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Spring Cleaning

I should have taken a "Before" picture.

I cleaned up my studio area before winter started, rearranged it and got all my oil pastels and pastels over here where I sit, put away most of my colored pencils sets and shifted gears to working larger in pastels and oil pastels.

Since then months of good magazines have arrived, been read, been reread, been gone through for articles or references I remember and wanted to check and stacked up to a sizable stack. I've bought more books. I've bought more art supplies. I've done a lot of the shuffling of what's on top of the stack. Dust has accumulated.

Most of all the amount of stuff right next to me in reach went over my tolerance level to the point it's disorganized again almost as badly as before the last time. Meanwhile my bookshelves are also a mess with some books that I dearly need to get at easily being in some of the most inaccessible places, while others have sat prominently where I could get at them easily but have been recently reread. I can't find anything.

Much Ado About Reorganizing in Detail under the Cut.

I've been buying Pratchett novels and they are spread out in every place in the room books are found. Not stacked up all in a row in an easy place where if I get sick I can just go through the lot of them rereading in quick succession. Same with the Stephen King novels -- all over the place.

Craft items I haven't used in several years but may eventually get into again are in easy to get places along with spares for things that get used up, while things I use constantly are buried under stacks of boxes and stacks of packaging for recycling to send out my own stuff. Even the big boxes with watercolor paper or mat board are so many that they stick out into the hallway where it's hard to get past them and even harder to look through to pick out one.

While at the same time things I would very much like to use often, like my Arches blocks, are hard to get at. Close to me but hard to get at because I have to reach around and over other stuff and under a table into a place that if it was empty and they were all that was there would be easy -- but that space got filled with tubs and things so it's several hours digging to get out an Arches block.

The real solution is going to be miserable.

I started it because I had some energy today, the weather changed and it wasn't as bad as yesterday. I got disgusted with not getting at things easily and started just pulling whole stacks out to get sorted, they are now sitting unsorted on top of the chair.

I need to take what I learned from the latest version of this organization and apply it. Treat every space that I have trouble getting into as deep storage rather than immediate-grab area and prioritize what goes into immediate-grab so that the next level is "walk across the room" rather than "dig out everything from under the side table till I get it empty and then get it out."

That means the bottom shelf of the bookcase across the room might not be the best place for magazine storage or for books I don't get at as often. It probably ought to get turned over to art supplies on that second level of priority so that I can clear things out. The tubs underneath the printer table are hard to get into because the whole tub needs to be dragged out. If I stack them somewhere easy to get at, those supplies might be easier to use.

The mat cutters need to be put somewhere permanently in immediate-grab because I cut mats often whatever medium I'm using, just like the top loaders and soft sleeves for ACEOs. Right now they keep getting put on top of a tub where they fall off. Two tubs stacked together repeatedly fall off because they're wider than the one under them and if not exactly centered, one will fall.

What I really need is more shelving or cabinets. Failing that, the tubs need to be pulled out and stacked and sorted by priority for what's in them. I might even get rid of some stuff, memorabilia and so on. Or at least stick all of that in one tub on the bottom so that if I want to go carving up all those old cards for collage supplies they're all in one "collage supplies" box. I do eventually think I'll do some collages, some of my friends are really into them, and I like most of the cards they send.

So after one burst of energy I'm now blogging it and going to start slowly doing it. My room will be a bit more ripped up for a while but if I don't blow my back trying to do it all at once like a normal person, I might succeed in doing this myself without driving everyone else crazy and driving myself crazy asking for help. It is the one thing other people can't really help with because they can't reorganize the stuff the way I would, don't understand my arm length or what is or isn't easy to get at. The times I've had someone help with this have resulted in the worst organization possible no matter how well meant, because my limits are so weird that it'd take years for anyone but me to understand them. Heck, I'm still learning what works or not.

As for priorities of what to keep or throw, what to put in easy to get places or bury in deep storage, anyone else's priorities will wind up with essentials buried in deep storage or thrown out while trivial things in the stack of "Stuff to give a student" or actual junk get prominence.


