Living With Less

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Clicking on the tab for Up All Night Again, the thought flitted quickly across my mind, “I wonder if there are any new posts?” Er no, dear, not unless you actually bother to write them!

It reminds me of the time that I accidentally hit backspace while surfing and wound up at my own Livejournal profile page. I glanced uncomprehendingly at my own interest list and thought, “hey, this person sounds way cool, I should friend them – oh, wait a minute…” Still, I guess the fact that I instinctively liked the look of myself is probably positive.

It’s been a hectic week. My 40th birthday was on Saturday and my family threw a rather fabulous party for me complete with mountains of healthy yet delicious gluten-free food. We had about 30 people there and I was very touched that so many people, some of whom had travelled quite a distance, came to celebrate with me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have decided that I should have birthday parties more often (although probably not every year).

The chocolates are all gone and the many bunches of flowers are starting to wilt but I’m still happily playing with several of my presents, which included a pile of books, a full set of Sakura glaze pens and a very cute, tiny set of travelling watercolours with a little water brush. Art materials – the gifts that keep on giving!

New Paints

Unfortunately everything else is in flux at the moment because as soon as we got the party out of the way, I had to empty my study so that it could be decorated. I can’t think what possessed me to arrange two such major events within two days of each other. I am temporarily installed in the living room and connecting to the net through the X-Box cable. The painters finished this afternoon but I need to buy a carpet and have that fitted before I can move back in. I also need to have a rethink about where everything goes and what I need to store. Oh, and buy a new desk because this Ikea one has bowed drastically in the middle, which is rather worrying in a piece of furniture that’s holding a heavy and expensive Mac!

Continuing the decluttering and organising theme of the last few months, I’m using this an opportunity to get rid of some stuff. I’ve drastically culled my art magazine collection – I gave away about 50 of them and have another huge pile to donate to the art college where I do my jewellery course. I’ve kept the ones I still refer to but it feels wonderful to pass the rest onto people who will actually use them. And as an added bonus, it frees up a lot of storage space on my shelves. Next I have to tackle my many folders of saved articles and images.

I’ve come to understand that having too much stuff weighs me down and makes it far more difficult for me to create. I had the realisation about a month ago that it didn’t matter how many neatly labelled boxes I had, if I simply had too much to store, then my shelves and cupboards were always going to be an impenetrable mess.

So lately I’ve been tackling The Cupboard Of Doom, a huge walk-in cupboard that we’ve thoroughly filled up with stuff. I’ve been systematically clearing it out; going through boxes, throwing things out, visiting the dump, filling up our weekly recycling bins and giving away hundreds of items on freecycle.

I’ve even surprised myself by being able to give away some art and craft supplies: usually I hold onto those for dear life but sorting out my studio has helped me to see what I already have and what I no longer use. Having too many supplies can actually be a disadvantage when making art because you can suffer from a sort of mental paralysis when faced with too many options. In addition, having vast quantities of supplies makes it harder to find the things you actually want to use.

Decluttering may not seem like it has much to do with art, but it feels as though what I’m really doing is making a much bigger space in my life for my art.

I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

16 thoughts on “Living With Less

  1. Dear Kirsty,
    Thanks for the link to freecycle. I checked on the group from my town and it seems quite active and I’ll be getting involved. I have many art supplies and magazines that I would gladly pass on to other artists in need rather than toss them out.
    I’m a novice in blogging but have enjoyed following yours. Alyson Stanfield’s, http://www.artbiz.com, has encouraged viewing other blogs to learn formats and strengthen on line presence. It has truly expanded my art base and circle of art friends.
    Regards,
    Helen
    http://pineshorestudio.blogspot.com

    [Reply]

  2. Dear Kirsty,
    Thanks for the link to freecycle. I checked on the group from my town and it seems quite active and I’ll be getting involved. I have many art supplies and magazines that I would gladly pass on to other artists in need rather than toss them out.
    I’m a novice in blogging but have enjoyed following yours. Alyson Stanfield’s, http://www.artbiz.com, has encouraged viewing other blogs to learn formats and strengthen on line presence. It has truly expanded my art base and circle of art friends.
    Regards,
    Helen
    http://pineshorestudio.blogspot.com

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Helen, I’m glad you found it useful, I’m a big fan of freecycle and I’m happy to promote it when I can. Blogging is a lot of fun (and a lot of work!) but I also enjoy the links it makes between artists.

    [Reply]

  4. Hi Helen, I’m glad you found it useful, I’m a big fan of freecycle and I’m happy to promote it when I can. Blogging is a lot of fun (and a lot of work!) but I also enjoy the links it makes between artists.

