Studio Makeover Fail Update 3

post 3 clutter failWhelp, the truth is I didn’t get much done on the studio makeover challenge this week.   The once clear table is not clear now. There is art stacking up on the floor. And on chairs and stools. And on the other table.

I was busy all week: helping plan a new local to Hillsboro, OR art group and finding a location for it, a quick trip to the coast, a handful of agates to sort, a trip to the book store to pick up a single book mysteriously took half a day, dithering over a new gallery application took half a day … oh and I played around in the studio, too — including the artful mapping piece. post 3 stack on table


Might be a time management issue, might be a lack of focus issue, might be a ooooooh-shiny-object issue? Or maybe I just don’t like organizing, it’s much more fun to putter. (I’m sure there is an applicable fable about the critter who puttered and the one who worked diligently. And how one starves to death and the other has a full belly all winter.)

post 3 stack on floorI might say this is pretty typical of creative people in the throws of a creative surge where the work takes on a life of its own and the day-to-day mundane is forgotten….

Or, and I suspect this is the real reason: I am not sure what the next step should be. It’s a little overwhelming. Or is that just an excuse?

Does this sound familiar — What do you think?

Today, I can feel bad about not getting it done and avoid writing about what I didn’t do, or I can save that negative energy and apply myself to getting back on the horse. Let’s see if I can make up for lost time by next 3 stack stack on stool

Wish me luck, ‘cos apparently I need it!

Meanwhile, Jean Wilkey is refinishing walls (!) and Christine Martell is being all ingenious about hanging work in progress.

Read the original challenge.

Mapping 2014 Artfully

This post is about my experience of personal map making  (click image twice to see at largest size) as part of the Mapping 2014 Artfully blog hop set up by author and artist Jill Berry. Since I first heard of the project, I’ve wondered:

How is it even possible to make a visual map of a time you haven’t been to yet?

Bare Bones 2014 copyright Barbara Martin 2014
“Bare Bones 2014” Artist Barbara Martin Mapping 2014 Artfully project


By this week I still didn’t know the answer and time was running out. Defeated, I reconciled myself to making a haphazard and incomplete map to meet the deadline I’d committed to.

I don’t typically plan my work in detail ahead of time, so plunging forward is my usual style. I do, however, generally have at least the germ of an idea simmering somewhere in the far back of my mind.

Now, with the deadline approaching, I just had to begin where I could – with mark making — and hope for the best.

Working in ink,  I started with a broken perimeter of neatlines because I didn’t know where the edges of the map would be. Made up a snarky title, “Bare Bones 2014: This Shows Ways” which led me to the bones of a hand. Then roads. Landmarks…. I kept on drawing and labeling.

Next, I used special colored pencils. The final step was to carefully brush on water to dissolve the dry pencil into (presto!) water color paint. I love the way this methodical, slow process pops the colors.

As I touched the wet brush to each part of the map, I read the complete text in sequence for the first time. I was astonished and delighted to realize I had created  a fully illustrated and annotated “map of encouragement” for the coming year.  It includes danger zones and high points, a compass for telling time, and some “off the map” notes. There is, of course, no known scale. It does however include Courage, Muscle, Brain and Heart as well as solid ground, and it makes me smile.

I hope you enjoy it, too. Take another look, click again to make it big enough to read.


If you would like to try your hand at alternative ways and means of mapping, you might take a look at Jill Berry’s lively book, Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Map Making.

To see more maps made for the blog hop project, visit Jill Berry’s site for links to all of the participants in Mapping 2014 Artfully.

Organize the Studio Update

Yay! This week’s update on the month-long art studio makeover challenge is both disappointing and celebratory. There is still a lot to be done.  post 1 wide view





This “quick” over haul includes:

  • the landmark de-cluttering exercise of 2014;
  • the functional re-arrange of furniture whereby we can paint, glue, keyboard AND nap in comfort;
  • the massive art supplies sorting and putting away;
  • finding  storage solutions for finished work;
  • honest-to-goodness cobweb clearing/elbow-grease cleaning;
  • removing the non-art stuff that accumulated we-know-not-how;
  • maybe we can make the window view more pleasant;
  • and — last but by no means least — can we access the sink!

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I find these things take time.

Meanwhile, things have been stacking up because the walls are not conducive to hanging paintings. Too cluttered and no long open spans.

post 2 stack & dry

Slap-dash instant gratification fix of the day: Remove the goofy little shelf!

post 2 goofy shelf

Now I can hang wet paintings and use the easel for *painting* instead of *propping*.

Next, the inspiration line needs to be reconfigured so I don’t have to duck under it to get to the sofa.

post 2 uninspiration wall

Imponderable of the week:  Studio lighting seems to be every artist’s favorite gripe and I’m debating the situation here.  The room is naturally dark (despite a sliding glass door) so I need supplemental light to work by.  The overhead lights are high- wattage fluorescent fixtures, but from the artist’s perspective, fluorescent bulbs put out an odd color of light compared to actual daylight.

