Happy New Year, and the (Creative) Value of 'Making a Mess'!

Mess by Keri Smith
a fine mess
This lovely book, by Keri Smith, celebrates mess, mistakes and imperfections. In other words, real life. Smith suggests a range of art activities, which will probably turn out to be rather less than perfect...even the cover is a bit of a mess, with crossings-out, a patch of white-out and rewritten parts, so it looks rather like a bad homework assignment...
one I prepared earlier from Keri's book
     
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a relaxing break from routine, work, school, home duties, whatever you normally do, and that you are feeling energised and ready for the year ahead...maybe, or maybe not?
   
If you are in Australia, you will be aware there is a heatwave at the moment, which is certainly not energising. You won't need me to tell you that extreme heat can make us feel very lethargic. This can make some of us weirdly grateful for the holidays coming to an end, especially if our workplace has air conditioning. 
     
Anyway, back to the subject of mess! I have noticed a lot of discussion on social media about the benefits of decluttering, since Marie Kondo's show started on Netflix earlier this month. Ideally, Kondo suggests, we should only keep items which 'spark joy'. Trends like this are usually short lived however - remember colouring books? In fact there has been a bit of a backlash in favour of keeping all your stuff instead. Perhaps somewhere in the middle is best - and not buying new stuff you really don't need is probably a good start.
     
Living in a messy environment can really bother us if we can't find what we need, which means we waste time looking for things, and find that we can't get out of the house on time. It can be stressful and is probably not great for our mental health. As parents we are often nervous about our children making a huge mess, especially if they are given free access to messy materials like clay or paint to experiment with. 
     
Surprisingly, making a mess can be an important element of being creative. We are often held back by notions of perfection, and this can be inhibiting, as it means we will almost certainly be disappointed with our efforts. Instead, we need to jump in, muck around and 'just do it', trying to be less worried about the result. As we say in art therapy, the process is more important than the product. Instead, we can start with playing with art materials, and see what happens. Indeed, many  artists' studios are very messy and full of stuff - see the lovingly recreated studio of Margaret Olley at the Tweed Gallery in Murwillumbah, for a great example. Perhaps if we allow ourselves to make a bit of mess, we can lose those perfectionist thoughts about making beautiful art, and just Have Fun. And of course, clean up after ourselves later on.
     
Meanwhile, if you are looking for some ideas, see the following 30-day drawing challenge - it could be worth a try. It can be hard to find inspiration every day, so follow the prompts instead. If you want to...meanwhile, remember to stay cool if you can, and drink lots of water. Free air conditioning is available in art galleries, libraries, and shopping centres. And schools go back next week...hope that goes well for everyone!