Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Story of An Artist

Many of my readers don't know that I am also an artist and have an artist notebook site but through this site, I have networked with many other artists on the web. One artist intrigued me because she makes wonderful art out of found items , (which you know I'm going to love because I think we are a wasteful society)! But there are two other reasons: one, she is a self taught artist like I am and two, she gave up all of her material possessions to go where ever life took her and it led her to be an artist.

So, I asked her if I could interview her for my blog about minimalism and what she wrote back was incredible! It's long though, so I'll spread it over a few posts.

The Minimalist: What made you think your life sucked?

The Self Taught Artist:
I was forty years old and had recently been asked to move out of the house I had rented
for twelve years because they were selling it. I had been a massage therapist for seventeen years and was burned out physically. I had moved into an apartment and had a hellish neighbor below me that tormented me with music all night. I had recently ended a 6+ year relationship and I had no clue what to do anymore. I knew the city (Phoenix) inside and out and nothing felt new or interesting. I had no skills or education for gainful employment. I was having horrible panic attacks.

The Minimalist:
How did you find the courage to restructure your life?

The Self Taught Artist:

I had a very wise woman suggest to me I just get rid of everything or put it in storage and leave. Get in my car and go. Go towards life. Keep moving and find my passion. Live somewhere awhile, work, and then move on. Just keep moving. It took everything I had to do but it took less than it would have taken had I stayed in the stagnant pool that I had been wading in. It quite literally felt like do or die. Change or die.

The Minimalist:
What kinds of things did you get rid of?

The Self Taught Artist:

I love this question. About five years prior to this I had a very close friend kill himself. Something in me changed overnight. I started burning all the journals I'd kept for almost twenty years. I got rid of most everything and started over. New furniture, new this, new that... I started collecting things that I thought would help me be more interesting and intellectual. Hundred of books, hundreds of records and CD's, art, and antique furniture. Very shallow, but a necessary thing to go through. Then when I had to move out of that house I rented, I had to downsize. I had already begun a pattern of collecting and ridding myself of things so when I decided I was going to just leave with whatever fit in my car, I was excited to finally just be free of the whole material possession thing.

I got rid of my personal stuff: pictures, high school yearbooks, letters from people, books, papers, clothes, knick knacks, etc. I donated what I couldn't sell to friends: furniture, kitchen accessories, bedding, the whole thing. I kept enough stuff to fill up a 5x10 storage unit. Mostly it was a five foot diameter, round chair I had bought that I didn't want to part with. That was the biggest reason for getting that storage unit, all for a $1500 chair! I pondered this to no end thinking if I kept NOTHING sure enough I would go out there, end up coming back sooner than I thought and be pissed I had to buy everything back to start over. And sure enough, which is what happened, if I kept things in storage I would end up staying away and that monthly rental fee along with having to deal with all that crap stuffed in storage would be the bane of my existence. I paid rent for four years and finally had friends go through it and just chuck it. My 'best' things were in that storage closet and I had them send me some of it this year. know what? I never felt happy getting it. It wasn't 'me' anymore. None of it. I got rid of it.

The Minimalist:
It makes you think doesn't it? I love that she said,"
It took everything I had to do but it took less than it would have taken had I stayed in the stagnant pool that I had been wading in."

Next part of the interview tomorrow.

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