Anal Retentive Artist

macro stencil

macro stencil

Friends closest to me used to refer to me as anal retentive. They joked, not so jokingly, about how you could eat off of my kitchen floor, literally.

When I started making art, I tried to keep that perfectly clean mindset. I’d get really upset if paint dried on a stencil because I didn’t clean it right away. I’d beat myself up for ruining it. I had the same response to rubber stamps that were ink stained.

If you are an artist, I bet you’re laughing so hard you’ve just fallen out of your chair. Make art without making a mess? Ha!

Things have changed. I rarely clean off my stencils beyond the occasional quick rinse. I no longer scrub and scrub to get every drop of paint off of a stencil or out of a paint brush. You wouldn’t want to eat off my kitchen floor anymore either. Even the three-second rule could be dangerous.

In addition to relieving stress, anxiety and depression, art has also allowed me to become more comfortable with the mess, to ease my grip on perfection. I still like a clean house, but I’ve learned to let some things go. I no longer worry about my work space getting stained with paint, ink or other medium. A stained table means joy was found. Ink stained rubber stamps means art was made. And it’s easy to find that favorite stencil….It’s the rainbow colored one.

I used to clean my home spotless at least once a week. We had kids and dogs and cats. Today the kids are grown, every one in the house is adult age. I might go a month between sweepings and dustings. No one else really seems to mind. I have my priorities. I must have clean dining table and kitchen counters and a clean toilet. I have never actually eaten off my kitchen floor so I waste no energy in making sure I can.

Besides, it’s exhausting trying to be an anal retentive artist. Life is messy. Add color + stir.

What has art helped you to release?