I recently moved myself and my family into a new space – both literally and figuratively. One of the myriad reasons for moving was my desire to free up some time-space for things I want to do. One of those things is art.
After the relative ease of placing bookshelves and beds and couches, I am now getting to the stragglers of unpacking, much of which are art supplies. Materials: I have them. Baskets and boxes full. Paper, canvas pad, fixative, tape… tins and brushes. Giant, thick paper with unfinished edges, ready for me to swipe chalk or charcoal across with my whole arm, oil paints enticing me with their names: vermillion, cerulean, burnt umber.
Today, a Saturday, I have suddenly decided it’s time to put them away; no, to organize them. For use. I completed round three of student-work purging; sketch books half full of assignments from classes five years old, filled with information I have long since internalized. I no longer need to reference the definitions for pointillism or hue or value. In five short years the printouts that my instructor required have faded, and I’m helpless before the information to find meaning beyond sentimentality. Goodbye.
I kept some work – student work that I like, a portrait of my son that he loves, some paintings I began and never intend to finish. It’s stashed safely under my bed, awaiting the next purge.
And then, taking inventory of my supplies and materials. What do I have? Everything I need. Too much, even! What shall I do?
I’ve been hoarding materials for the day I be able to make some art worthy of something more than the sentimental space beneath my bed. I’ve thought about my process. I’ve studied and learned and asked questions. I’ve examined pieces I like, and analyzed artwork for otherwise unrelated classes, and spent my free time around artists.
Today, I realized that creating art isn’t just a process, it’s a practice. There is no arrival; for me, art is not a means to an end of artistic worth. It’s a practice. So what shall I do?
I’m going to use up those materials.