Clarity Through Clearity

Empty roomClean living means a lot more than just the way we eat. And, the occasional clean slate may be a very necessary thing.

Last month a gallery that took a LOT of my work for a solo show. They took so many pieces it cleared out both my home studio and my downtown studio, and left the walls bare. I was grateful for the opportunity, and very grateful I make it a habit to work in a series. Because of this habit, there was a  great deal of cohesive work that could be offered to the gallery and I was pleased with the way it was curated.

On a slightly different note, in April I took an Intensive Art Study Seminar  in Taos, New Mexico for 9 days. The instructors worked with us to “find and refine our unique artistic voice.” This endeavor requires some soul searching, serious thought and an ample dose of courage. It was a priceless gift to be given this “permission” by the teachers, who were very successful in their own artistic endeavors. Between the workshop and the bare walls, something interesting happened.

This “clearing” the rooms made room for new ideas, new work and a fresh perspective. As I began to work in the absence of “pre-Taos” pieces staring me down, I found a freeness, a daring, a joy in pushing the boundaries that had previously existed. Due to the empty space, the dynamic of my work changed. I found new energy and the daring to try some new things. 

Empty space creates room for new possibilities. (click to tweet).

I’ve long been an advocate of clearing clutter. I’ve written about the various types of clutter, physical, mental, emotion. We’ve had discussions here about “baggage” and what we drag along with us – often entire metaphorical “rooms” of things we will never use again. Hoarders get buried in their own debris, whether the clutter is emotional, physical or something entirely different (click to Tweet). I KNOW that is true, but had never seriously considered the affect my old art would have on moving forward with creating new art.

Have any of you ever experienced this? I’m feeling there should be dedicated storage Life is full of possibilities on Typewriterareas for our older work, so as we shift gears, we’re not influenced too much by the old. I’m sure it’s true for a lot of things – we could organize our neuroses, too! How about:

  • Dedicated storage for our work worries as we approach our homes after a stressful day – hang up your worries (I used to use a tree) and be present with your loved ones and family.
  • Dedicated storage for the infringing opinions of those who feel differently than we do. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts, but we don’t need to carry them with us.
  • Dedicated storage for financial records. When you’re doing all you can to achieve success…well…that’s all you can do for the time being.
  • A prominent place for goals and aspirations that is NOT stored away, but stored in front of your very eyes.
  • Dedicated storage to stow failures – so we can access the information, but put it away and use it only as “reference material.”
  • Storage for old relationships, old friends, old experiences we’ve outgrown – especially toxic ones.
  • A place that’s far away to stash the shame, since it never really serves us.

Dedicated containers for the past and the future…so we may be more present in the now.

I’m grateful for the “fresh start.” I’m grateful for the permission to seek myself so boldly. I’m grateful for the presence of mind to see how the two fit together, so I can access it again and again. 

What would you add to the storage list? On a more concrete level, do you have a place for old work? A method to move forward when forging a new direction? Share your ideas for clean living and it’s benefits below!

Now, Clean Yourself Up!



Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to Writer, Artist, Coachshare Writer, Artist, Coachtips for a well-lived life and a finely run art business…just for you!
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18 Replies to “Clarity Through Clearity”

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I love what you said about clearing your studio and finding a fresh start with your art! How fun. Congrats on the show, too!

    I was inspired by your series idea and the course you took. I want to definitely do more art and you are not the first person who suggested this idea of a series. I am not a regular artist. My work is very sporadic at best. I do knit frequently, which I love, but I don’t frequently do other forms of art that I love like drawing and collage. I am excited for this month-long experiment of no media. I would like to do more art and work on my home more. Perhaps that is what will surface? I don’t know.

    As for your dedicated storage, I disagree. I would not “store” anything negative or from the past that was not filled with loving memory. I would just rather release it. As for current financial stuff, I am working through that. Just the other day, I received some mail and actually filed it instead of throwing it in the “to file” pile. I’m improving!

    Anyways, nice to meet you.

  2. Hi Amy – thanks for reading and sharing. I’m not suggesting the negativity be stored, just the lesson. Some of life’s best lessons come with a good dose of pain. I think that’s by design – lest we forget them.

