Sunday, March 22, 2015

Messy or Organized?

There is a theory which states that disorder promotes creativity.

From LifeHacker:
Recently, a study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that people with a messy desk were more prone to creativity and risk taking, while people at cleaner desks tended to follow strict rules and were less likely to try new things or take risks. Dr. Vohs and her co-authors conclude in the study, "Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights."
There are many proponents of disorder leading to creativity, like A.A. Milne, the creator of Winnie the Pooh: “One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”

Or Albert Einstein:  “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,” he said, “then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

There is the opposite of course in being too organized.  The person who spends all their time reading books about art technique, buying supplies and organizing papers or paints in alphabetical order can be at risk of becoming frozen by process and never actually creating art.  Of course, I do like order, but when it comes to my studio, disorder often reigns.  There  are paints all over the place, pencils, pens, palette knife, watercolour sets, containers of water, name it.  But I know just where everything is!  And I know its close to hand when an idea strikes.  Finding the perfect balance between mess and organization is a fine line to not let one overtake the other.

Its a bit like doing ironing for me.  I don't mind ironing, but the thought of getting out the iron, setting up the board, hauling the basket of clothes to the utility room, ironing, folding, putting away, etc. makes me procrastinate.   Its similar when all my painting or drawing tools are put away neatly.   I may want to paint something, but the thought of finding the colours, setting up the palette, priming the canvas, etc. etc. can sometimes make me put it off. 

I think I could happily create in a four foot space with everything at hand.  I believe that is what keeps my studio in disorder - the ability to just "do" at a moment's notice without having to think much about it.  So is that lazy or creative?  If other creatives before me and within my peer groups accept that and acknowledge that they do the same, I'm happy with it.  Unfortunately, society loves to label those who do not conform to certain standards. Two-thirds of people feel guilty about their messiness.  Half judge others who they see as disorganized or messy. Which is why not many people ever get to see inside my working studio.

The sketch at the top of this post shows what was in front of me on the table that houses my computer in my studio on  March 21st.  Believe me, you don't want to see what's behind me.  The contents haven't changed much in a day, aside from moving some tools around for use.

Okay, confession time.  Are you organized or messy?  I promise I won't judge.


RH Carpenter said...

Like you, I have things all over my art room and not many things actually filed or put away (because there is no room for that). So, I can reach out and grab any tool or material easily because I know where it is - but someone coming into my little space would think, "How can you find anything in here?" I would really like to have the space the storage unit to put away all my photos and sketches and tracings in a nice place instead of stack them one on top of another until I cannot find what's at the bottom!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Rhonda, its good to have things at hand but others don't understand that and see chaos.

I had shelves built to house my sketches and full size papers. Same issue as you. They're there, but without hauling everything out, difficult to find things.

I need an apprentice ;)

Stephanie Berry said...

So maybe I shouldn't feel guilty about having a messy studio? But I've worked hard to be organized on the computer where I keep records of inventory, sales, etc. My excuse is I'll organize/clean up when I retire.

Dora cooper said...

I go from one extreme to the other it seems. While I'm working, organized confusion reigns but if I'm switching over to another medium, I usually like to start fresh so I clean up and do it all again. Not sure what that says about me but it works so I'm okay with it. lol

theartistsday said...

Ah Jeanette, a woman after my own heart!
I love chaos ( I also love your picture) but for me I let chaos build to a crescendo and there's so much stuff I've got nowhere to put another thing down, and then bam! I have to have a blitz, and everything is tidy again, and I feel righteous and it all starts over again.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

I never iron :p

I do need to tidy up a bit here, starting to trip over stuff but I like organized chaos :p and I actually keep forgetting what supplies I actually have and end up buying more :p

Jeanette Jobson said...

Stephanie, that day never comes. Retirement or cleaning up - from art anyway. :)

Dora, I like the fresh start but never seem to manage it. Until I can't walk across the studio floor, then I know its time.

Mary, that's about my version too. Looking around the studio now I know I have to tackle it in the next day or two as I have a new easel coming that will need space. Yikes!

I used to Jen. Sometimes I do, but not so much anymore. Wrinkles are fashionable right? Or I just shove the clothes back in the dryer to make them sort of presentable.

Chaos. I don't know to embrace or reject it.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i think the grunge look is coming back so wrinkles work well :p

debwardart said...

I'm with Albert Einstein - chaos reigns!

Karen Batista said...

Good Article! I have been having the worst time finding a high quality Disney painting!

barbara macaskill said...

I am one of the super organized but the items I use regularly are on my work island, close at hand in an organized way. I know exactly where everything is and can put my fingers on it at a moments notice.
Hubby did not believe me so he went online and wrote down a list of crafty things that he thought I might have in my craft room. He then came in while I was creating and kept asking me for different things. I did not know what he was doing but got him the requested items. He told me afterward that he was "testing" me to see if I really knew where things were without having to hunt for them. I laughed at him and told him that I was going to "test" him on his RC and hunting stuff to see if he could do the same. He told me he couldn't begin to do the same. I think I know better where it all is because I keep an eye on where he places things so that when he is searching for them I can tell him where they are! LOL
I don't judge those who have messy work areas because I realize that we all work better in different atmospheres!
In a way, I actually envy those who can work amongst chaos.

Sue Pownall said...

I'm organised but not obsessively putting everything away. I also like to have everything close to hand.