This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art. She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...." For ten years, Luann also wrote a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.
Smaller spaces and fewer choices can mean a lot more focus.
We’ve begun the process of moving into our new rental home this month, a place we hope will give us the time we need to figure out our next move: Stay here in Sonoma County? Move somewhere else in California? Move somewhere else altogether??
All big decisions, but the one racking my brain today is, “Should I let go of this? Should I sell it? Or give it away?? Or maybe I should keep it! Maybe someday I’ll….”
The trouble with working in lots of different media is, we create a life filled with those words, words that can create joy, or simply create more problems. “Maybe someday….”
It’s good to have dreams. But not all dreams can be followed, at least not all at the same time.
I have a short ton of rubber stamps. “I used to do a lot of mail art. It was fun! Maybe someday I’ll do it again!” The chances of that are pretty slim, but now I have another “dream” thread: “Maybe someday I’ll have grandkids, and they’ll want to play with rubber stamps!”
I took a woodblock printing class a few years ago, and loved it. And then, through the magic of Ebay, I acquired a lot of woodcutting tools. “Maybe someday I’ll get back to it!”
Thinking I would never find more antique wood boxes in California, I brought every single one I could lay my hands on in New Hampshire. Now I realize I could never use them all in my lifetime. Nor in several other people’s lifetimes….
I’m looking at so many of my oh-so-cool metal storage pieces. (I have an actual file used to store autopsy slides. No actual slides, though, thank goodness!) They are wonderful! But I’m also thinking how heavy they are, and bulky, and how most of them are not really efficient storage.
The most frustrating thing is not knowing how to decide, what to keep and what to let go of, what to sell and what to give away, what to sell something for, and where to sell it.
"Sewing machine #4 has gotta go."
But the hardest thing of all was realizing that no matter what I decide, how I decide, when I decide, there is an odd blessing in this downsizing. Because I’m realizing at this stage of my life, I’m probably NOT going to live in a bigger house someday.
We’re probably not going to have a big yard anymore.
I’m probably never going to own my own horse.
And I’m not going to pursue every single path of interest in my art career.
This has not brought the sadness I expected. There’s a certain joy to it. The realization that my life, my time, my energy, my ‘footprint’ is going to continue to get smaller, not bigger--This is not a bad thing. In many ways, it’s a relief.
We want to spend our time doing things we love: Creating and making new work. Spending time with friends, whether the new neighbors across the street, or old friends back in New Hampshire. Spending time with our kids (who would both cringe at my use of the word ‘kid’!)
As to the dream of a big house, a big studio, we’ve had that. I’ve learned that whatever space I’m given, I fill it. A bigger space would mean me filling it with more and more stuff.
The big yard? Google a YouTube video called “F*** this house!” where a guy with a hyooge Jersey accent laments how all his free time is spent mowing, weeding, raking, watering his large property. This is where we’re at. If we were true gardeners, it would be different. But years ago, I realized that I like to decorate with plants. Jon simply likes homegrown tomatoes, and doesn’t mind if someone else grows them. So now we’re down to a weedwhacker, not a mower.
The new rental may have less house space, and a smaller studio space. But, miracle of miracles, it has two gi-normous porches, perfect for socializing outside with friends in the gentle California climate. And there’s even a small shed where I can store the stuff I’m almost ready to let go of, until after the move itself is over.
"I'm guessing this is the least messy this new space will ever look."
I don’t mean to suggest that life as we know it is on the wane. We’re way too young for that!! (Haha.) But it IS about focus: Deciding on what, where, and how we really want to spend our time.
Maybe I’ll keep a few of my favorite stamps. And the woodcutting tools don’t take up much space, for now. I’ve made some good money selling the cool metal files. I’ve already sold and given away a lot of art supplies I know I’ll never use.
This little house, our new home, is teaching us something important. About art, and life, love, and friendship.
And I am listening really, really hard to what it’s telling me.
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