Donating Renewing Inspiration Part II

I received a few interesting comments and questions after posting ‘Donating, Renewing, Inspiration’. As a result, here is Donating Renewing Inspiration Part II.

DONATING ART

There were two similar questions relating to giving away artwork that sits in an online shop or portfolio for too long. I can relate. There will always be artwork that doesn’t sell easily. Why is this the case? Without drawing any parallel between Rembrandt and me, why was the commissioned The Night Watch turned down and stored behind a wall? Quality is not always the reason. More likely motivations to buy or reject art are price, style, fashion, or it could be that an artwork is too complex (for an online shop). For me, especially, this counts for my large graphite drawings. They have an unmistakable artistic quality and are technically above average, but monochromatic drawings are notoriously difficult to photograph and therefore selling is not easy. What to do?

The writer Chaim Potok in his ‘My Name Is Asher Lev’ offers a good idea. He describes a scene in which his main character, the artist Asher Lev, feels responsible for a poor widow with children. As Asher Lev himself is a young artist and not wealthy at all, Potok has Lev donating a painting every (so many) months to the widow. The first painting is accompanied with a letter by Lev in which the artist explains that perhaps one day his artworks will be sought after by art collectors and then the widow should sell off her Lev collection.

As always, when we are short of ideas, we should turn to literature for inspiration.

INTANGIBLE GIFTS

Another comment came from somebody who promotes giving intangible gifts. The lady follows Marie Kondo’s advice and desires a minimalist home. Gifts, she experienced, seldomly match her home and despite her appreciation for the act of giving, she often perceives gifts as unwanted items. We can all relate to a lesser or greater extent. Gifts like walking somebodies’ dog, or reading aloud to somebody, or babysitting, a handwritten poem are often very valuable gifts.

For a long time the Financial Times had a column in which a famous and wealthy person would be asked about his or her relation to donating. The first question would always be ‘Should we, to your opinion, donate money or time to charity’. Donating time is as much a valuable gift as money.

A FLOW OF THINGS

As to what is ‘a flow of things’. My household has seen many, many occasions of donating and renewing. Having gone through so many international moves, I’ve developed a rather detached attitude to (most) objects. After the first moves (and first decluttering and donating sessions), I woke up at night, sweating from anxiety, panicking; ‘What have I done!’ But as with so much in life, one gets used to letting go. I grew confident over the years knowing that objects are not the memories of those objects; you can donate an object and keep your memories.  

SHEDDING SKIN

There is a flow of things from one household to another. It brings a smile to my face knowing the pink slide that was used by me and my siblings as children, and later by my young daughter, I donated to a Kindergarten for chronically ill children. Objects should be used and enjoyed.

As for things that hold bad memories… goodness…you should not have these in your homes. Your home should not only have things that have your love, you find beautiful or useful, but also radiate happy memories. Home is the one place that allows you to relax, to feel right at all times. Cleaning means not only dusting things off, it also means tidying up, making changes to something in order to make it better.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Donating, Renewing, Inspiration Part I.

Paula’s art shop at Etsy

Paula’s art portflio at Instagram

All links to Paula’s work at Linktree

Donating Renewing Inspiration

What do you do when you face another international move and you are only allowed to bring a maximum of x square meters of personal belongings? You donate; you donate like mad. In South-Korea, I donated baby and toddler furniture to a local orphanage. In East-Europe, I donated to local friends. In Belgium, I drove a few times to a charity shop and in Ireland I posted furniture and stuff on Facebook (all was collected in no time). At home, I have a circle of friends and the Dutch vintage shop Kringloop for donating stuff and furniture. Shedding skin is never a sad thing; it is a good thing to donate. It de-clutters, it forces you to move one, and as a result you do not live in the past.

But what about my art? Luckily my older drawings do not take up much space. I store them in a portfolio and 4-5 portfolio maps may be heavy but square-meter wise are neglectable. Still, it is a good thing to go through your portfolio and say bye-bye to drawings and paintings that haven’t sold and therefore one could depart from. Nothing is holy or beyond scrutinizing its beauty, usefulness or what feelings objects provoke.

What Helps You To Select?

I have read books on this and I like to offer three perspectives. The first one is by the famous Marie Kondo. She offers you a selection criterion stating you must love an item in order to keep it. I discussed this with a friend and we both think that is too simplistic, after all you can love trash, you could love useless stuff, or you are attached to an object because you feel obliged to pass it on to the next generation.

Then there is Eva Jarlsdotter’s decluttering’s working thesis encouraging you to do research into what items (furniture, clothing, a huge basket full laundry) costs as in taking up space, working on your emotions (for instance irritation), or as costing you time (to clean, to move around). I did this for our laundry cycle and drew interesting conclusions which lead to changing habits.

Art inspires art: my ‘Ode to William Morris’s Trellis’ on a painter’s easel with our new Morris’s wallpaper in the background.

Last, there is William Morris, the much admired and famous British multi-talented artist who simply states that:

‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.

Perhaps all three combined offer the best evaluation, Jarlsdotter’s economic thesis, Kondo’s minimalist strategy, and Morris’ passionate direction. We need to surround ourselves with only beauty and useful things because it makes living so much more pleasurable.

As an ode to William Morris’ passionate and inspiring call for more beauty, about a year ago I chose his elegant Snakehead wallpaper and renewed our bedding. Shedding skin does not have to be a bad thing. The effect can be very uplifting. And, despite these beautiful photos, it does not have to be expensive. Our local vintage shops are full of lovely and affordable items. They say that one person’s trash is another persons’ treasure. But let me say; one person’s treasure can be another persons’ treasure. Donating is important; gifting is important. It causes a flow of things, it prevents stagnation, and it offers you a renewed feeling.

My Mandarin Duck Gouache painting with William Morris Wallpaper in the background

The most important thing, next to William Morris’ advice, is that you need to surround yourself not only with beautiful and useful things but also with things that hold good memories or radiate inspiration. To me, personally, this rings truth because art inspired art.

In ‘William Morris in 50 Objects‘, I read more on Morris’s quest for surrounding yourself with beautiful things. I quote from No. 24 Morris explaining the importance of the decorative arts. He regarded ‘beauty’ as a basic human need that could only be satisfied by the best possible art. By ‘art’ he meant not just paintings or sculpture, but the home furnishings that surrounds us in our everyday life.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Donating Renewing Inspiration Part II is here.

At Etsy

At Linktree

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