style is and can impede you in the actual expression of your creativity.
And that expression? That’s *totally* the point.
I know I talk about supplies here. I even have a category for it over there. I like to experiment with things now and again. And I’ve hit on some things that help me be more creative from time to time. I share those with you folks (when I actually update…ahem.), because you might find something that makes you throw out the old pens and draw more happily, or a digi whatsit that lets you toss a bag full of unneeded stuff at your local school’s art program.
Let me be clear, though: I’m never going to want for you to feel that you have to have one thing or another to make stuff. Because that’s going to be all up to you, sweet soul. And really…as long as it’s YOU showing up to the page, you ain’t gotta have nothin’ else.
(The entry, above, btw: from the time frame when I had nothing at all other than a pen and journal. I stole my almost-stepkid’s box of crayons to make color. Actually, she shared, but you know what I mean.)
And just in case you haven’t clicked it yet, another link to Less’s awesome Cult of Stuff entry. Read! Be inspired! Subscribe!