An Artist’s Footprint

It has long weighed on my mind that I, as an artist, have a pretty heavy footprint in this world.  What I mean by that, is all the STUFF I carry around with me (and will leave behind when I’m gone) on this planet which enables me to draw, paint, collage, knit, crochet and sew.  Gheesh! I mean really!! Does any one person truly NEED all this gunk?

Well, in the moment, yes.  In the moment when I’m seized with love for pastels, then I need all the gazillion gorgeous sticks of color and all the different papers for pastels, and an easel to paint on, and one for taking outside.  Then, when I’m dreaming of large acrylics on canvas, then I need all my heavy body acrylics and the big easel and the big brushes and palette knives.  And when I’m dying to knit up a sweater for Maddie, or booties for a friend’s baby…then I need all that luscious yarn to choose from and all sizes of needles and crochet hooks in order to do the job just so.  Or when I want to make another satchel for my ukulele, or make Maddie a pump case, then I need all the fabrics, trims, threads, buttons, zippers, sewing machine and everything else necessary for working with fabric.  If I have a fit to collage with yummy papers, then I need to drag them all out, with scissors, glues, supports in hand.  Oi! What’s a girl to do?????

For the most part, what I do on a regular basis, is sit down with one sketchbook, three fine liner pens and I JUST DRAW.  That’s all.  Love it, love it, will prolly ne’er stop doing it! Then I might add a splash of watercolor which requires my small paint palette, a brush or two, a toothbrush (for tiny spatters) a bucket of water, and an old towel to blot with.  C’est tout!  Sometimes the temptation to TOSS OUT EVERYTHING ELSE is really big!

What would it be like to be an artist without all the hefty paraphenalia? Would I be content? Would I just begin accumulating these things all over again when the itch to create in any one of the other sorts of creative activities grabs me? Could I be disciplined enough to create within “supply restrictions”? Or would it just be a cruel, self-inflicted, artistic fast? I once read of an artist who sold all of his easels, paints, big brushes, etc. and pared down to ONLY a sketchbook, pens, watercolors, a brush or two, his portable stool and chair, and felt wonderfully free and content.  Wow. And then there’s the intriguing story of Dan Price…the hobo artist, as he’s been dubbed, who was a prolific photographer with all the cameras, lenses, photographs etc. of a successful photographer’s career and who traded it all in for just his sketchbook, pens, watercolors.  He also traded in a life in the burbs for a life as a hobbit, literally.  Would I have to become a hobbit in order to leave a smaller footprint?

Hmmm…please share any thoughts you may have on this footprint we, as creative people, have in the world, and how to make it smaller and lighter??  The space UNDER my art desk is stacked with several easels, papers, boxes of info from past shows, sales, etc.  The space ON TOP of the desk is filled with yarn projects, ukuleles, music, art projects.  I also have a drawing table that you saw in the background of the previous drawing which is filled UNDER as well as ON TOP.  There are piles of framed paintings and canvases in a closet upstairs and archival boxes under our bed filled with drawings and paintings UN-framed.  Bins of yarn are stashed on top of shelves in our bedroom and in a cabinet. Fabrics are stowed in bins in the attic as well as in cabinets. Oh, and the books! Art books, knitting books, crochet books! Oh my!

Perhaps I’ll start by drawing ALL the places where STUFF is located…it would at least make for interesting drawings!

0 thoughts on “An Artist’s Footprint

  1. Timaree says:

    Well, I actually did get rid of some of my stuff. I realized finally that I don’t like getting my hands too messy so I gathered my messy stuff like Fimo clay and mosaic supplies, paper clay and so on, and gave it to my grandkids. I also got rid of 2/3- 3/4 of all my books as once read, I seldom went back into them. I don’t like copying projects so all those books were taking up space. I tried to keep the really best reference ones and most of the others went to the library and some to my daughter. I got rid of most of my crochet books and threads keeping just some yarns and my hooks.

    After that I ran out of steam. I think I got rid of some pens I’d like to be playing with right now but overall I am satisfied. I have my paints and knitting and beads. Those are what I do the most of. And for the most part I am happier. I always want to try everything but that’s about it. But when it comes to my core interests I feel like if I want to indulge it should be okay now.