    [Reply]

  5. Kirsty, This post made me laugh on two counts. I have “forgotten” I did or did not write something. I have actually been on websites and read something. As I was reading, I would think “Wow, this is pretty interesting..she has it together..!!” Then I would realize I WROTE it!!! LOL LOL LOL
    The second giggle came about cleaning out your studio. I am trying to learn this lesson now. I have too much STUFF!! My daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her NOTHING because I am drowning in my own possessions!! I tried to clean a closet the other day and found myself going back to the garbage pile over and over again rescuing stuff I wanted to throw away. (Like I need a ratty pink sweatshirt that is ten years old despite having 2 or 3 newer pink sweatshirts??) I have to let it GO!! Besides, I really do believe you have to keep the energy moving. Things go out, new things come to you. I am TRYING to put this philosophy into action!
    Have a happy holiday!!!
    :-)
    Sheree Rensel
    wizzlewolf.com

    [Reply]

  6. Kirsty, This post made me laugh on two counts. I have “forgotten” I did or did not write something. I have actually been on websites and read something. As I was reading, I would think “Wow, this is pretty interesting..she has it together..!!” Then I would realize I WROTE it!!! LOL LOL LOL
    The second giggle came about cleaning out your studio. I am trying to learn this lesson now. I have too much STUFF!! My daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her NOTHING because I am drowning in my own possessions!! I tried to clean a closet the other day and found myself going back to the garbage pile over and over again rescuing stuff I wanted to throw away. (Like I need a ratty pink sweatshirt that is ten years old despite having 2 or 3 newer pink sweatshirts??) I have to let it GO!! Besides, I really do believe you have to keep the energy moving. Things go out, new things come to you. I am TRYING to put this philosophy into action!
    Have a happy holiday!!!
    :-)
    Sheree Rensel
    wizzlewolf.com

    [Reply]

  7. Does turning 40 also mean one has to finally deal with all the stuff we have pushed aside over the years? I only ask because I turn the same age in a couple weeks! :-) As much as I hate clutter and unused stuff – I hate dealing with it also!

    [Reply]

  8. Does turning 40 also mean one has to finally deal with all the stuff we have pushed aside over the years? I only ask because I turn the same age in a couple weeks! :-) As much as I hate clutter and unused stuff – I hate dealing with it also!

    [Reply]

  9. Maybe you should have asked for storage boxes, Sheree!

    I just discovered a company called The Really Useful Box Company and I’ve started using some of their boxes and insert trays for my most frequently used art kit. They are transparent, come in lots of different sizes and the lids snap shut and lock, which is very useful when I need to move stuff from the studio to the bedroom where I do most of my journalling. If I hadn’t already invested heavily in stackable Ikea boxes with lids, I’d switch completely but most of my stuff is already boxed up.

    [Reply]

  10. Maybe you should have asked for storage boxes, Sheree!

    I just discovered a company called The Really Useful Box Company and I’ve started using some of their boxes and insert trays for my most frequently used art kit. They are transparent, come in lots of different sizes and the lids snap shut and lock, which is very useful when I need to move stuff from the studio to the bedroom where I do most of my journalling. If I hadn’t already invested heavily in stackable Ikea boxes with lids, I’d switch completely but most of my stuff is already boxed up.

    [Reply]

  11. Well I don’t think it’s compulsory, Mark but yeah, I think there’s something about turning 40 that brings this sort of stuff up.

    I go through phases where I can’t be bothered to deal with the clutter and the things I’m procrastinating on (that’s how they end up that way in the first place!) and then I’ll get a bee in my bonnet and tackle it head on until I run out of steam and then go back to ignoring it. My word for this year is ‘balance’ though, so perhaps I can find a less on/off way to deal with it.

    [Reply]

  12. Well I don’t think it’s compulsory, Mark but yeah, I think there’s something about turning 40 that brings this sort of stuff up.

    I go through phases where I can’t be bothered to deal with the clutter and the things I’m procrastinating on (that’s how they end up that way in the first place!) and then I’ll get a bee in my bonnet and tackle it head on until I run out of steam and then go back to ignoring it. My word for this year is ‘balance’ though, so perhaps I can find a less on/off way to deal with it.

    [Reply]

  13. Kirsty, Oh no!! I am an organization freak. I have all kinds of storage boxes. I even label everything including the drawers on my tool box! That is why I know it is time to DELETE. I don’t even have room for anymore storage boxes!! LOL LOL
    You are correct about clearing out stuff to make room for “new energy”. I just fear the minute I start clearing out found objects from my studio, I will need them sooner or later. However, I should be thankful. At least I can walk around my house and studio. Have you ever seen those pack rat people with piles of stuff all over everything. Geesh! I am not that bad!! :-)

    [Reply]

  14. Kirsty, Oh no!! I am an organization freak. I have all kinds of storage boxes. I even label everything including the drawers on my tool box! That is why I know it is time to DELETE. I don’t even have room for anymore storage boxes!! LOL LOL
    You are correct about clearing out stuff to make room for “new energy”. I just fear the minute I start clearing out found objects from my studio, I will need them sooner or later. However, I should be thankful. At least I can walk around my house and studio. Have you ever seen those pack rat people with piles of stuff all over everything. Geesh! I am not that bad!! :-)

    [Reply]

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