by Cheryl Metzger
Have you ever been upset because you can’t find a certain color in your colored pencils even though you are absolutely sure that you have that pencil? Have you ever searched for a Tombow eraser or a Slice tool even though you just used it yesterday? Have you ever ordered a new electric eraser even though you know that yours is somewhere? I have been using colored pencils for over ten years and my life seemed destined to continue the searches forever. Inspiration didn’t have a chance when I spent all of my time searching. And then one day I decided that enough was enough!
Through My Eyes
My first move toward organization and inspiration was to look around my house and decide where I could create a studio, or a nook, or someplace that was totally my own. I had to give away some furniture and move a few other pieces and suddenly my breezeway was my art home — plenty of light and I love it there. It was actually an outdoor breezeway for a few years and then we glassed it in. After that it was used off and on but mostly it was a catch all for shoes and coats, etc. My husband bought me a glass drafting table and that was all it took to get me started. I moved an old cabinet that my great great grandfather made into my space to use as storage. I repurposed two filing cabinets to hold printer papers, classes, addresses, etc. I set up my printers on the filing cabinets and I was set to go. I left a dining room table in the room that I use for display and it doubles as an eating place for my grandchildren when the dining room overflows. My husband found a plank in the garage and put it up on one side to hold finished projects and storage. Almost all second handed but yet perfect for my needs.
“Clearing my space helped clear my mind.”
My second move was to solve my “pencils, pencils, everywhere” problem. I used several brands so the problem was real. I found a computer cabinet on wheels that I could stack my wooden drawers of pencils. I labeled each drawer of my cabinet with pencil names and numbers. I also put a basket on my desk where I can throw stubs. When I am placing an order I can quickly see which pencils need replacing. Oh, yes, I pulled out all of my no longer used Longaberger Baskets and placed them in my art room to actually use. There is one for erasers, one for Mr. Clean sponges, markers are in a piece of pottery, etc. After every project I put each pencil in its place before starting a new drawing. When I see a clean table my mind immediately starts swirling with new ideas. Creating my own space helped to clean the cobwebs out of my mind! The answer for me was to have a system that I could live with. It is easier now to do what makes my soul sing.
Pencils, Pencils, Organized!
My third move was to get rid of clutter. Through the years I had saved photos, books, instructions, electrical cords, chargers for things I no longer own, printers that don’t work, two iPads that didn’t stay charged, on and on. Clearing my space helped clear my mind. I gave good books away that I no longer needed to someone wanting to learn colored pencil. Why not pass them on? Even an iPad that won’t stay charged is cherished by someone that doesn’t mind keeping it plugged in because they’ve never had an iPad before! Why save photographs that are crumpled and old when they are already digitized and I can reprint at any time? Clear it all out! Make space for what matters. Make room for Inspiration!
Everything in It's Place
My fourth move was to have a set time for doing art. I have found that for me I am better to split up my hours rather than trying to work for a few hours straight. I try for 10:00 a.m. - noon. I break and fix lunch, run errands, drink coffee with my husband, return phone calls, and then I go back from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Pick your hours. I found that I didn’t have to be super strict about the hours. If art was to be part of my life then I had to conform to my own lifestyle.
“Make space for what matters.”
My fifth move was to become more involved with Zoom classes and more computer literate. Many classes, videos, and podcasts were free and so very informative and inspirational. I had a few years off from art due to health reasons and when I came back it seemed as though the medium of colored pencil had exploded with new products and techniques. It was both exciting and scary. I had always worked with computers but this was a whole new ball game. I started “following” all my favorite artists and found new favorites. Techniques had evolved and colored pencil had become more of a main stream art medium and I loved that but I didn’t feel ready. Sometimes I have to remember the old saying that “you may never be ready - just start. Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
In conclusion, I had to make a space for my art. I had to organize my supplies, especially all those pencils! I had to get rid of the clutter. My time had to be managed to go along with my lifestyle. I also found that staying interested was tied to learning new techniques and sharing those techniques with fellow artists. The excitement and joy has returned to color my life.
About Cheryl Metzger:
Cheryl Metzger started her career as a Florist but soon became intrigued with art. She took classes whenever possible and started teaching adult art classes at the Vocational School in the evenings. She has received several awards and recognitions but her greatest achievement was receiving her Signature Status with The Colored Pencil Society of America.