The Book and Mise en Place

It seems pretty easy–the photo shoot is coming up, so I have to ship everything I need to the publisher so I can draw, collage, sew, paint and write my way through a week of photos for the book.

misenplaceIt gets complicated fast. First you decide which projects your are going to show step-by-step, (which you do from an approved outline),  then you make a list of everything you need for those projects, cross out the duplicates, and start packing.  That part is still fairly simple. I learned the process from my husband, who is a chef, and who uses the term “Mise en place,” a lot. It’s French for “things in place” or “get your $h!| together.” Which is what I had to do.

It gets complicated because I am teaching a class at the Anthem (AZ) library tomorrow night. Friday, I am driving down to Tucson to teach Monsoon Papers, which is a project in the book. So there are some items I will have to

  • repurchase
  • take on the plane with me
  • pack and send quickly next week

Since the materials cover a lot of ground–fabric, ink, paint, brushes, thread, iron, watercolor pencils, and about 20 more pounds of things, you don’t just plop them in a box. First I made a giant pile on the floor. Then I sorted them into projects and packed them by project. The ink went into a separate box-within-a-box, lined with paper towels and wrapped in plastic.

When the box was taped shut, I looked around a studio that looked like the vandals (and the Visigoths) had been through it. I won’t be able to do art for another week. It was the first time in a long time I realized how much I shape by identity with my art, and by extension, the tools that make me real.

—Quinn McDonald is writing a book. The writing part is almost over.