Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creatives are Hoarders

Pencil box. Photograph by Tim IrvingPencil Box

The idea that all you need to draw is a sheet of paper and a pencil is rubbish. I've been in the loft this morning sorting through boxes of art supplies, I could open a shop with the stock I've collected.

I remember an art teacher saying "to be a proficient watercolor painter, be prepared to waste a lot of paper". That statement must have hit a nerve with me because not only have I wasted reams of perfectly good paper in the past but I've also hoaded a vast amount to be wasted in the future.

There are boxes of paint up there to keep the paper company. Dozens of tubes, oil, acrylic and watercolor, some old and going hard, others new, un-used and also going hard.
There are four pencil boxes (why?), in each pencil box there are pencil holders. A pencil holder is a nice object to have and one pencil holder could last a lifetime, but I have four. I remember shopping in an art supplies store after a life drawing session when I bought a pencil holder together with a supply of paper and a few brushes. A fellow scribbler who attended the same session bought a dozen, telling me "they're difficult to get in Brighton".

Pencil holder. Photograph by Tim IrvingPencil Holder

I won't bore you with the rest of the paraphernalia, rolls of canvas, forests of brushes and hundreds of odd things like Ox Gall. Disposing of the stuff is un-thinkable. I suppose I could leave a request that when I die my friends and relatives should smear my un-used paint over my corpse and roll me over a large canvas, nice idea!

Of course it's the same with photography. I have loads of cameras, a freezer full of film and boxes and bottles of chemicals all over the house.

I'm comforted in the knowledge that I'm not alone in hoarding stuff. Every creative person I know suffers to a greater or lesser degree from the same affliction. Is it paranoia that supplies will dry up? Possibly, but in my case I like to have materials/cameras at hand for future projects. The notion that I couldn't ceate something because I lacked the tools or materials would keep me awake at night.


  1. Oh, sigh. Isn't it wonderful? Think about how you feel in a cold, pristine studio as opposed to one bubbling with tools of the trade and the scars of creativity. Though my internal tendency is to overorganize, I really feel most at ease surrounded by the jumbled warmth of my creative goodies. I battle constantly with myself to achieve a good balance of having things somewhat orderly and at hand without sterilizing myself out of the "zone." And yes, letting any of it go is unthinkable. As soon as you do, you'll need it.

    p.s. "chuckle, chuckle" at the idea of using you to make a big mono print. Like a giant rubber stamp! My neighbor used to have two prints he made using a freshly caught fish.

  2. Likewise Tim I have an 18 foot shed which is supposed to be my print room full stuff that one day may be needed, I guess its an insecurity thing or are we just being frugal?.



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