More thoughts about stuff.

In another fit of productivity, I spent several recent evenings sorting through a number of boxes of my stuff that have been living in the parents’ basement for the last few years. Yes, sorting. And here I thought I was done with that for a while.

IF YOU ARE MY MOTHER, please stop reading now. I will talk with you about this when you get home.

Is she gone?


There aren’t any huge secrets, but it’s best if I whisper that some of the things that I have been sorting through are old sketchbooks, old paintings, and journals. Mum doesn’t care so much about the journals, but she gets rather upset when I get rid of art. The big problem with old art, however, is that it can be, well, big. Big canvasses, fat sketchbooks, large quantities. (If I ever doubt that I am naturally driven to draw, remind me about the piled + piles of sketchbooks that I sorted through.)

Now, you must understand that I have not been throwing things away willy-nilly. In fact, in a burst of eco-consciousness I have been trying very hard not to throw anything away that can be recycled, as the three large boxes of recyclables will attest. No, I have been flipping through every page of every sketchpad and journal and tearing out a few drawings here and there for keeping or re-sale. The rest is separated from the metal binding and placed in a box.

When I was young and a prolific reader of artist biographies, I had dreams that someday someone would want to write a biography about me and would ask to see all my piles of old sketchbooks to evaluate my artistic development. He or she would flip through some drawings c. 1992 and say, “Aha! I can see the threads of your genius beginning even now,” and select 8 or 9 pieces (titled Early Works) for the introduction. You know, the part of the book that includes cute childhood photos and interviews with aging teachers about how I was The Best Art Student Ever.

Hey, we have all have dreams like this, right?

Anyhow, as the recycling pile grew higher and the to-keep pile increased a few at a time, some of those dreams died. It’s for the best, but it was still a little sad. And don’t even get me going about all the old journals that can/should never see the light of day but which I still miss a little — like pulling a few heart strings out of many and laying them gently in a musty box.

And so, after the trauma of getting rid of so much Old, I am again resolved not to replace it with very much New and thus have to repeat the process in a few years.

Oh, and I am resolved to start scanning a lot more stuff. Flickr is our friend.

And I suggest that, if you must endure this process yourself, it is very helpful to play a movie in the background (preferably a kind of silly one) so that you distract yourself from reading every single journal page and getting all mopey. Distraction is not a bad thing, you just have to know when and where to apply it.

Have a good weekend, all. Auntie Paula gets to puppy-sit on Saturday, so I know that mine will be fun. :)


2 thoughts on “More thoughts about stuff.

  1. I enjoyed reading about your cleanup adventure.
    How lucky you are to have a mother that care so much about your art career!
    It is a brave move to recycle some of your early sketches and journals.
    Maybe you can do as Basquiat did and collage them together and draw and paint on them,

  2. P-Bird,

    A very good post. The act of human creation when it beautiful is not just considered an act of capturing an image. For your mother, the act of art is two fold:

    1. It leaves a little impression of “Paula.” A mark on this earth that more clearly described who you are than any photograph.

    2. You become a conduit for an expression of God, since Christians believe that art is simply allowing to have God come through us.

    (The Greeks had all the later and none of the former. The actually held the artist in some disregard, as the artist could be picked at any time and the gods could get the same result.)

    Therefore, when you get rid of the art, the subconscious feeling is that you destroy both the daughter and a work of God.

    This is not just your Mom. I can remember you went into the schoolroom at Grandpa’s and drew a picture of a horse on the big whiteboard in there. The picture was there for years, as nobody wished to get rid of the drawing.

    Uncle T

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