Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Short Update from the Studio

Who can resist a glorious sunrise at 8:30 am - I just had to run out and capture that moment this morning.

Who can resist a glorious sunrise at 8:30 am – I just had to run out and capture that moment this morning.

The Sons of Freedom, a Doukhobor sub-group, were known for their practice of purging in regular intervals. Translated, a fully committed member of the Freedomites practiced nudism and arson to protest materialism. The definition in one sentence: Every seven years the Sons of Freedom would round up their worldly possessions, including the clothes on their backs and ignite everything ensuring a fresh start and enough incentive to only own the bare necessities.

I must say, I can see a certain, better yet, a definite benefit in this. 😉 We finished installing the new studio floor on Monday. It looks great (I will post images in the near future…). I am now fully immersed in sorting through supplies. This includes papers, paints, brushes, pens, inks, fabrics and odds and ends deemed absolutely necessary at the time of purchase.

This is just a small "mess". I am sorting art supplies.

This is just a small “mess”. I am sorting art supplies.

I am not sure how often I have been tempted to pick up the telephone and order a clean pack. It would be so easy to toss things over the railing of the studio deck. At the same time I feel it is a wake up call. What was I thinking when I picked up another set of pencil crayons??? Yes, I used most of these sets for my workshops here in the studio and away, however – I feel like I fell victim to consumerism in its worst form!

At this time I am only spending time and energy in the main studio space. I have not begun on the mezzanine where I store samples, books, large rolls of batting and reference material (that will be next). Granted, I started this journey almost 19 years ago. But I also moved from Calgary 8+ years ago. In April I celebrate eight years of inhabiting the studio space. I should have purged better when I moved in the 100+ boxes of books and supplies in 2008. Time restraints prevented that. I was leaving for a teaching gig on the West Coast and had just enough time to move supplies into the cupboards. Once I returned I jumped in and started creating… thoroughly enjoying the space and light and an abundance of inspiration.

The art supply cupboard in progress... nearly done and the goal for today!

The art supply cupboard in progress… nearly done and the goal for today!


Another cup board in progress. It contains embroidery and beading supplies as well as items needed for tassel making. I hope to have some extra space in it to move my sculpture supplies...

Another cup board in progress and still rather messy. So far it contains embroidery and beading supplies as well as items needed for tassel making. I hope to have some extra space in it to move my sculpture supplies…

The first fabric cupboard is organized. It contains most of my hand dyed and commercial cotton and silk fabrics. So far - so good!

The first fabric cupboard is organized. It contains most of my hand dyed and commercial cotton and silk fabrics. So far – so good!

This week I experienced THE moment of truth: We can’t escape responsibility forever: This is the time for me to sort through every basket and container. I equate these last couple of days to a treasure hunt. I have found and rediscovered many things either forgotten or replaced long ago.

My friend Gillian pointed out last night during a phone conversation, I need to organize a sale. Yes, a studio sale of supplies, books and art is on the agenda, most likely this summer. Stay tuned… meanwhile I am avoiding work. I am back to clearing the floor and filling cupboards and baskets. My mantra has been for a while: “I shall not buy what I don’t need right now!”

Rest assured, not everything is tossed in the trash. Dried up paints and bits of paper (I have no idea why I kept these…) quickly find their way into the trash bag, a large box is filling up with oil pastels, paints I no longer need or have too much of. This box will be donated to the children’s art programme at the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery… and the mountain of fabric scraps (containing assorted fat quarters and more) will go to my friend Shirley who has graciously offered to find a new home for them. Shirley creates stunning quilts with what most of us call scraps.

OK, back to the sorting ans purging…

There is always a chance to head outside when "things" get too much - this afternoon's short walk on the lake presented this photo opportunity.

There is always a chance to head outside when “things” get too much – this afternoon’s short walk on the lake presented this photo opportunity.

This entry was published on January 13, 2016 at 6:52 pm. It’s filed under Creativity Update, In the News, Journaling, Motivational, Recycle, Refocusing Creativity, Something to Smile About, Special Project, staying in touch, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “Short Update from the Studio

  1. judithkh on said:

    There is nothing like the spectre of leaving this life to motivate a cleaning up and clearing out of our accumulations! I have been thinking of this a lot lately as I view my own fibre stashes- paper, fabric, paints, and especially old clothes to repurpose. I appreciate all the comments of your readers Anna, as well as your own, and especially Marilyn’s pithy reflections. Why do we gather what we gather and why do we keep what we keep? Sometimes it is hard to answer these questions, perhaps because it reminds us of all our unfulfilled intentions, ‘lost’ inspirations. But there is just something so stimulating about new fabrics,ribbons, special papers, coloured pencils and paints is there not? And now bookstores are flooded with ‘adult colouring books’ as well! I look forward to lighter feelings that accompany clearing out, and am grateful for everyone’s observations of the process. Thanks for sharing your own process and photos Anna. Everything looks so ordered and pristine but the splashes of colour in your cupboards are ever so inviting!


