Art Experiences

Posts Tagged ‘minimalism

It’s that time of year when everyone is cleaning. Yard sales abound. There’s a lot more stuff out for bulk trash week. When Spring arrives, we just want to declutter. Even I (kind of) want to do it!

I’ve never been very good at cleaning, organizing, filing or getting rid of stuff. A creative mind often doesn’t want to focus on left brain activities. However I do really like to be able to find things when I need them, not have things spill out at me when I open a closet and live in a reasonably sanitary environment. I try to keep these likes in mind while attempting to create order in my life, home and studio.

For a few months now I have been reading about the trend towards minimalism. Most people who are attracted to this lifestyle concept want to have less stuff to store and clean. They want to lead a simpler, less stressed life by engaging in calming, uncluttered surroundings. I personally like the idea of simplifying my life; who couldn’t use a bit of space, both in our cabinets and in our consciousness? One of the most well known minimalist bloggers, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame, defines minimalism as eliminating the unnecessary to make room for the important. In theory this sounds great. Get rid of stuff you don’t love. Live with stuff you really love or really need. Get rid of commitments you don’t want to do. Say yes when it matters.

I LOVE art supplies. And I have a lot of them. I love shopping for art supplies, even though I hate shopping. I keep a lot of stuff just in case I need it. But this appears to go against all that minimalism espouses. How can I gain all the advantages of peace, harmony and organizational bliss while keeping all my stuff? Can artists be minimalists? Is there even a way to apply the principles of minimalism to art supplies?

I am going through all my supplies and evaluating how often I use them, which I think will give me an idea how important that item is. I have found a lot of things other people may not even consider art supplies, but when you teach creativity, everything is game! We make prints from bubble wrap and rope, we paint with hair combs and cotton balls and we make sculptures from toilet paper rolls and old machine parts. It’s going to be tough for me to throw out anything I think I could ever possibly use.

So far I haven’t had much trouble getting rid of several bags of clothes, bikes my kids outgrew years ago and dozens of extra cups cluttering up the kitchen cabinets. So I am on a roll of sorts. But art supplies seem sacred to me, I feel like I need them all. They’re art. They’re creative potential just waiting to be shaped. I just know a project will come along where I will want all those styrofoam balls. None of my art supplies seem¬†unnecessary.

Maybe I will just organize it all into pretty containers. Maybe I will just get rid of a few really old things. Maybe I will scale back and get rid of half of the toilet paper rolls, glitter containers and paper scraps. It’s a conundrum, and something I will continue to consider.


Hi! I'm Susan Stein and of my many passions in life,
two of my biggest are art and children. In the process of teaching children art, I also teach them problem solving, brainstorming, inventive thinking, originality, working with others, hand eye coordination, and so much more. It doesn't matter if you're good at drawing or not, everyone will benefit from experiencing art.

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