A Joyful Jumble

What’s your favorite garden style? Peaceful Symmetry or a Joyful Jumble? Either way, Nature is healing.

Whether you go for a garden with planned space or naturalized plantings, experts agree, time with nature has many benefits. The benefits are so great that mental health professionals call it eco-therapy. The blog, EcoTherapy Heals is devoted to ways to take advantage of the healing power of nature. In a blog post, Self Care Seeker says, there are 5 Important Ways Nature and Mental Health are Connected. Goodnet.com has a post describing 10 Unexpected Benefits of Spending Time in Nature. It appears that the verdict is certain. All that’s left is to determine how you get your fill of time in nature.

Gardens are a wonderful way to get more nature into our lives. The blog, Love for Gardens says, “The presence of gardens in our lives can improve our lifestyle, and brighten our daily, modern world that is often obscured by buildings and artificial, man-made structures.” The first thing to do is to decide what style of garden you like and find one. Or build your own.

There are two types of gardens. One is the precisely drawn architectural garden, where everything is in its place, balanced and carefully manicured. The second type is a wild array of flowers, trees and various plants tumbling all over each other and outside of any boundary. Depending on mood, day or whatever is going on, one garden may be preferred over the other. Most sources say it’s the time in nature that’s important.

Cheekwood Gardens and Museum, Nashville, TN

Some days order is needed to counter the crazy chaos swirling around in every day life. A well-designed garden is the perfect place to get relief from the stress. One beautiful example of this type of garden is Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois, recently updated and redesigned by leading landscape design firm, Sasaki. If you are in the Wheaton, IL area and in need of some soul rejuvenation, check out this park. Pausing to take a deep breath in a well ordered space full of beautiful growing things can do wonders for peace of mind.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville, AR

My preferred type of garden is the kind that looks like everything is all growing together with color spilling out everywhere. Attracted by the color, butterflies are flitting around in happy circles from flower to flower. The bees, not to be outdone by the butterflies, jump in on the act too. The result is a kaleidoscope of color and movement. I can sit for hours and just watch the bees and butterflies as a gentle breeze drifting through the flowers gives them the effect of dancers on a stage. My heart lifts just thinking about the array of beauty. A Joyful Jumble is what I call this myriad of color and energy. Joy is popping out all over!

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Golden Pond, KY

Creative Gas for Thrivers

As spring brings thoughts of decluttering, the art studio should be first on the list. Some artists may argue that they work better in chaos and clutter. More power to them. Many decluttering authorities and pundits hail the benefits of decluttering home and office to bring on peace and calm. That would go for the studio as well. If uncluttered thoughts, inspirations, goals and directions are necessary for clear thinking and stress reduction, would that not be true of creating? It makes sense. The brain is an electrical circuit. Any nicks, tears or disruptions along the circuit are also going to be hampering the flow through the circuit. Good art flow needs a clean, clear circuit for most artists. It has made a huge difference for me. Once I had it all decluttered, I can easily get to just about anything I need. Even those seldom used items that are still important are just within easy reach.

Some of the best research on the value of decluttering came from a study on marketing professionals meeting the changing world of post covid, that appeared on the website for Accenture. The researchers found that they could divide marketers into three groups: Thrivers, Strivers and Survivors. According to the article, the thrivers, “…Focused on what matters, discarded what doesn’t and rewired the rest. As a result, they find greater meaning in their work.” As to the other two groups, “Strivers had some autonomy to meet customers needs,” and “Survivors,…who were burnt out..” and believing change was temporary.” Though these were marketing professionals, the research would pertain to artists as well. Focus on what matters, get rid of what doesn’t and rewire the rest. Be a Thriver!

“There’s a certain mystique attached to messy artistic types, as if true creativity is only possible amid chaos,” says an editorial in Artsy.net. In the article is a quote from artist, Rachel Schmidhofer, “I’ve started to view the inside of my studio as a reflection of the inside of my mind.” “There’s definitely a relationship between clutter in my space, anxious thoughts in my brain, and scatteredness in my paintings.” For the artist looking for scatteredness, it might be ok to stay cluttered. But what if your work has a certain order to it and you lose that order. You can’t find your inspiration or you feel blocked. Maybe decluttering is your answer if you can get through the struggle of letting unnecessary things go.

It may be something of a struggle to get past the thought of throwing away art supplies or other art things that may have had meaning in the past. Or were part of a special project or a special piece of work. It’s so hard to let those things go. The Simple Lion Heart Life says, “If you are struggling to declutter, sometimes the best approach is to figure out why you are struggling. Oftentimes, once you know exactly why you are struggling, it becomes easier to move past it and clear the clutter.” Good advice. Start with the why and let it take you to the what.

When you decide to start decluttering, a word to the wise from The Empress of Dirt: “Do NOT Buy Decluttering Supplies! Long-lasting Decluttering Does Not Require Buying stuff.” So don’t move the clutter from a shelf into a nifty new stackable box. It’s still there lingering. You still have to find a place for the box.

The best reason of all to declutter the studio is to simply rewire your creativity. Maybe the decluttering will lead to a whole new body of work now that you have space for it. The best quote on why decluttering will improve your art comes from Alice Sheridan: “Creativity is like gas: it expands to fill the space.” To become an artistic thriver, make room for a little more gas and watch for creative explosions!!

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