Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about personal projects. A personal project defined as a creative project you have started on your own. Not a project for a client or a gift for a friend. Some projects you make for yourself and even if you eventually give it away or show it to the public—it is these projects that give us identity as artists. Personal work is where we develop as individuals. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about the personal projects we aren’t even close to completing. We all have them: the kiln in the corner of the basement, sketchbooks full of artistic plans and goals, barely started novels, abandoned paintings or comics, container full of beads or soldering supplies untouched for years, the half-knitted sweater in the basket by the sofa. You’ve probably heard of the Art of Tidying Up movement, where you go through the items in your house, hold them in your hand, decide if they give you joy and then let them go. While that is more of a minimalist movement, I believe it is time for a decluttering movement for artists. I don’t mean to just pick up old, unfinished projects or half used tubes of paint and throw them out (although that can always be useful too). What I mean: What are the personal projects we are clinging to? What are the projects that we think are the core of our artistic identity but instead are weighing us down in the clutter of self-doubt because we are afraid to let go? Projects we think we should be doing to show how great we are versus projects we actually want to do. I see many artists, including myself, clinging to old projects or stereotypes, formed in childhood or college or early in one’s career, that are holding us back from new work and new choices. It’s time to no longer be typecast as a stunted version of the artist you want to be. Every year I look forward to the fall as a time to get back in the studio and start new, big projects. I am going to use this time to go through the clutter of my old assumptions and throw out that which no longer gives me joy. I recommend you do the same.

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