Both the studio walls and ceiling are authentic solid knotty pine paneling.  It’s aged to a rich warm cinnamon-orange and I love how it makes the room seem cozy and warm during the dull, cloudy Oregon winter.  But, between the reflected orange cast from the paneling and the green fluorescent lights,  all the colors in my art look wonky. I am learning to adjust my color mixing and color choices to compensate, but this isn’t exactly ideal.

For now I’ve brought in a better, adjustable table lamp to supplement the ceiling lights, but in the long run solving this issue will take some thought. Obviously, replacing the lights and painting the room — walls and ceiling — all white would be the thing to do, but I am not willing to go there. Yet.

The cat, bless her heart, has been enjoying this project. She helps me me peer where no-one dares — no clue what all is hidden in there but we’ll be finding out soon! post 2 cat in

In the meantime, there is hope. VOILA THE SINK!!! post 2 olook a sink


You can see the progress I’ve made so far by looking at my previous art studio re-organization post. Also be sure to check out everyone’s progress over at Jean Wilkey’s site — she is the instigating host of the art studio makeover challenge.

If you have any ideas about the lighting thing, please share them!

Studio Makeover Challenge 2014

Watch me attempt the great 30 Day On-Line Art Studio Makeover Challenge* of 2014! Maybe I’ll fail! Maybe I’ll succeed! What will happen?! I’m “all in” for the challenge, so let’s find out. This is when you get to cross your fingers and tell me to “break a leg” — or you talk to your bookie. Whatever.

post 1 wide view






The whole zippetydoodah “QUICK! Makeover your life for the new year!” meme is a little bit silly. Most of us recognize that these wishful thinking proclamations (capital P!) are soon broken more often than kept. My own experience is no exception. (If you typically succeed, then more power to you. I’d love to know how you do it.)

I’d like to up my odds on succeeding in this studio makeover challenge, aka the brain child of artist Jean R. Wilkey; you can get the details on who is in the challenge so far and/or sign up to participate at her blog.

Success Tips Gleaned through Failures:

  • Observation over time tells me that actual, real-time, sustained Resolve (capital R!) is required for even the best-intended resolution to stick.
  • Next, it’s helpful if we can Structure our efforts in a way that helps us stay focused.
  • And when the desired outcome is a one-shot deal, a Deadline is mandatory.
  • And then there is “Going Public” as in telling family, friends, coworkers and the whole world what we are about.

This last “say it out loud” feature leaves me ambivalent. If on the one hand people root for you and encourage you, it can be beneficial. If on the other hand the motivation is sheer dread of public failure, then it can be paralyzing. But in this case, I am opting to include it. Right here! With you! (Hi!)

I am inviting you to help me out here, now that I’ve decided to participate in the studio clean up challenge. I need to whip the studio into shape for a big project; the month long format includes some moral support, plus weekly updates and a built-in deadline. Publishing my intention adds a nice fear factor bonus.

Judging by the photographs, possibly a day late and a dollar short, but there we are. For the record, at least half of my studio was relatively tidy last October for the grand Washington County Open Studios Tour when I invited in my collectors, art fans, neighbors, and the general public inside for a peek at where I do my work.

post 1 table space

Things have gone downhill from then. Pictures speak louder than words. This is embarrassing.

When we moved here a little over a year ago, I was thrilled to finally have a whole room for my art. With a sink! And storage!

I immediately began accumulating art supplies and specialized tools; papers, papers and more papers for my beloved collage work; bits and bobs for assemblage pieces and of course the wonderful collection of ephemera for inspiration, color, and shall we be kind and call it “atmosphere” that together make the place seem like home to my inner artist (and apparently, inner pack rat/hoarder/old lady who lives with 18 cats) — not that there’s anything wrong with all that. (Truth be told there’s only one grumpy cat. And a no-account rascally stuffed toy monkey.)

BUT now it is so utterly  disorganized and topsy-turvy that it is driving me to frustration and worst of all, THERE IS NO PLACE LEFT FOR DOING THE WORK! I FOUND MYSELF PAINTING IN THE KITCHEN!!! I am the first to admit, this is nuts. Also, I just today discovered I’ve accidently splattered art paint on the kitchen floor.

This clean up and organize the art studio challenge is perfect timing. I’ve started an ambitious-for-me art project which requires optimum workflow. I don’t want to waste my time or precious mental energy chasing down tools or hunting for misplaced supplies.

Although I am not a tidy person by nature, my common sense practicality makes me appreciate and value efficiency.  (And you just know I am still spluttering about having to razor blade the paint splatters off that hardwood floor. Yes, I am old enough to know better!)

post 1 birch bark

My brain enjoys a good puzzle solving exercise, and this studio makeover challenge is guaranteed to keep it plenty occupied over the next few weeks.


I’ll even  be updating with progress report posts.  And more photos! (Yes, that IS birch bark on top of the printer.)

In the  meantime, since we all love to see other people’s messy studios, check out all the brave participants (Perhaps would YOU like to join us?) here’s the link to Jean’s first progress report. Her photos gave me the courage to actually sign up publicly for the challenge. Just sayin’.

Thanks, Jean!