This has been a slight conundrum: How can one marry the philosophy of Minimalism with the chaos (and heaps of junk) that have always, for me, defined what a creative space is and what an artist needs? Isn’t this creative freedom?
Recently, however, being influenced by my mindfulness practice and even my daughter’s Montessori education, this dilemma seems like less of a problem. Things are not as they seem. In fact, we may have been tricked or confused by society into thinking that artists are certain types of bohemian, care-free, muddled, cluttered people. Yet, this may not be true. Or at least not the whole story. (How could you be care-free when you are weighed down?)
The Montessori method of education teaches children to work on one thing at a time. It teaches them to focus and to finish problems and then move on. There is structure. A lot of structure, yet, this structure is precisely what gives them freedom. They choose freely what they want to work on, yet they are encouraged to stay focussed without interruption. They work within a prepared environment. Everything has its place. You work on a project and put it away before starting the next one. It is a fascinating way of viewing education and life. Our little three year old is thriving.
In other words: it encourages Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi‘s concept of Flow. This is definitely something I experience when creating artworks or dolls or any kind of handwork. Everybody experiences this state of being completely focussed, alert, motivated and losing one’s sense of self and time in a task or experience. This could be anything from a sport to reading or solving mathematical equations.
What Mindfulness and the Montessori method have taught me (unlike all the years of ‘traditional schooling’) is how to focus and create a mindset and space which encourages flow. When you have a clear, structured space and mindset that sense of freedom and creativity are easier to achieve. A fascinating read is Daily Rituals: How Artists Work written by Mason Currey. This book was such an eye opener to me. Most creative people do have structure in their daily lives. They thrive on it.
What Minimalism is starting to create for me is a space to be more creative in. A space that is clearer. Not one with the blank canvas/ blank page effect but one in which I have exactly what I need to do the task at hand. No clutter. Just enough. I have found that when I limit my palette I am much more engaged. Suddenly you have to be much more creative because you need to use what you have in new and interesting ways. So: All the ‘just incase’ or ‘this could become a…’ objects need to be removed from my space.
I have to be honest here: I have not started working on my studio yet. It has taken me some time to come to this realisation. I have been afraid of it. But I have started sorting through my crafting things. The upcycling and repurposing movement is very inspirational. I plan to only use what I have to create my dolls. Until I run out of essentials. Anything I do not use needs to move on and everything else needs to be used up. Sometimes you need a box before you can think out of it.
Another aspect to this is that I feel guilty because some potential projects are never touched and I keep moving with boxes of junk that could become works of art. This is also a way of purging that heavy guilt. Work on one thing at a time, no guilt involved.
So this coming week will mean starting a very big mission of minimising and simplifying my creative spaces, preparing my environment and hopefully freeing myself. Let’s see how it goes 😉