    I’ve found working in the series develops the art, the ideas and the depth of my work. There are a lot of links in this post, so you can learn more about the topics if you follow them. My first series included 50 pieces – I got to 39, so still have 11 more to go. Very, very useful. If you would like help scheduling art time, or identifying how to find the room in your life to explore your art, feel free to type key words into the search bar at the top of my site. I think you’ll find lots of resources for you. The pages, The Business of Art and The Art of Life have links to well read posts, as well. Cheers! ~Michelle

  3. Another good one Michelle. As you know I just moved and that certainly was a clearly out of my stuff including my artwork. I’m planning on moving in a different directly and I think it has a lot to do with seeing all my art in one place and deciding I wanted to do something different. So it’s now stashed in a storage area in the garage and I’m working on new pieces in my new little studio. They’ve said a clean desk means a clean mind and it’s true with art too I’m sure.

  4. First, congratulations on your show Michelle. And what a wonderful opportunity a clear studio presents. That just feels so expansive and full of creative possibilties! I love how you’re embracing this, and really appreciate the idea of a clean slate uninfluenced by older work.

    I think that’s part of the beauty of visiting other’s works and continuing to widen your perspective – for me it helps loosen things that I might be holding a bit too tightly.

    1. I suppose it would do that, too, Deborah…loosen your grip on things you cling to. I think it may become a regular practice for me…cool if that included the shows, yes? I’ll put that out to the Universe and see where it goes from there. Thank you for your comments. ~m

  5. Hi Michelle,

    Congratulations on your large show – that’s tremendous!

    As an artist, my style and focus has changed a lot. I started with doing acrylic work and still have the supplies. I have always liked photography and find that I am very creative with altered and textured photo artwork using Photoshop. I also now am trying to grow in encaustic work. My problem is time, I have a severe chronic illness and have to spend a lot of time on my bed, where it’s I can work on photo creations while resting. The time in my studio when I can do it, is spent on encaustic work. I have sold a lot of my acrylic mixed media pieces, but the ones which are left now look drab and boring to me, and really don’t have much in common with what I do now. Because I am on a tight budget, I am hesitant to sell my acrylic supplies, what if I want to pursue that area again? I have a tiny studio, and have a hard time letting go of odd things that I find – a lot of it ends up in my work. Yet I am running out of storage room! Any suggestions to help me move forward? Also, I am 66 years old, so it’s not like I have many years ahead of me to explore everything I want to do, and the limited energy makes an impact as well. Because I am housebound, I have no one to really discuss this with, and I appreciate you reading this missive!


    1. Hi Rebecca, I’m sorry to hear about your health challenges. Thank you for the congratulations on the show. The work I brought back from the show went into an overflow storage area I have. I’m showing several pieces at a new space next month, so I staged those for next week (the install) and the other work was neatly put away – out of sight of my workspace. I’m lucky to be able to do this.

      In October I’m having an archive sale. For two days, I’m inviting collectors and the public to get great finds on my archived art. You can also do this with an open studio format. Here’s the link for that: You might consider doing this with your older acrylic pieces you feel are dated, but you really don’t need to make a big deal about it, all the stops are offered in the post, but are not all necessary.

      Also, consider all your found objects you’ve collected and the likelihood of using them. You may toss or donate them, if you don’t think you’ll ever use them. You really have to be honest with yourself about your clutter. Did you read the link for de-cluttering in the blog? Feel free to peruse the site and look at archived blogs. If there’s something you are particularly interested in, you can type keywords in the search bar at the top and related topics appear – it’s like MAGIC! I hope you get a handle on your stuff and am happy you’ve found work you can do that fits your physical limitations. Be well! ~m

  6. What a great way of thinking! All great ideas. My favorite is the one of not carrying the infringing opinions of others with us! LOVE IT!

    Congratulations on your success with your gorgeous art pieces!

  7. My house is forever cluttered, no matter how much I try to fix it. Mainly because I have poeple living here who don’t help. But I am clearing some emotional clutter this year, and it’s helping a lot.

  8. Congratulations on your show! I had one this year as well and the lack of art in the studio made me also revisit the previous works and decide to give some of them up. I hope to be moving far from my present home soon, so your post is extremely timely for me. What really matters in a person’s life? I can just let go much of the past “stuff” (unwanted emotions as well) and clear the way for a spacious life. Thank you so much for this post!

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