Are you one of those people who thinks resolutions are overrated and kind of... unsustainable? Me too. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for setting goals and making progress toward them but for me there's too much pressure in a resolution. If I'm being really honest, I don't have a single memory of reaching a New Year's resolution, or even sticking with it past January. I credit this to making my resolutions too big to wrap my head around how to reach them. It's easy to dream and make plans but, until I take a small step toward those dreams, they're just dreams; which is one of the reasons I've decided to take on another 365 project this year. Good things happen and plans come together when you take small consistent steps. I know this isn't groundbreaking information but what brought this idea home for me was a 365 project I did in 2013.
Why I started a 365 project in the first place
On January 1st, 2013 I committed to making a small piece of art every day for the rest of the year. I decided to photograph and post the work here on my blog, on my Instagram feed and Facebook page to hold myself accountable. The goal of the project was to establish some sort of creative discipline, to commit more heartily to something I love (making art) and to sharpen my art-making skills along the way. The pieces quickly grew beyond the ritual. They became a record of days, connections to friends and family, experiments, introductions, art sales and studies for more work.
2013 was a challenging year on a few different levels for me but I kept my commitment because the actions were manageable, it became a meditation of sorts, and I was doing it publicly. By February, I was addicted to it. Some days I spent a few minutes on a piece while other days I spent hours. Some days I felt good about the pieces, some days I wanted to light them on fire. But that's the creative process (Ira Glass says it beautifully here). Before I knew it, I had 365 works of "art" and less of a tendency toward perfectionism (bonus!). That project taught me in a very literal way that big things can happen with a few small actions taken every day and, more importantly, that I'm capable of a lot more.
365 Days of Art Part 2 (when I abandoned this project)
With one 365 project successfully completed, the next clear step in 2014 seemed to be to continue the project for a second year. I thought I’d use 2014’s 365 project to make the work on a bit larger scale, experiment with new materials and media but apply the same intentions of creative discipline, commitment and developing my craft to see where it took me. On Day 39 of the second project I realized I didn't feel the same energy as the year before. The work and routine felt too forced, and unmanageable. So I stopped. It occurred to me that I had abandoned what I had built the year before far too soon and started with a new (bigger) project before I was ready.
365 Days of Art Part 3 (arting and writing in 2015)
Today I've decided to jump in to another slightly different 365 project. Rather then start totally fresh, this time I will continue where I left off in 2013 with the exact same pieces, this time adding text alongside them. The text might be a description of the piece, something I read that inspired it, something about that day or maybe something entirely different. And, as with the last project, it will likely evolve into something I never imagined. I’ll be posting every day here on my blog, on Instagram and Facebook, maybe Twitter too. I'll also be sending recaps of the week's post in my newsletter.
I chose to focus on writing this year because most of my work contains text (often from things I've read) that moves me to capture some or all of it in a painting. It’s also something that I’d like to improve and develop.
Reading and writing are a huge part of my artistic process.
Outside of this project I'll still be committed to my painting practice in 2015 as well, making pieces that will take more than a day to create. Most will be much larger and some will be based off of studies from 2013's 365 project. I’ll be sharing those pieces on this site too.
Doing your own 365 project?
Yesterday I wrote about why you should join me and do your own 365 project this year. I hope you decide to do one too, you won't be disappointed (unless you make it too big to achieve:)). If you do, please tell me where I can go to cheer you on. In the meantime, what is the one big thing you want to accomplish this year and what are the tiny steps you can take every day to get there?
Here's to a New Year full of progress!
Credits // photography by Rebecca Tillett