I've always been exceptionally good at doing school assignments. I always found some way to fulfill the requirements but in a way that also satisfied my own sense of creativity. Having the prompt was what helped- some exterior stimulus to get the ideas flowing. But you only get assignments when you are in school. Although I'm "in school" every day, I'm always the one giving the assignments. I seem to be very good at coming up with assignments and interesting challenges for my students, but for some reason I seem to struggle with challenging myself in the same way.
I've been thinking about how to best arrange my life to allow for more personal creative practice. I don't want to reach the end of 2016 with so little to show for it as I did this past year. So, I've analyzed what works and what doesn't for me. Schedules and deadlines push me. Regular habits keep me consistent in work and exercise.
I considered an "artwork-a-day" project but realized it would be too much pressure to complete something. Have to be realistic. But once a week might be doable. An every day habit of journaling is sustainable. I noticed I kept that up for 4 months last year. I can top that. Now, last year I made a piece that felt very personal and beautiful and expressive, which was prompted by an assignment in "The Artist's Rule", a book by Christine Paintner that the Cathedral used in a weekly book study last year. It was to make a book of days, marking your hours, finding moments for prayer and creativity. I made a long, narrow embroidered strip with color blocks representing each time period of my everyday schedule. As we are starting to go through the book again, I was reminded of the piece and the simplicity of it.
So assignment part 1: every day, jot down any significant events, feelings, colors, patterns, images, or experiences. Cut out a square of magazine paper colors, patterns, textures, etc. to collage into my sketchbook. By the end of the week I have a color sketch of a piece laid out along with a wealth of images, words, and sketches to draw from for inspiration.
Assignment Part 2: Sunday is art day. I know, I make art every day. But it's Monday-Friday middle school, Saturday community arts, and I'm exhausted helping other people be creative and annoyed to not be creative for myself. So on Sunday I'll use the results of Assignment 1 to gather fabrics that best match the color collage sketches. I iron and cut them into 3 inch squares to be sewn together as a strip.
Once the patches are sewn into a strip, I back it and topstitch it. The machine sewing is quick and gives the piece a finished look from the very start.
So far I have completed 2 strips. The first one only represents 3 days because January started on a Friday and I began the project on Sunday, January 3rd. For week 2, the longer strip was a challenge. I pieced it on Sunday, January 10th and got some stitching done. However, I stupidly chose seed stitch to fill a significant area, which took forever. I stitched a little through my substitute day, some more Wednesday night, and finally finished it on Thursday evening. Having the deadline of the weekend was good pressure.
I've so far managed to keep up the journaling for 15 days and finished 2 strips. I was so excited to get started this Friday evening, that when I came home from work I dumped out my whole scrap box to find the best pieces for the week so far, cut and sewed them up already. The strip awaits Saturday and Sunday's colors now.
This is the first time in months I've felt motivated to spend real consistent time in the studio. I hope I can keep this momentum, and that it won't be just another failed resolution. I think that sharing intentions helps build a sense of accountability. I am not going to stress about "having an idea",and I'm not going to worry too much about how it turns out. I am going to keep the format consistent and then see what happens over time. It will be an interesting experiment to see visually over time how I experience the world emotionally and visually. Happy New Year!!