I’m back today with the second half of artist interview & sneak peek In The Studio with Andrea Donnelly. Andrea is a Richmond Virginia fiber artist whose work I was first introduced to in a local shop in Charleston (The Commons) and then at Art Fields a couple years ago. Andrea got in touch with me after reading one of my artist interviews last year and we agreed that I would come for a visit to see her studio in person:) We spent a lovely few hours together and she showed me around both rooms of her studio space and then enjoyed an amazing dinner together in Richmond. I’m so grateful for the artists who invite us to visit their studio! We can learn so much from each of these visits. Andrea is incredibly organized and these photos are not styled so this is typical of what her studio space looks like on an average day.
In The Studio with -Artist Interview & Sneak Peek-Part II (See Part I here)
HKPS:: Do you ever find it challenging to locate certain things when you’re ready use them? How do you store tools and materials you use frequently to make your process easier?
AD::The things I use most are on open shelves or trays right by the places I use them, and things I use less frequently are stored in easily accessible drawers near my work tables. The things I use infrequently are stored higher and in containers that need to be taken down and opened. It works really well for me. My system is pretty intuitive so I don’t lose things, as long as I remember where I’m keeping a certain category of a thing, like tape, or cleaning supplies, and unless I’ve just moved studio spaces I don’t forget.
HKPS:: How or did you learn your organizing habits and systems? Do you consider yourself to be organized or alternately do you tend towards hoarding stuff?
AD::I am very organized and enjoy it. My systems developed over time and studios to put things in places that make sense: like things together, and things put near the places they are used so they can be gotten to easily and put away easily.
HKPS:: Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
AD::Not too regularly. I try to keep from having too much “extra” stuff around in the first place, buying what I use and using what I have. I do keep an inventory of my basic materials, but those are continually cycled through and replaced by new things, so clutter doesn’t really build up.
HKPS:: What tips can you offer regarding your use of schedules, systems, tools or processes that help you maintain organization in your studio?
AD:: I would say that as a visual artist my organizational processes and systems are intuitive, tactile, and informed by my need for beauty. So my shelves are open for things I use a lot, and those things are organized in a way I find aesthetically pleasing. This works great for pretty things like cloth, my weaving tools, and cones of thread. Things that are more utilitarian, like tape and paper, pliers, hammers, etc, are organized in nice chests and toolboxes within easy reach.
HKPS:: Do you use sticky notes? How/where?
AD::I use sticky notes occasionally, and so their impact is bigger…if I have a sticky note up on the wall, it means I really want to remember the idea. Most things I try to keep in my sketchbook, so if they get “lost”, they are still in a place where I will find them again someday!
HKPS:: Do you notice cycles or phases of projects that are more or less organized in your creative process?
AD::Well, at some point in a project I notice that I stop putting things away, and my space gets messy and all my focus is on whatever I’m making…really pushing to get it done. Then when I feel close to finishing I will clean, so I have a clean space to lay out the work and look at it. When big projects are done, or I send out an exhibition, I will really clean my space as a way of signaling to myself that I am about to start something new.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once?
AD::Usually, I am working on 2-5 projects in different stages, with one being the focus, another second in line ready to be the focus when the first is done, and a couple just rolling around in my brain, working things out in the background. This is just how my creative process has developed, and might also be because I have three looms now. I’m pretty sure I used to work on one thing at a time. My processes can be physically exhausting or tiresome, and some require wait times, so it’s good to have different things to get done when I need a break or am waiting on a dye bath or for something to dry.
HKPS::Do you think your creative success and or your process is helped or constricted by discipline? Do you find that limitations or boundaries can help fuel your creativity?
AD::I do like structure in my creative process, but I also try to make sure I pick my head up and get out of my own way sometimes. It’s a balance of structure (boundaries) and possibility…the structure helps to edit limitless potential down into something interesting and focused. My limitless space is more thought space, and my medium is my way of distilling and translating thoughts into conversations and questions and perspectives.
HKPS::Do you set any self imposed limitations (to your schedule, material use etc)? Is there anything you intentionally don’t have in your studio due to distraction?
AD::I like to keep pretty regular studio hours, with an additional day on Saturday, and right now I tend to come in between 8 and 12 (12 if I have my morning yoga class), and stay until 7 or so. I make myself stay at home about one day a week, to do admin. I don’t have internet in the studio and do not bring my computer. It’s all about the artwork when I’m there. My materials are not exactly limitations, but I am focused mostly on working with thread and cloth. It’s a medium and direction of inquiry that has never gotten old, so I’m still going!
HKPS:: How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records?
AD::I think about that and try to use archival materials and good practices for the longevity of the work. As they are mostly textiles in panels, a lot of my large work is stored rolled up, wrapped in cloth and labeled. I keep a spreadsheet on my computer with details about the work (size, title, materials, date, etc.)
I’m so grateful to Andrea to reaching out to me, if she had not, I may not have had the chance to meet with her, see her work and share this interview with all of you. If you want to see more of her work, Andrea has a solo show: We’ve Met Before, open now at the NC Art museum in Raleigh through January 2018. Please see her work in person or via her website!
*The idea for the Inside the Artist Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Is there a particular artist whose ‘Tool kit’ you would like to see featured? Leave a comment below and le