    • I am glad you are enjoying the images and my personal insights, Judith! It is a long and drawn out process… I have started the same process in the house. It is all consuming!


  2. quiltrod on said:

    Anna, I have just finished doing the same thing. I decided I needed a new area rug in my sewing room which meant taking everything out to get it down. For someone who just started her fabric journey in 2010 it is overwhelming the amount of “everything” that I have. The good part was rediscovering what I have!! Now I want to do this, finish that, start this and on and on. Looking forward to seeing the new studio look.


    • Isn’t it amazing what we accumulate bit by bit? I reflected on my buying habits last night. Much of my “supply grab” was due to the City & Guilds diplomas I took. As graduates we had to have a broad knowledge base of art supplies as well as fabrics, not just cottons. Add the quilting side to this and things got out of control. I know this isn’t over… this will be an ongoing sort and purge. Looking forward to seeing your newly organized space!


  3. Shirley on said:

    Your floor looks great even though I loved your checkered floor. I can’t wait to see the fabrics you are sending, actually very excited and will be sewing it up this spring. Thank you Anna!


    • Oh Shirley, it is a big “mish-mash” of fabric for the most part. But I so appreciate your interest and offer to receive it. It makes me feel so much better that it isn’t going in the landfill. Stay tuned for photos. The space is more neutral now. The checkered floor was deteriorating from sun exposure and in-floor heating. The light grey really brightens the space. Can’t wait to have everything in its place. 😉


  4. Yes we are all in the same mode it seems. I just did ANOTHER sweep last month and still feel the need to do it again soon. No more purchasing, just producing is the order of the day. Yes Marilyn we will never use all the stuff that we have in our art closets as time is slipping by quicker than it should. See you this weekend Anna and will bring the piece that I started in the summer workshop. It is good.


    • Can’t wait to see your piece from Art Quilt Campus 2015. I worry that this purge is not nearly enough. As you just pointed out – you just did another sweep… I guess this purging will be on the calendar in regular intervals… See you this weekend! Another reason to get the studio back into place before I come to Saskatoon. Haven’t seen you since the Quilt Show in October. Time flies…


  5. Dorothy M on said:

    Hi Anna,
    A friend lent me this “how-to” book which you might find helpful – I am still in the process of reading it and haven’t started to implement the methods yet but intend to. She and her sisters highly recommend it and so far I am impressed by the methods stated very strongly by the author. It is : “the life-changing magic of tidying up – the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. It was on Amazon’s recommended book list this morning.
    Good luck with your task.
    I look forward to the photos.


    • I have seen the book, thanks for the tip, though Dorothy. The purge has been on my mind for a while now. With the new floor and the necessity to unload all the cupboards so we can move them with ease made this reduction of stuff a necessity. A mutual friend from Calgary (you know Theresa) recently told me that it was a fantastic experience to clear out her basement. It made her feel like a weight was lifted off her shoulders and let her breathe easier. For me it is a definite wake-up call that I have too much stuff, teaching or not! I am calling it a day. I just completed another cupboard and feel I can stop and have dinner. 😉


  6. Marilyn on said:

    Oh Anna, I so know where you are coming from. Since I can’t get out, no no I won’t go says my little car, I thought I would start sorting my studio, driven by the fact that I am 80, been told by a cardiologist that I could drop dead with a heart attack any minute as I refused any kind of treatment. ( I’m ok with that I told him)I suddenly feel I have to get the mountain of stuff sorted since I don’t want anyone to see my bulging drawers , sagging shelves and cupboards that won’t close. I want to be seen as well organized and tidy, when I go. lol. I have spent the day sorting and throwing out , haven’t made a dent, mustn’t despair, having a lie down and a cup of tea before I return to the fray. What was I thinking , I keep muttering , as I sort thru stuff. It is very bitter sweet as I realize at 80 I will never use all of this stuff , make those quilts, do all that stitching….. Here I go again back to my studio for another go. Gotta pare down Wish me luck . I wish you luck too. Your sunset is amazing , no sun here for a while only snow and ice and extreme cold.


    • Oh Marilyn – in some ways I feel better knowing I am not alone in this monumental task. We will send each other encouragement and energy across the miles, what do you say? I am determined that I complete this task by Friday noon… not sure if I am realistic. The upstairs/mezzanine will be sorted at a later date. Some of the items will make their way into the cupboards on the main floor. I shall be ruthless though! For now the main area is my primary focus as I have other deadlines looming – and I have work started that is currently covered by a mountain of stuff. time for a break and dinner. Tomorrow is another day…


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