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Friday, June 1, 2012

Are You a Neat Freak or do You Thrive in Organized Clutter?


"Kelly's Rose" oil on board 12x16


I used to pride myself on being organized. I had to be with six children! I prepared meal plans so I wouldn’t have to think about “what’s for dinner?” A monthly meal plan gave me an edge. Shopping smart and planning ahead kept our meals on time and within budget.


Over time, I did give up on having our home look like “Better Homes and Gardens.” I learned to tolerate a lived in look; cleaning only once a week. I ignored what happened in between because I valued my time, and it was impossible for me to do anything more.

I became an avid list maker. I found that once I put it on a list, I could forget about it. The worry and the guilt were “out of sight and out of mind.” It cleared my head. I looked at my list at the start of each day and checked off my priorities. No worry. No fuss.

"Hibiscus Glory" Oil on 16x20 canvas  SOLD

Of course, there was always the unexpected pushing some items to another day. For the most part, these lists kept me in line. I took classes, I was a free-lance writer, and I was active in my church and community. I have found over the years that too much neatness can kill creativity
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I’m not knocking organization. I’m just saying that organized clutter, for me, is the best way to manage stress and to meet deadlines. Take my desk. It’s never clean. There are small piles (organized piles) everywhere. Each one represents a different project. When someone comes to visit, I arrange the piles in orderly fashion, but they stay! Like fingertip files, I know where to look when I need something.

"Jack's Roses" oil on canvas  SOLD

My guest room/art room is the same way. I have organized piles on the bed, in the closet, and behind the door. The difference between the desk and my art room is that everything disappears and is moved to another area for the duration of guests when necessary.

My palette is no different. To another painter, it may seem sloppy and disorganized. But to me, I know exactly what I need and want at any given moment. When I use acrylics, I put out only the paint I think I’ll need for a specific purpose or it dries out. With oils, I’ll put out more paint. I don’t organize my palette as well as some artists do. I place light colors on one side and medium to dark on the other; that's it.

By the time I’m through painting for the day, there is no definition left, anyway.  I mix and match. I take swipes of different colors, mixing on the canvas when appropriate. I have watched other artists paint; their “neatness” is amazing. Their clothing or cover-ups, their arms and faces are clean. During their painting session, they wipe their palette of residue and to separate piles of paint. Neat. Neat. Neat.

"He Lives"  oil on 16x20 wrapped canvas

When I’m through painting, I may have splotches of color on my nose, my arm, and my clothes.  I lose myself in painting. My imagination soars when I’m unfettered by rules and restrictions from the “how to” experts.

Some people may see a big mess, a desk in disarray or an unworkable palette. I see organized clutter ready to be turned into something magnificent and memorable.