Friday, January 18, 2008

Simplify and Succeed

The scene above provokes several different responses. This is high desert plain country, and for a lot of people, it's too austere, too simple to be beautiful. For others, including myself, the very simplicity is the beauty.

Comments on my last blog entry from FarFetched, Jim, Dave and the Muse and my friend Kathy's latest entry inspired me to this post. Which is about organization for writers and other creative folk, but with a different approach. Instead of thinking about it in terms of organized, tidy or chaotic, don't make any judgments.

Instead, simplify. Huh? Simplify?

Simplify by asking a few questions. What do you want to have in your workspace? What don't you want around while you're creating? And the most important: what in your workspace clutters your mind? What clears the path to creativity? What creates space within?

The answers may be surprising. "Chaos" may be a simple expression of your creativity. Or you may need a "blank" space to clear your mind. Or something in between. Perhaps a beloved object or one that focuses your mind should be in a place of honor. Perhaps pages need to be piled up next to your desk, for comfort and congratulation.

Okay readers, what do you think? Is this way of simplifying straight on or crooked? Can you apply it to your own space, internal and external?


Dave King said...

An interesting post. I need to reflect on some of your points. What immediately spring to mind are a couple of disconnected (not necessarily unrelated) points: it is one of the functions of aesthetic activity to simplify, to be able to cut through the complexities and to see the simple form beneath - instance Barbara Hepworth; but simplicity and beauty can both be found in complexity, for example, fractals - about which I posted a couple of times last year; and when you begin to talk about simplicity (e.g. in art theory) it becomes very complicated, involving such considerations as Balance, emphasis, proportion, unification etc; and finally, the matter of order in the work place seems to me to be a matter of an individual's makeup - there are plenty of examples of master artists working in neat and tidy conditions and plenty who thrive only in an absolute mess. Artists that is. It doesn't seem to apply to craftsmen.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks for the link to Hepworth, gorgeous (at least in my eye).

Hmm...I'm not sure what you mean about "It doesn't seem to apply to craftsmen."? My father was both an artist and a craftsman and I know that when he was in "craft" mode he had to be extremely cautious and meticulous. Or risk losing a finger, hand, eye or life (he etched glass using cyanide acid). Is that perhaps what you meant?

Dave King said...

Hi Conda,
Yes, I did mean to say that craftsmen are almost always tidy and well organized, "artists" no necessarily so. My father made golf clubs by hand, and was meticulous about the state of his workshop.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Dave. And of course when my father was doing his abstracts--completely different workspace.

jesse said...

Ooh, I like the picture very much. I was reading a great deal Robert Service last month and I wanted to do a painting of the sort of place he would have seen. The road makes me sad though, roads always make me sad because so many of the are built into pretty places which are then portioned off and ruined. Grr.

I think your method is straight on, at least for me...because it requires actually removing instead of just rearranging.

I associate books and art things (pencils, paints, etc) with creativity. Art supplies are especially nice because they are a physical link and smell like something. But I rarely pay attention to my surroundings when I write, unless it is to remove my cat from the keyboard.

jesse said...

Oops, sorry for the second post: I forgot to ask. Did you take this picture? Is so, where and would you minded my using it for a painting?

Cornish Dreamer said...

An interesting post. Something I must think about in my own work environment: it is probably too cluttered. It makes it harder for me to concentrate. Perhaps I should have a good spring clean.

Conda Douglas said...

liosis--thank you, and yes, the foothills of Boise is like something Robert Service would have seen as it is in the Rockies. Without the road, which is a bike path through a suburb. And yes, I agree with you about spoiling. Unfortunately, there's a lot of it that goes on here.

And what is it about creative people and the tools of creating? I collect pens, journals and books without trying and my artist friends have way too much paint and paintbrushes.

And yes, I did take this photo and yes, you may use it for a painting if you "attribute" this photo as the source. And I would love to see the painting.

Conda Douglas said...

Rebecca, thanks--and that's why this post came up for me. January is a dreary month here (witness the photo)and having a "renewed" workplace helps the blahs.