Why Prolific Artists Have Messy Homes

If you are a prolific artist who struggles to keep a neat and tidy house, you probably don’t need to read any further. You already know why prolific artists have messy homes.

My local Art Gallery is home to a reconstruction of part of Margaret Olley’s house. You can look in the windows and see remnants of the flowers Margaret used as inspiration for a painting.

Empty cans and paint tubes litter the kitchen. Easels, palettes and treasures from travels, cover every nook and cranny.

Margaret would offer a meal to visitors when they arrived. Most would decline, claiming they had just eaten.

Those with a more robust constitution tell of the great meals Margaret would whip up, seemingly effortlessly, amidst the clutter.

Margaret’s art filled many exhibitions and her fame spread far and wide.

But what if?

I’m not an artist – I’m not even a painter. But I do share Margaret’s idea of a neat house.

When I’m not creating I tidy my house, and it stays tidy until the next creative idea bursts forth.

Creative pursuits have absolute precedence over mundane chores. Only the most urgent matters penetrate the creative cocoon I build around me.

Perhaps that’s how it was with Margaret?

Don’t accept someone else’s reality as your own. It isn’t!

Did well-meaning people try to pressure her into conforming to their reality?

What if Margaret had conformed?

There are homes with no clutter. And homes where you are afraid to step inside because they feel so sterile.

What if Margaret had chosen to spend hours each day tidying her house? Finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place. Dusting; polishing; de-cluttering; mopping.

In her dying moments would she look back and be proud of her incredibly neat and tidy home?

We will never know.

Because if she looked back in those last moments of her existence, Margaret would see the legacy she was leaving the world.

The hundreds of beautiful works of art she created, will live on forever.

Margaret Olley’s paintings are the testament of her creative life, and the world will be eternally grateful.

What legacy will you leave behind?

Will future generations remember the tidy home you had?

Or will you leave behind thousands of words that will inform and entertain?

I know the legacy I want to leave behind – and it isn’t a tidy home…


Owner and Administrator of website: maureendurney.com

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Maureen, I still yearn for a neat and tidy house, though it will never happen. Now, I’ve brought out my box of old travel photos and going thru them. I don’t know the artist you mentioned. I will google her. I’m doing a bit of catch up reading posts. Hope you are well.

    1. Lily, I reckon a neat and tidy house is overrated – I’m very happy in my creative mess. If I was to put away all my ‘in progress’ projects, I’d totally forget to finish them. Kind of like the chair that still isn’t finished – but it will be today (I hope)…
      Ah, and that box of photos! Now there’s a project of mine that is long overdue. I have so many photos that I want to scan onto USBs for safer keeping and to give to family members. And since I’ve rearranged my living space, I’ve got heaps more room to spread the photos out while I sort them. Now that could be another blog – What to do with old photos….
      Enjoy your catch up reading, and well done on the UBC! I loved reading your posts – as always.

      1. Maureen, Doug Jarvie gave me good advice of taking a photo of my old photos instead of scanning. Saves so much time. I have a scanner but taking photos with my iPhone is much quicker and quality is very good. And you can edit after.

        1. Heck! That is awesome advice, Lily. I like that you can edit it. With the great software available now, all those old faded photos should take on a new life.
          Thank you for passing that on.
          I’m scheduling the photo project for the cooler weather… I think they’d all melt if I got them out in this humidity – 86% this morning… although it isn’t as bad as it was yesterday morning – 92%….

  2. Love this! Couldn’t agree more! Fortunately we have a ‘casual’ household where it’s understood that sometimes meals will wait until I need a writing break … or there is always plenty of food if someone is hungry enough to prepare it themself. How wonderful to have an art studio where one could shut the door on the rest of the world while in there … and then shut the mess away from the eyes of the rest of the world when not ….
    Oh ..and I love Margaret Olley’s work – she captures the colours, images and spirit of her subject so lovingly. Such a talent. She did an interview with Ben Quilty (who painted her portrait) which is just delightful.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Sally. I have a room that I could designate, but tend to ‘create’ all over the place. And meals, well, I eat when I’m hungry and don’t care if I have to live on Vegemite on toast for a few days until I get things finished.
      It’s all good.

  3. I always put writing before dishes. Someone else in the house can do it, but they can’t write like I do. I like to think each of us has a gift to contribute to this world and make our mark. And that legacy does not include – she always did the dishes.

    1. I love that idea, Elisa. The dishes will wait. And they are certainly not as important as writing. 🙂

I’ll get back to you as soon as I finish my coffee...

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