A Good Habit Gone Bad

Hello again, kind readers! Nice to see you here.

If you've been tuning in for the past few weeks, you know that I'm making some shifts in my personal life and my business. I wrote about a Ten-Year Cleanse that actually involves neither lemon juice nor a blender, and yet it's still very healthy. Then some sales happened: first a studio-clearing yard sale (another to come, because I really only scratched the surface), followed last weekend by a Fun Fine Art & Whimsical Crafts Sale, or FFA&WCS, an acronym that definitely will not stick.

Don't Worry: I'm Allergic to the Hard Sell

I broke out in hives around the time of last weekend's sale for no apparent diet- or cosmetic-related reason, so I can only conclude that my introverted body was freaking out about two straight weeks of Sell! Sell! Sell! Red itchy spots on my wrists and face—my skin always tells me when enough is enough. So you can rest assured that the big message of these blog posts going forward will NOT be to continually sell you stuff. I don't have the physical constitution for it.

But How IS the Fund-Raising Going, You Ask??

 fund-raising thermometer shows our progress

fund-raising thermometer shows our progress

Glad you asked. We're making good progress toward our mural-making trip this June. Last weekend's sales were deceptively successful. Very slow at times, traffic-wise (read: I sat alone for hours at a stretch, wondering why I was doing this), but in the end much value was exchanged. Those who braved the storms were rewarded with great loot at bargain prices, and I ended the weekend $550 closer to our goal. Not bad, right? (If you want to contribute but haven't wanted to buy stuff, a GoFundMe campaign will be quietly launched soon. I'll whisper the details in an upcoming post, so as not to irritate my skin.)

Now, back to the Cleanse. I've done several of the food-related type over the past few years, and I recommend them. They serve, as one friend noted, to "make sure you're not addicted to anything." Yes, exactly! Like sugar. Alcohol. Caffeine. Collecting art supplies. That's definitely a part of it.

Coming Clean About My Addiction: a Good Habit Gone Bad

Here's the truth: I've absolutely loved being the person-who-can-supply-anyone-with-anything-they-need, and also the keep-it-out-of-the-landfill-because-someone-can-use-it-for-something-gal. Whatever materials the kids need for a school project, I have. A giant piece of cardboard? No problem. Glitter? Yes.

Same goes for my art students, young and old. Want wiggly eyes for your sculpture? Sure. A picture of a cheetah? In that file over there. A small purple tile? Third shelf. Cut your finger? Got a band-aid right here. Need a piece of yarn? tape? wire? wood? elastic? felt? thread? rope? denim? Looking for a screwdriver? marker? pliers? ruler? yardstick? Dremel? sander? saw? glue stick? Crazy Glue? Gorilla Glue? glue dots? glue tape? glue gun? GooGone? Got 'em all. And I'm actually organized enough to know where they are.

That means I can quickly see that the screwdriver drawer had (before the recent yard sale) about 25 flathead screw drivers, because those are separated from the Phillips head screwdrivers by a divider. Which begs the question: Who needs 25 flathead screw drivers??

The problem with having a place for everything is that when more new everythings come in the door, they can just go straight to that place with their thing-mates. Then pretty soon you have 32 rulers, 19 half-used accounting ledgers, and 9 large bins of scrap fabric, organized by type (cotton knit/felt & wool/you get the idea). And when you walk into your studio, instead of being inspired to sit down and create, you are immobilized and overwhelmed. Suffocated by your own stuff.

So one new habit I'm adopting is NOT LETTING NEW THINGS IN THE DOOR. (Or not very many of them, at least.) If you've been one of my happy donors-of-odds-and-ends, I've loved our connection, so don't take it personally. And I can refer you to some local places that would be happy to have that stuff that you would have offered to me. Thanks again for everything. I probably used a whole bunch of whatever it was, and I'm sure some other art enthusiasts in my studio or a local classroom appreciated it too. :) But I've got to stem the tide, for my own creative health. I hope you understand.

Starting a Fresh New Habit That's Painfully Obvious

 Letting yourself play = taking art seriously.

Letting yourself play = taking art seriously.

I've also decided to take myself seriously as an artist. Some of us need more convincing than others, but now that I've led—and been paid as a professional for—over 40 public mural projects, and completed about that same number of classroom stints as a Visiting Artist, and sold about that many paintings, and offered my handmade wares at about that many craft fairs, and taught about that many art classes in my studio... I'm finally convinced that I actually am an artist. And therefore I can and should actually devote a part of each day to—guess what?—practicing art!

Doing my own art has always seemed like such a frivolity. A luxury. A guilty pleasure. Something I could allow myself to do only after all the "real" work was taken care of, or maybe on weekends. Well, guess what, Dummy? This IS your real work! You're a frickin' professional artist, so make it a priority! That's my new mantra (expletives optional), and my new routine. Since January I've been starting nearly each day working on a frivolous project of my very own. (Artwork for a client doesn't qualify.) Most often it's a doodle, which, by the way, counts as "art."

 Doodling with a sewing machine.

Doodling with a sewing machine.

Sometimes it's a sewing project, which can also be a doodle, because I do not follow patterns. When my garage-studio warms up a bit, it might be painting, or messing around with collage images.

It's hard to explain why it's taken me this long to legitimize my own art-making (I've got some theories), but I'll bet I'm not alone. And I say Better Late Than Never!

What Gear is Hidden in Your Closet?

What about YOU? What habits are you trying to break—or trying to break in? Are your long-term goals reflected in how you spend your days now? Is there something you wish you could do more of, but struggle to give yourself permission? Do you, like so many of us, "not have time" to dig out the watercolor set buried in the box at the bottom of the closet, yet somehow spend hours each day lost in the email-Google vortex, and binge-watching House of Cards? I know. I get it. I do it too.

I'm busy concocting ways to get more of us out of our routine and into the sketchbook, or better yet, to make going to the sketchbook The New Routine. If this piques your interest, you'll want to stay tuned...