Over the years people can accumulate lots of things. The longer we plant our feet the more stuff we seem to collect. And now that I’ve been in Dubai for 5-6 years, I can say I have a lot of crap here. And the area in my life that I am the worst culprit of hoarding is my art supplies.

Image by SilverBlee  Is it better to start with fresh materials or should we use up those collected resources and work within those limitations?

Image by SilverBlee Is it better to start with fresh materials or should we use up those collected resources and work within those limitations?

As artist friends have left Dubai, they have gifted me with paint, brushes, canvases, you name it. Beautiful, expensive artist tools have just fallen into my lap. (Yippee!!! Christmas!!!). And while my productivity can ebb and flow, I get SO excited by art supplies: fresh, clean, new, ready to use! Sometimes I find them so beautiful in the potential they are filled with that all I want to do is look at them (Yes, I admit I have problems). Well, push has come to shove and now I have an entire IKEA Expedit filled with my artist goodies. I love it, it is a little creative haven of potential projects, started artworks and developing ideas. But, it’s also starting to take over my office/studio.

I think it was when I was watching the PBS Andy Warhol documentary that I heard something about restriction or limited resources can encourage or push an artist further in their growth. I observed that all the time in the art classroom. Students who were given full reign of their work, with no restriction, performed much worse than they did when I gave them assignments with some basic guidelines (for example, in IB Art we often open with a self-portrait assignment but do not limit students in their media selection). And when I feel stuck or inhibited creatively, often it is because there are SO MANY IDEAS out there I could investigate and work to develop. How do I possibly choose?!

As a result, I’m making a resolution to try and use only the resources I’ve collected since I moved to Dubai. I wonder how restrictive to be with this rule? If I run out of gesso, for example, that is probably worth a purchase to use the other materials. But, maybe it means I should stop painting and work on my jewelry design.

This is the work I painted over; it was more of an incomplete exercise than anything and I decided it was time to make room for the new!

This is the work I painted over; it was more of an incomplete exercise than anything and I decided it was time to make room for the new!

This also means I’m looking at my partially finished or finished artworks that are collecting dust in a storage rack. What work should I keep for posterity and which ones should I paint over? How does anyone else feel about painting over older works? I know artists like Van Gogh did because they didn’t have the money to keep buying new canvas. I have a few on my walls of my own home that are there because I just can’t bring myself to let them go yet, despite not getting gallery attention. I still see strength and merit in them and feel it honors the journey I took to create them. Maybe they just haven’t found the right buyer or call to artists yet? At the same point in time, I just gessoed over a self-portrait I did during my 52 weeks project in 2010. I have a new idea burning to get out of my head and onto a canvas and I’ve decided that is more interesting than the older work.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: How do you feel about keeping or reusing old works? Should we keep our older work for posterity or is it time to paint it all over and make room for the new? I call out to all of you to let go of those old pieces and make room for the new!

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