When in Doubt, Clean Something

“Nothing happens until something moves.”
― Albert Einstein


I hate to admit this, on my third blog post no less, but I haven’t been making much art. I know, right? My studio is right in our backyard for Pete’s sake. And what about all that earnest I Won’t Let Anything Stop Me talk in my first blog post? Sigh. I really meant what I said, and my intentions remain, but putting it all into practice remains the challenge. After all, this is why I put “in pursuit of” in my tagline.

Cleanliness Leads to Artfullness

From an Art Full Life perspective, my surroundings matter. I’m inspired by the color of our walls, the art we collect, the books we own, and the dining room set we obsessively painted. Also, the more organized and clean the house is, the more energized and happier I am. A cluttered, dirty, and/or ugly space do not engender creativity.

One of my mottos has always been “when in doubt, clean something.” Not only is it forward motion when stuck, but it’s useful too! I love being organized and having a clean house. Unfortunately Mike and I are borderline hoarders (we can’t get rid of that, it’s a perfectly good piece of cardboard!) I am also domestically lazy, therefore cleanliness and organization are a challenge. This means though, that when I’m stuck in some way there are always plenty of choices for “something” to clean.

The Bookcase Project

We recently moved our collection of art books back into the house. They were in the studio, which tends to get damp, and we weren’t using them out there like we thought we would. Bringing them back into the house, however, meant reorganizing our living room to accommodate the bookcase. This, in turn, had us taking a hard look at our living room (yikes, that cat tree is really old, dirty, and trashy looking!) A couple weeks ago we brought the books and bookcase back in, bookcase replacing gross cat tree. We lived with it there for a bit, but the bookcase was not in quite the right place yet.

So, yesterday’s “hey, let’s move the bookcase today” turned into an entire day of moving not only the bookcase and books, but dusting every little piece of art and tchotchke on the shelves (and we have a lot…and I couldn’t remember the last time they were dusted. Don’t judge me.), rearranging (and dusting) all the art in our living room, and then hey, since we’re at it, we might as well make decisions on which keepsake and dollar store “kitschy” purchases (a ceramic pirana, no joke) to keep and what to give away (a long overdue task).

The Renfro-Sivak Living Room

The Bookcase Project. Before and After.

Beating Inertia

One might say the Bookcase Project was simply me procrastinating on doing art, but I have to say, this project was immensely satisfying and re-energizing. Each piece of art or trinket that I dusted and moved was seen with new eyes and appreciation. Some evoked memories. Not only was the cleaning/organizing/rearranging satisfying (and much needed), but taking another look at all the art we own was motivating and inspiring. It is a joy, now, being in this “new” room.

I’ve been reading a book that could not have appeared at a more appropriate time for me, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, about “creative living beyond fear.” Truly, it is simply eery the timing of this book in my hands, and there are now numerous sticky note tags bookmarking pages. In one section she talks about moving beyond a failure, but for me this also reinforced my cleaning motto:

“If you can’t do what you long to do, go do something else…any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.”

Take that, Inertia!

This entry was posted in Creative Life, Inspiration, Motivation.

One Comment

  1. Tina October 11, 2015 at 11:21 PM #

    I didn’t realize a bookshelf could become such an art-full thing. I have six in my house… Perhaps I will clean something!

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