Time to clean up the studio

My favourite day on Play School was Monday. In my child-like view, it was television at its best because Monday was Useful Box Day when the presenters pulled random objects from a large cane basket and made something with them. I can hear the creak of the lid as it opens. I’m showing my age.

Other people can track their childhood by sporting events. I think of the memorable things I’ve made, and even those never finished!

So, when my family saw this house online they were quick to point out the enclosed veradah: “That would make a great studio!”

Today, I stood in the doorway and looked at the red mess left by summer’s dust storms. It was time to tackle this room. I’d saved the second hardest for second last. The shed down the back will have the ultimate honour.

But after a brief start with the broom, I decided to shift into big picture mode. That’s not art terminology. It’s from the world of business and management. Time to think strategically because just removing these layers of dirt won’t be enough to get me back on track.

What does a studio need? It’s needs a supply cupboard, a work space and somewhere to put works-in-progress.

My studio? There are supplies everywhere. Even the work space has been co-opted.

My studio is an over-sized version of the Play School Useful Box. Looking across it today, I realised it contains an array of randomly acquired supplies, either for ‘just in case’ or a particular idea that hasn’t yet happened.

This tendency harks back to the day I moved out of home at age 17. I headed off to the big city with three suitcases. They were a matched set that neatly packed inside each other for convenient storage. They were enough to contain essentials but not enough for additional creative supplies. I still wanted to make things and now, out on my own, trying to make my way in the world (as was the norm at that age in the 1970s), I had no spare cash to purchase supplies when the mood struck.

That sense of ‘being without’ meant that, over the years, I would collect assorted useful items for making stuff, random items that seemed incredibly interesting at the time. I would be prepared for when the mood struck.

Now, I’ve known for years that my productivity is linked to my ability to organise, and I’m actually very good at organising. It is deeply satisfying.

But that lesson learnt as a child – that random items can be turned into something delightful – is still with me. The pendulum swings between two competing needs, to prepare and to be organised.

So, what’s the alternative? Back to the idea of strategic thinking. Time to ask the critical question: What am I preparing for?

  1. List what I actually want to make. I’m old enough to know what I enjoy doing, and this is my Year of Less Distractions; let’s get some focus happening.
  2. List the supplies I need for only those things. Sounds good on paper but when one of those things is collage then unfortunately anything that can be glued to a board is potentially useful.
  3. Decide on the limits of the storage area. That’s easy, and it will then dictate how much can be stored.
  4. Set up the work space.
  5. Set up an area for works-in-progress. Time to get rid of any projects that have gone stale. This is about a fresh start.
  6. Sort the supplies. Oh dear … you didn’t hear the inaudible groan that emanated from somewhere deep within; I felt muscles clench in dread.

That seems a decent plan, except there is another step between 3 and 4. Clean off that layer of red dirt.

It’s back to the original task set for today. No more procrastinating, no matter how productive it might have felt.

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