I'm seeing one thing here.

I have lived here in one place for three years. I haven't moved out of state twice a year. The pruning that goes on when I have to move, in which I usually do lose some essentials and important furniture and so on but also lose any junk at all, hasn't happened since I moved in. My pattern of life changed.

It's slow because my priorities are good on what to get or replace, but the stack of magazines shows silently what happens to housey-folk and why some wind up being accidental pack rats. Also why some avid readers get rid of paperbacks as soon as they've read them. The actual amount of junk I have is probably small compared to most housey-folk, but it's become real in just three years. The disorganization of important stuff is immense because reorganizing everything was a function of moving in -- and now that I've had three years of replacing and upgrading things I lost, some of the good things are buried under accumulation while make-do things are still easier to get at.

Aside from that logistic of places that looked easy to get into and weren't.

This month I did a book order instead of art supplies so that I would spend less and catch up on my savings again. Yay and good, I deserve the Pratchett that I just ordered and belatedly got the one that I put off because I hadn't put that savings in. But it is about time that I got my books organized and stack all the Pratchett together.

When I get a new one, I read through all of them and enjoy them again, that's my habit with Pratchett. One book isn't a month's reading. The more of them there are, the easier that is.

Anything I haven't gotten into for a year is probably deep storage stuff or logistically inaccessible but has things I really wanted to find and couldn't find. Lost things turn up in this kind of reorganizing often. Especially if they're small and got shoved in a tub during a move or previous organization spree and then that tub got buried as the bottom of a stack by size. That happened to any number of small art supplies.

At least I haven't gotten into the spendthrift habit of replacing the lost small things repeatedly and then losing them again so that a cleanup shows enough stock to open an art store. The only things I have in bulk like that were bought in bulk because they get used up: pencil sharpeners, tortillons and kneaded erasers.

I am planning on getting a good drawing table in April or May. The Alvin Craftmaster has two small drawer units with three drawers each, one on either side of the tabletop. They are only 7" x 10" drawers, but that's a good size for finding small things. Even if multiple different types of things wind up in a drawer, it's small enough one glance should find what's in it.

Oh wow. At that point all the polished stones, marbles, shells and other small still life objects could go in one or two of those drawers so that when I want to do a mini-setup, I can just DO it. Then put the little things away for the next one without losing them or having the drawer of drawing tools overstuffed with little pretty stones and things.

I am planning it. That's what will make this worth all the work involved -- it will be a whole lot of work and the only help that I can get with it is that when it's all taken apart, I can and will get Karl to vacuum my room thoroughly before putting it all back. Dust accumulates in that stack of stuff under the table.

Oh wow.

I could actually move the chair a bit closer to the table and shut down that deep storage space completely or not use it for storage. Let it become a cat hangout or whatever. That would give me the room for the version of the Craftmaster that has the side trays for pencils and small things, which could be very cool.

Aha. The Craftmaster II is four inches deeper, it would be easier to cut mats on that table. The side trays are only four inches wide. There is more leg room -- important if my chair is going to be an armchair with casters since it needs to slide under the table when I'm at it. If I do this right, the table may become my hangout spot and the best place to put it might be over here in my corner when it comes with the other armchair set out as the guest chair, so that I'm no longer typing on the top of the rolling cart.

The Craftmaster II also has four drawers on its side units, not three, and they hang outside the poles so there really is more leg room.

This could work better for the long run and noticing that pile of accumulated stuff is filling a good eight inches of space that doesn't need to have anything in it could be the answer. So the reorganizing won't be complete until the table arrives.

But I can get these things sorted first so that when I get the table it's very easy to get help -- so that it's all "this stack goes there, that box goes there" and treat it almost like a move. Maybe put away some things in sorted boxes until I get the table as if this was a move -- it'd solve some levels of the work.

Wish me luck on this. My back already hurts from that first burst.
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!


2013 Nano Winner
Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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