Gowanus Open Studios went well this year; I enjoyed greeting friends and new acquaintances into my work space. Hearing reactions to new work was interesting and since they were good reactions, a bit of a sorely needed ego stroke.
There were some interesting comments about the work and space but my favorite had to be overhearing someone tell their companion "This studio gets first prize for being the cleanest and most organized."
Funny that a comment about the studio could make me feel so giddy- but I was beaming inside and out when I heard it.
While I appreciate chaos and mess as a part of creativity and imagination, even as a child I liked to create order and a space that exudes calm. When space feels cared for, it feels safe. When the randomness of objects and placement is overwhelming and intrusive, the space indicates that things will not be OK. At the extreme, poorly cared for places hold unseen dangers- floorboards can give way underfoot, ceilings can collapse.
Growing up in rural upstate, I saw the dangers of rotting floorboards, barns torn apart by the elements, grain silos with decayed foundations, abandoned houses falling into the ground, old wells not properly covered. As a kid, every day after school was time to go exploring all of these personal treasured landmarks. The most historic and extreme of these was a place called "Wyndcliff"; a friend's relative's house which is legendary for its interesting past and the fact that to get from room to room one needed to walk across a long unsteady plank spanning the collapsed first floor.
Historic American Buildings Survey, 1979.
First floor parlor, southeast corner section seen from west, showing parlor badly damaged by elements. Wyndcliffe, Mill Road, Rhinebeck vicinity, Dutchess County, NY. Call Number HABS NY,14-RHINB.V,2-40
Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division
But as an artist, chaos (or what looks to be chaos to the outside eye) is a vital tool, and one that is integral to my work. My creative mind works in a non-linear fashion and jigsaw puzzle style problem solving is my forte. How can you see a solution until you dump all the elements out on the floor and see where they could go?
With that in mind, I think I'll relegate a clean orderly studio to the in-between times of studio visits and end-of-the day ritual straightening up. I'm careful to clean my brushes, clear off the palette and sweep the studio before leaving for the evening. That way the next morning I'm free to being to let the chaos and creativity flow again.