An Artist’s Guide to Feng Shui

I recently attended an art opening of a photography exhibit. The show consisted of photographs of 41 different artist’s studios. It showed the day in the life of an artist, including all the beauty and neurosis that goes into making art. I couldn’t help but notice how many of the spaces could have used, well, some feng shui.

Of course that’s easier said than done. At times, making art and feng shui cannot coexist. In art, chaos precedes creation – chaos on the canvas and chaos in the space. Notwithstanding, there are ways to make the process less maddening and your studio more accommodating.

Artists, writers, and other creative people are notorious for collecting all types of inspirations – from nature, to paper, to paints, to pictures. But over time, enough is enough to where our stuff starts to dampen the creative process.

We all have a different standard as to what is too messy or too much clutter.  You know when your home or studio has gotten out of control.  You feel scattered, cloudy, weighed down, or creatively stuck. That’s when you know it’s time to take action.

1. Designate Space. The size of your studio space will ultimately dictate how much art and supplies you can have on hand.  When it comes to art, you can fill a warehouse space just as easy as you could fill a small corner of the kitchen.  For example, when I decided that I wanted to convert my art studio space from a whole room to a corner in order to do yoga, I had to downsize the amount of art materials I kept. So designating how much space you are willing and wanting to take up is the first step.

2. Organize. Organizing units are essential.  If you don’t already have proper storage, then these can be purchased from any art supply store.  Have proper storage and organization in your studio so that you will at least have a standard for organization and have a place for everything.  That way, when you know your space has gotten too messy for even your right-brain, you have bins and drawers to put stuff in.

3. Downsize. If you then have too much stuff to fit into your organizing units, then it’s time to downsize.  This is where the emotional aspects come into play – what to keep and what not to keep.  If you keep items for inspiration, such as photos, cards, images, etc., then go through them to see what still resonates with you.  You may be surprised how different you may feel about some of the items.  Afterall, our art evolves. Discard any items that you don’t absolutely love or that no longer inspire you.

4. Stay Current. What about your own past work?  This can be very difficult. It took me several different clearings to finally dispose of my interior design projects.  I had kept what I needed for purposes of including in a portfolio.  For boards that I knew I would never need or use again, I took pictures of them before eventually disposing of them.  It was difficult knowing how much time had gone into them.  But honestly, I haven’t missed them since.  In fact, I feel much lighter once I got rid of them.  Every time I would see them in the closet, I was subconsciously reminded of the long hours I spent on them.  I still keep a small portfolio of photos I took of my projects for nostalgia.

When your designated space for past projects gets too full, then it’s time to go through them to determine what needs to go.  For me, I periodically dispose of my pieces of art that aren’t that great, meaning that I’ve improved since then.  For pieces of art or art supplies that you no longer want, consider listing them on freecycle.org or craigslist.com.

Taking pictures of your work is a great way to track your progress without being overloaded with projects. Clearing out old projects will also make room for new ideas and creativity.  So don’t get too weighed down in your past projects.  Instead, let creativity flow through you and your studio.

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