Over the course of the summer, I’ve been slowly going through & cleaning my house out. I know it sounds a bit melodramatic, but when you’re going to use where you live as the same place for where you’re going to paint, you have two options:
1. Live in chaos, knowing that everything will possibly have turpentine & small flecks of paint on it.
2. Clean out everything that you don’t need and clean the whole house so as to keep the painting separate from non-painting things.
I chose option #2.
This began with rearranging my entire apartment to move my computer & other freelance materials out of my living room & turning my bedroom into an office. Where did my bed go, you might ask? Well, luckily for me, my apartment has this odd little alcove that is literally exactly the size of a queen size bed, so my bed is now in its own little cave. I had moved it out in the vague idea of having a “grown-up” bedroom, but all that really happened was that with a whole room dedicated to my bed, I just…slept more. Not very productive. So moving the bed was the first step.
Next was to clean my office materials up & out. I can’t even tell you how much paper I threw out. I did filing, billing, ditched paper samples that I’ll never use because let’s face it, I just don’t do that much print design anymore, filed back portfolio samples – you name it, I finally got around to doing it. I do need to eventually get a new filing cabinet, though – I’ll admit that went on the Acquisitions List.
Bookshelves – oy, the bookshelves. Not as bad as it could have been, since I did a book purge a couple months back, thus making the West Hollywood library about five paper Trader Joe’s bags richer in paperbacks, but still – I’ve pretty much parsed myself down to the bare bones of what I just can’t live without. Moved the bookcase to the office and sat down to separate out Read, Unread, and the books that I want to write about here. Crapsticks, I have a lot of reading to do to get caught up.
Back closet – my apartment has a lot of closets. To the point where I don’t actually have a dresser because I just got some shelving & canvas drawers & turned one of the closets into my dresser, and I still have one empty closet that is empty & used solely to hang up clothes that can’t go in the dryer. But I’ve also got this other closet in the back that is just…where I’d been tossing everything. When Kate came to stay with me at the beginning of August, I think she was a little surprised when she brought her violin, & I said, “Oh, hold on – you can try these when you’re here if you want”, then walked back to the closet & pulled out two violins that I have but never get a chance to practice on anymore. (I know, that’s just further down the list. Financial stabiility first, then maybe returning to lessons)
On the day I cleaned out the closet, I asked Kate just stand there & take things that I handed to her. Paintings, drawings, canvases that I hadn’t used yet, rubbermaid bins of pieces I’d thrown on the wheel in high school, all sorts of things — and I didn’t even take out the collapsed drafting table or Zoey’s carrier from when we flew her out here seven & a half years ago. (Hey, we got that thing for $20, and they are expensive brand new. The large dog owners in the room are siding with me on the fact that I’ve kept it, trust me.) Kate did seem particularly amused by the fact that I got bored my senior year of high school & started throwing goblets & Winnie the Pooh jars. (What? Like I said, I was bored.)
Finally, Kate skedaddled for a few days to attend a wedding back home, and I began The Great Clean. Now that most of the world was picked up & put away, I started cleaning the actual apartment. The bedroom, the office, the bathroom, the kitchen – I even cleaned the fridge out, and organized it, which considering that both Kate & I have been eating mostly out of the incredibly cheap produce offered by the string of Russian groceries in my neighborhood, was truly a job of work, lemme tell ya. Everything’s clean, but I still need to get a covered container for produce that doesn’t go in the fridge, & containers for my flour, sugar, etc so I don’t have to keep them in the freezer.
The result? My apartment is finally at a place where I can begin actual painting and not lose my mind to mess or the ravages of chemical exposure.
Fun fact: Most of the artists that went crazy Back In The Day didn’t lose their sh*t due to actually having been crazy, but because no one back then knew that ingesting lead & other charming art materials will cause brain damage. This brings us to a very key piece of advice for artists – do not put the end of your paintbrush in your mouth if you’d like to avoid early onset dementia. Just a tip.
So yes. it only took about two months of working on things on & off, but I can paint again. Yay Team Me! Now I just need to actually, ya know… paint.