I have been thinking a lot this morning about what it would be like to loose everything. My heart aches for the people who lost their homes due to fire recently. It is easy to take for granted the fact that I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. Everything could so easily vanish in the blink of an eye. I cringe to think about all of the family heirlooms, the precious mementos and family photographs that were lost in the California wildfires.
It makes me look around at the things that matter the most to me, and the things I could live with out. It is amazing to think about how many things I have acquired in just 8 years. In 2010, I packed my youth up in boxes, stored it in my parent’s garage and left to travel cross country with nothing but camping gear and a few paint supplies. I had no intention of moving cross country, only to travel for the summer and come back to all of my things in a few months. I ended up settling in a furnished apartment in down town Seattle with a clean slate. Sure, my mother mailed a few of my things, but mostly all of my worldly possessions fit in a few bags and could be neatly tucked into the trunk of a tiny Mazda.
An Honest Inventory
8 years later, after going to school, moving 3 times and re-locating to Oregon, I still have very little compared to the average person. Yet my home feels stuffed with things. (Mostly it is because 80% of my home is a studio shared with another artist). I had an idea at the beginning of this year, that I would slowly chip away at de-cluttering my home. I discovered a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. The principals of this book have become a popular topic of conversation all over the internet in the past few years. In a nut shell, Marie talks about the relationship we have with the things we own and surround ourselves with. She suggests dividing every little thing you own into categories and then holding each thing in your hands and really contemplating whether or not it sparks joy within you. If it doesn’t, discard it. She suggests spending up to 6 months working through each category slowly. When completed, you should be left with only things that you love.
I noticed all the random things that I have bought or kept over the years that have become invisible. They just float around from place to place, filling drawers, occupying table space, etc. Once I discarded the things that didn’t matter to me, I felt lighter and now appreciate the things I own a lot more. The useful things work hard to aid me in daily tasks, while the not so practical things I surround myself with, serve a different kind of purpose.
The Use of Beauty
There are things that we can own that have no purpose other than the fact that they are beautiful. Most people own at least one or two things that they keep just because they like having it around them or they like looking at it. Beauty is an underestimated thing in today’s consumer world. Cities used to be built around the premise of beauty in order to uplift a society and bring people to a higher mental and spiritual state. Nowadays it is common to build fast and cheap with little or no consideration of beauty or permanence. Things used to be built to last, now it seems a lot of things are built to be replaced.
The reason I love art is because it is something hand made by a person who spent years honing their skills. A piece of art is a result of every experience that person has had in their life that enabled them to have the foresight to create a particular piece. Not to mention the larger scale of the development of art throughout the centuries, and the skills that have been passed down from generation to generation of artists. But if you don’t care about any of that, or haven’t learned much about art history, just simply being moved by a painting that was made by someone who has worked really hard on developing their skills enough to make that painting a reality. Just like each human life, a painting is a miracle. It took specific circumstances to line up perfectly for that piece of art to be made. And it is impossible for it to ever be perfectly replicated meaning it is completely one of a kind. Had Leonardo Da Vinci died of the plague early in his life, the world would not have the Mona Lisa or any of his other masterpieces. There is a reason we house great works of art in Museums and why they sell for jaw dropping prices. Because beauty matters.
Seek beauty out
I urge you to take a look at the things that surround you in your home, and think about all the little useless things you have bought and discarded over the years, as well as some of the big purchases you made on things that haven’t lasted very long. Many people shy away from buying original art and can’t seem to justify dropping big money on something that doesn’t have practical use. It depends on what matters to you. I believe in surrounding myself with a minimal amount of things that I truly love, find meaningful, and am proud of. I urge you to go look at art in museums and pay attention to what pieces you feel drawn to. Ask yourself why it is you are drawn to a particular piece and then learn about the artist. Seek artists in your community or online and follow their social accounts. Familiarize yourself with what makes good art, and buy original art! I am not just trying to convince you to buy my art, (though I wish you would!) I honestly believe everyone should be able to enjoy having original artwork in their home, and there are so many amazing artists who need the support, so that they can continue bringing beautiful art into the world.
I have been meaning to start a blog for some time now, in order to share my thoughts, the things i am interested in, and some tips I’ve learned making a life as a full time artist a reality, in the hopes that my readers might find a little inspiration and get to know me better. I have held off for a while now, waiting for the right time when I can afford to upgrade my site, or when I have more work, etc. I decided that it is silly to wait, when I have thoughts to share now. After a year of teaching, I am able to recognize these things as fear. When we become obsessed with reasons to not start something, that usually means we are afraid to take the plunge. So, here I am, making the plunge. I plan on posting weekly on Sundays. Be sure to subscribe to be one of the first to read them, with your Sunday coffee.