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Spring Cleaning

I desperately need to do some spring cleaning. I got out the boards today to cut the mats for Rosendal's Orangerie -- just going to concentrate first on getting the big mats cut and the big painting properly framed, doing the small ones will be easier smaller projects. The big one's got to be done right and it's also the only one so big I have to bring the boards downstairs to cut them.


Once I have the pieces, cutting an 11" x 14" mat is nothing, that can be done on the floor in here and would only take a day, maybe I could do two or three small ones on the same day if it's a good day. But in two days I have found the mat cutter heads after a long search, gotten the boards out and marked up the outer 20" x 24" panels on all three boards.

Next, I need to take the painting down from the safe high place I stashed it, measure it exactly to its crop marks when it's probably an unusual size in inches. Charlotte Herczfeld is Swedish and lives on the metric system, so the size she used is metric. She has clear crop marks around it though, so I won't try to float it -- the crop is important to the final look and composition. There's quite a bit of pastel that goes around the edges so I know part of the crop is an artistic decision of hers.

Once I have the dimensions, I'll mark up the inner windows of both mat layers, the outer layer 1/4" wider all the way around. Then take the honking big 30" x 40" boards downstairs with a big chunk of corrugated cardboard to protect the floor, and start cutting out the pieces. The foam board has to be cut twice because it's so thick, even with the straight cutting head set to its deepest cut.

When I took down the stuff to make room on top of the bookcase to stash the painting in its safe packaging foam board and glassine, I found incredibly thick dust up there. I had to clean off a paper cutter, two rulers, some canvases, a bunch of stuff and my self portrait mirror that I'd shoved out of the way up there.

My bookcases and the tops of all the books are dusty. Everything is dusty. Even the HEPA filter hasn't prevented that, because the house's dust filters got clogged a couple of months ago and no one noticed for a while till Karl changed them on schedule. I have a dust allergy. So this is another limit to how much cleaning up I can do in one go -- everything is so dusty that cleaning up everything on one shelf is enough for a day, even with taking Claritin to knock it down.

Cat hair is a significant component, but that by itself doesn't set off my allergies. Otherwise I'd be choking every time I rub my face in his fuzzy cheeks and back, which I do often. I'm very glad it's just the dust I'm allergic to!

What I really want is to finish all the framing on art that I bought, then use the rest of the frames on my own artwork choosing the best of it. I reframed the still life with teapot that I did in Charlie's class, using a Spectrum frame instead of the little document frame it was in -- it looks nicer and I still like the black mat on it. I'd like to do the same thing with my portrait of Ari and replace the mat with an archival mat instead of the normal Crescent mat it's in.

But using up all the frames will do one other thing -- it will get them out of the stack in the middle of the floor and onto the walls where I don't have to walk around them. There's an awful lot of stuff accumulating on the floor. Some of it is because I need to keep it in reach and too much stuff accumulated on my table.

Some of it is because I don't have enough places to put it and have filled all my shelves. The closet is packed solid -- but the closet is packed solid in a bad way and also has a lot of empty cardboard boxes I was saving because they're for storing specific things or are good for repacking when we move again. This house is temporary, we are renting and will need to move in at least a year or so as the kids get bigger.

So I've been unpacked but only semi-unpacked and I also need to reorganize and finish unpacking what's up here. When I get at the closet I also want to get rid of a lot of things. I know there's junk in there. I know there's also a few crafts things from projects I wanted to do and don't have the space to use here. If I can get everything sorted out well enough, I may even be able to rearrange the movable pieces of furniture well enough to set up my easel again.

I miss being able to use my convertible easel. I hesitate to set it up downstairs because kids and dogs would bang into it, batter it and so on. There isn't a good place to put it in the living room or computer alcove, though there's a kid easel already set up there. What I might do is accept that and put my good easel into the closet until we do move again. That would free up some space to put one of the small shelving units and that'd extend places to put books and supply stacks. They're shabby old things, wobbly and fragile, but they're shelving and once stuffed full are pretty solid.

Right now all of them are mostly empty inside the closet except one that I've been using to stack my pants in. That's just crazy -- there's actual space in that closet to store things, but it's full of boxes, half of them empty and half of them stuffed with deep storage stuff. So if I sort all the deep storage stuff and actually get that back down to the garage, maybe I can turn the shelving in the closet into a place to put some of my art supplies and books. Depending on how it's arranged, if I keep the floor of the closet empty and the clothes off to one side, I could actually get at what's stored in the closet easily.

And that would mean being able to get the big boards and portfolios safely into the back of the closet in a way they're pretty easy to get out on the infrequent but important occasions I need to cut mats or get out a full sheet of some paper.

I have two zippered portfolios and a cheap red wallet portfolio. Both of the zippered ones are stuffed full with an indiscriminate mixture of full sheets of art paper, half boards of mat board and random mat scrap, and larger than fits in my display book artwork. This too is crazy. I bought the red wallet portfolio to have more "big boards and paper" storage. So since it's cheap and sturdy, why not use that for all the normal Crescent boards and mat board scrap that's still useful sketching materials and casual matting?

Then keep only the archival board scrap together in one of the nice ones. I should still mark "archival" on every piece of the $10 boards because they are suitable for doing serious art on, primed or otherwise. Crescent normal matboard will fade if it's hung, it's good for sketches and preliminaries if I'm not intending to preserve them.

I'm slowly switching over to the good archival boards completely. But I can't bear to just toss out all of the pieces I had before, and it'd take quite a bit to accumulate that much in archival mat board. If nothing else, the old Crescent boards would still work as packing material for shipping some types of art -- it's not permanent and not going to murder the paper with acid in the course of a few days in the mail.

Actually, that's a good idea for what to use it for. I know I send people artworks now and then, that way I'll use it up and not waste it. But I think it does need to be kept separately. It's also okay for quick sketches that I'm not intending to keep.

I have done more in the past half dozen days than I did all month in February. It feels like that anyway. The weather reached the sixties and I'm starting to feel more like I'm in Arkansas than in Kansas. I think I will have a longer functional season here, even if autumn is no longer the good season.

Cleaning up this room and reorganizing all my stuff, getting rid of everything I don't want to keep is a massive project. I might be at it for a couple of months doing it at my speed. But if I'm patient about it, I could have everything ready for Plein Air Season by the time it's green and beautiful out and the wonderful wildflovers of Arkansas are blooming.

This year I'm going out to paint from life and my plein air sketches will be much more powerful and effective. If I can come home to a clean room/studio, so much the better!
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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