Tuesday, September 19, 2006

the things they carried

I can rip off Tim O'Brien, we went to the same school at different times.

I have a lot of art supplies, for a writer.

I've got a day mostly to myself here, no paid nudity or tux-wearing to do, so I'm pulling stuff together to sort, purge, and pack.

I don't often look at all my art supplies together--they're usually spread out throughout my living space, in plastic shoeboxes and fishing tackle cabinets and cigar boxes and so forth--so I'm really not aware of how much of the total volume of my stuff is comprised of paint, clay, fabric, glitter, resin, beads, yarn, paste wax, plaster bandages, varnish, decorative paper, colored inks, gluesticks, wire, ribbon, sandpaper, resin, latex, fabric dye, shiny things, sketchbooks, some strange medical-looking negatives I found lying in the street in Paris... but hay-zoos. I've been piling it up in the middle of the room so I can figure out what kind of boxes I need for it, and I'm starting to understand why my back has always given me problems. Some of this stuff I bought in high school, and I recognize much of it from my art school days. A decade ago.

What I have is too much stuff, and not enough focus. Several years ago, Slice and I spent a weekend at a retreat center up near Santa Rosa. There was a little art studio, and one night when I couldn't sleep, I went in there and mucked around with crayons and magazine pages and construction paper. I had a wonderful time, and was pleased with the results. And the whole time, I was thinking about how the limitation of the supplies was actually helping me. I made a mental note to remember that when I got home, and then of course promptly forgot.


Am I trying to reach some critical mass where it all just makes itself into something grand?

I think a moratorium on visits to Blick and Pearl Paint are in order. No matter how tempting the on-line coupons they send me, no matter how hot my discount card burns in my wallet. And no matter how comforting I find those places.