|Does clutter cause confusion when you get ready to paint or draw?|
When I meet artists learning how to paint at a painting workshop or at an art convention, they often comment that I must be a highly organized person. Upon hearing this, I laugh inwardly and reply, “I'm organized in my thoughts but not with my stuff.” That goes especially for my painting supplies and artworks.
Although to-do lists help me get things done, I often either lose the list or get sidetracked and forget to refer back to it. For years, I've been following the advice of organization gurus through their books and online articles, but during the last six months, I've made a discovery: I've been following the advice of left-brained organization experts who are most likely well-organized to begin with. I employ a right-brained approach for nearly everything I do. In other words, I'm visually oriented. You as a painter or draftsman might be too.
Since my mind tends to organize itself by what my eyes see, it makes sense that if I enter an art studio that's filled with clutter–oil painting art, drawing supplies, brushes, canvases, easels–I'm less likely to begin working anytime soon. If my references and tools were set up and in order, I'd clearly see what the next step is, and I'd walk over to my painting easel and get to work. On the other hand, if I've got piles of papers and dirty brushes scattered, my sight can't visually land on what to work on. When this is the case, it requires me to spend my first hour in the studio organizing my stuff while ignoring my artistic muse. Often, I run out of energy before I even get started on my painting.
Clutter causes confusion, confusion leads to stress, stress can develop into avoidance, and avoidance often results in procrastination. Yes, I have seen artists who work in a mire of clutter yet work productively, but I suspect that either their clutter is highly organized or else they can block out everything but the painting they're working on. I'm not that efficient at blocking out my surroundings.
I work most efficiently when my studio is neat and my supplies are clean and set out where I can see them. When I set up my references and supplies the night before, I can enter the studio and know exactly what the next step of my work process is. I feel relaxed, inspired, and ready for work.
What about you? How do you beat the clutter in your art world?