Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

Bags of Crap Part 1 {The Dark Side of Good Ideas}

The bane of existence is too much crap to deal with. I get really stressed out by having more to do than I can do. So, let me tell you about a problem I’ve been living with for a few years that is the result of a great idea becoming so overwhelming it calcified into total execution paralysis with a heaping helping of hoarding. If you’ve read my last few posts you know I am not one for excess stuff so what exactly went wrong?

While walking the dogs I collect things that might be useful for making sidewalk faces. Even though I pick up very little on any given day, over time it adds up. It might take me a few months to notice but at some point, while rifling through a tornado of plastic poop bags for that blue marble I’m sure is in there somewhere, I come to realize the bag is full to the brim with disintegrating plant matter, bits of plastic headed towards a terrible end our ancestors will curse us for, sharp sticks and rusty nails (thank goodness for tetanus shots I tell myself when I put yet another rusty garden staple into the bag. I do worry I’ll forget it’s there and puncture my skin, but they make such great noses!).

For example: Below are the contents of my bag from November 2017. That doesn’t seem like much stuff to me now but it’s enough junk to make locating any specific item difficult.

Three years ago I do a simple act and dump the contents of this messy satchel onto a white table for sorting. No big deal. Easy peasy. Being the type of artist I am, I make a face. Then several faces. It was really fun because there was so much to work with. I posted some photos to Instagram stories and thought maybe I’ll make this a regular part of the practice.

Did you spot the big paralyzing idea? In addition to making multiple faces a week, color correcting, writing up captions, sharing on Instagram and occasionally blogging about it, I will now also never ever clean out a sidewalk face/dog walk bag without making a whole bunch of new faces and sharing them on social media. Honestly it seemed like a good idea at the time. It is a good idea. But it’s also an idea that necessitates a ton of work. It’s not a thing you can just dash off.

I did it again four months later, felt good about the results and kept stuffing my bag with items.

For a while the bag was filled with wonderfully useful material all organized into easy access containers such as the little Altoid boxes above. But some things resist being contained such as a four foot long bicycle chain. Surely that would make an awesome face outline, right? It’s pretty heavy, should we pick it up? You bet! It’s greasy, should we put it in the bag? Pop it in a poop bag first! Just do it! You’ll be glad you did.

With this type of positive attitude the bag quickly came to weigh 7 lbs and I was growing tired of lugging it around. The pleasure of abundance was feeling more and more like obligation. I desperately wanted to thin out the contents but…do you see where this is going?…I would have to make a whole day of it. I would have to film the process and make art and do stuff I theoretically want to do but don’t actually want to do. The bag got heavier and heavier.

I don’t know exactly when, because who marks on a calendar, today’s the day I give up, I left the heavy-laden bag at home and grabbed an empty one. I have two beautiful handmade leather satchels and I started using the 2nd one. I used her until she filled up. Then I started using a fabric bag that’s older than my 16 year old son. When that one was growing obese I started to worry. My storage closet floor was home to these two hibernating bags of crap and they were crowding out the vacuum cleaner. It’s not like there is another place I can put the vacuum cleaner. But the bags couldn’t be properly put away because they were full of stuff that needed to be dealt with. Artistically dealt with. What the what?! There is a dark side to having good ideas.

In Bags of Crap Part 2 I will show you how I recently got out from under this crushing conundrum. I did what I said I would do. I cleaned out the bags and made faces. In Bags of Crap Part 3 you will get to see a giant face made from a rusty bicycle chain, one made from a broken car mirror and one made from a Prada business card. Are you trembling in anticipation! Was it all worth it? Stay tuned! Part two coming next Tuesday October 19th.

The More You Make, The More You Make. So Make More.

The More You Make, The More You Make. So Make More.

I’ve noticed that if I leave the house without my good camera I probably won’t make any faces. Maybe one will scream at me until I snap a portrait but a reluctant one-off face rarely leads to another. Like a leaky water hose, some creativity dribbles out but it’s not intentional.

If I do take my camera then almost for sure I will make a face. I’ve intentionally turned the hose on so of course I am going to water a plant. And if I’ve made one face, I am very likely going to make another. And if I make two I will probably make four and the fourth one will really jazz up my day. At that point I am loose and playful. I am on the hunt, I am hooked up to a sprinkler dousing the whole yard in creativity.

Were you by chance looking for someone like me?

At the beginning of the pandemic, touching anything felt dangerous so sidewalk face making slowed down dramatically. At that point I was washing plastic wrapped bags of bread in the sink like dirty dishes to disinfect them from the amazon delivery. Boy was that tedious! With the feeling of an invisible threat everywhere all the time, it felt wrong to make faces so I did some with my feet, I only used plants and I went back to the archives.

Now I feel okay touching things again. I’m always wearing a mask. I have hand sanitizer and everything has been baking in the sun for hours. But all those months of reticence meant I wasn’t bothering to lug my camera around and hunt, hunt, hunt. So yeah, one would pop up here and there but was I making an effort? No. Did I feel enthusiasm? No. Was my practice thriving? No. It felt kind of far away and faded. It felt dry and dehyrated.

Recently I’ve brought my camera along and you know what, I’ve been regularly making four faces on every dog walk. The first is sort of should I or shouldn’t I? What the heck. Let’s do it. Then maybe the camera stays out, around my neck. The 2nd one is just happening. No need to question if it’s a good idea. The third is like oh hell yes. And the fourth is me wondering if I could arrange to do this all day.

As a matter of fact I was.

I can’t color correct them as fast as I make them. The last one I made is a new all time favorite. Creativity is a conduit, a pipe, a portal, a channel. You have to do things to keep the channel clear and open. Just like exercise keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, making more leads to making more. So if you want more, make something and make it soon.