Clean Desk

I’m feeling better than I was the other day when Joy and I got home from hospital. I am, but Joy is still not feeling so great.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Since I was feeling better I thought I should arrange the desk to reflect my attitude. Besides, I wanted to start painting. With the desk in the chaotic condition that emerged from my neglect, I wouldn’t be able to paint or even be in the same room without breaking into a cold sweat.

My usual way of dealing with the increase in entropy of my desk, or room, or garage for that matter, is to make a clean sweep: remove everything, pair like things together and assign a final disposition. That last part is sometimes the hardest. If the ‘thing’ in question is useable in the immediate future, like a brush or a tube of paint, I normally have a place for it; I try to throw away non-useable items, ‘try’ being the operative word, but that is another story.

As a result of adding my own energy to my desk, I successfully reversed its entropy!

Watercolor: Desk in Studio Cleaned Off

Clean Desk
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


The desk in our study belonged to my father. I love the fluted edge of the desktop. This is where I began painting. I made little Van Dyke brown arcs across the bottom of the page. The rest of the brown colored the desktop. Later in the process I sketched in the scratches with quinacridone nickel.

On the left side of my desk, I have a stack of papers, my blue pencil box, on top of that my little plastic box of charcoals. I could have made that plastic a bit more reflective and shaded the sides of the pencil box a bit more.

Moving clockwise around the desk is a green plastic pill bottle (colored with phthalo green), my red coffee cup, an (cadmium) orange pill bottle (holding art supplies), two other bottles of liquid latex, a ceramic teabag receptacle doubling as a paintbrush holder, a cast iron teacup and a yellow tennis ball. I had fun mixing colors for these items. For the most part, I mixed pigments with varying amounts of lamp black to get the appropriate shading.


Yes, part of the desk is clear. I have too many things to use and not enough boxes to put them in, it seems. But that is beside the point.  Again, as in many of my watercolor experiments, I got the most satisfaction seeing more and more, the longer I stared at my subject (my desk, in this case). For instance a quick glance did not reveal the reflections of the cup and bottles on its dull surface.  I had to focus my eyes at a distance to really see them.  By painting in the reflections, as faint as they were, I made the desktop come to life, in a way.

7 thoughts on “Clean Desk

  1. I am fascinated by the contents of people’s desks. I think it was The Observer, or perhaps Guardian, which had a long-running weekly feature on the subject. Famous artists were invited to write about the items on their desk and the article had an accompanying photograph. I loved it! Your piece reminded me…


    • Thanks Liz. I used to do sketches of my desk in all its untidiness. I’m not sure what that would say about me except that I am am untidy.
      It might be interesting to dig out those old sketches to see how (or if) the character of my untidiness has changed over the years.
      Good idea for future posts if the job infringes on my daily watercolor experiments.

      Liked by 1 person

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