    I WAS feeling overwhelmed by my supplies which is why I got rid of some. I really should get rid of more and probably will in another year or so. I couldn’t find anything anymore! It was more of a burden having everything. If you saw my room right now you’d think I still have gobs of stuff and you’d be right. And it is hard to say I don’t need every new pen or brush or paint or colored pencil every blogger/artist goes on about. I think we have to figure out how much time we have to do everything we have supplies for and how much do we want to really do it ALL. Also, I was finding I was doubling and tripling up on stuff as I’d forgotten just what I had at times and some things were going bad on me. Paints were hardening in their plastic bottles or tubes, glues were drying up and so on. I realized I was actually wasting some of the stuff.

    Do I wish there were a local supply house where all the artists in the area could share? Yes. That to me, would be the ideal way to try the things I only want to do on occasion.

    Well, this is my story. Believe me, I am not suffering from any loss of supplies. I still have more than I could use for the rest of my life!

  2. Sues Scott says:

    I’m working on cleaning out, so far mostly art books. Soon oil paint, as I’ll never use them with my asthma, but I love the smell so hard to let go of those. Probably when I unearth them they are dry, not such a great loss then. Fewer stuff does feel lighter & much better.

  3. Michael says:

    While I do think we should be mindful of how much stuff we have and how we use it, I also think we have a responsibility to our communities to create. All of the instruments, paints, cameras, dance clothes, are tools that allow us to create art, much in the same way hammers, nails, and wood allow carpenters to build. In fact, each item is a product of another set of tools, which are themselves products of yet another set of tools. Our art is a tool to constructing windows into imagination, emotion, and even the soul. The human need for beauty is not as urgent as the need for shelter, but it is a need just the same. Not everyone is an artist, musician, dancer, photographer, so we must use (and in many cases reuse) the tools we acquire as good stewards for the good of the soul and the world.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Wonderful thoughts Michael…thank you for taking the time to write them. It is certainly an encouragement to me. But I have always envied musicians, like yourself, who surely have several instruments, but when they create music, there isn’t a “carbon” footprint, such as a canvas, a framed painting, a sculpture that then needs to be stored once it has been exhibited, displayed, etc. Even when you write music, it seems you just have the paper on which it was written. It seems that I am drawn (no pun intended:) to all the arts which require lots of stuff AND leave behind tangible stuff. But perhaps, since that is my calling, as you say, I must submit to the calling’s ephemera as well. Thanks!

  4. nancy t says:

    I’m right there with you! 2 trunks filled with fat quarters for quilting projects; yarn; papers, pencils (colored, watercolor, pastel, graphite), acrylics, watercolors, inks, charcoal, pastels, sewing machine, punches, books, brushes, pins, needles of all sorts, sewing machine, substrates, plus all the mixed media stuff and book making stuff …. what oh what to do with it all. Love it! That’s what I do. ….. except when it makes me crazy. lol

  5. raenassketchbook says:

    Well, I don’t have as many different interests as you, but I have gotten rid of all my art supplies several times in the past, out of frustration, and regretted it very much when I had to go and purchase it all again because I got the itch to create again. I don’t tend to worry so much about my ‘carbon footprint’. My neighbor, who constantly frets about the environment, puts out six cans of trash for every one of mine. I’m not a typical consumer in that I don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’. The stuff i do need is art supplies. And while it may produce a painting here and there, I’d rather think of people getting enjoyment out of it rather than it killing a bird or some other horrible idea.

    We’ve been having lots of wildfires here in Texas and do you know what goes through my mind? Maybe I should have a box put together of all my favorite art supplies. Why? Because I can justify buying clothes and furniture and things like that, but I know that art supplies would be the last to get replaced! My husband laughed and said, well, maybe we could add just a few more things to your box!

    Love the drawing!

  6. Hazel says:

    Wow, I thought you’d been in my house! I have managed to find homes for some things, the grade school art supplies that were left from teaching years ago and some really huge canvas stretcher bars, kiln furniture that didn’t go with the kiln…stuff I will never use. but yeah, I tried getting rid and also ended up re0buying, Better to just keep it since you never know when the urge will strike. And if you live in the out-lands, as I do, there isn’t any handy place to buy more. That’s both the good and the bad!
    But the really hard part for me is the big boxes of really good drawings and paintings that will never bee seen or used or enjoyed but that I can’t bring myself to toss. That hurts.
    So… make it orderly if you’re lucky enough to have that knack, Otherwise, live with it and your heirs can have a big Artist’s Studio Sale when you’re gone.

  7. jenpedwards says:

    Ha! Love it, Hazel! I’m with you on the part where really wonderful drawings and paintings are languishing under beds and in closets. It is truly sad. But I love your last bit of advice…to live with it and let my kids have a big ole sale one day! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment!

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