For the last two months I’ve been creating a small 4×4 inch work a day as a way to prevent my creative juices from backing up and growing stagnant. When I started this project I had just taken down my most recent exhibition and found myself in an awkward limbo where I was too exhausted from cranking said show (and teaching a five-course load) that I wasn’t really creating anything at all that didn’t have a course heading at the top.
Within 6 months of graduating I had cranked out two individual exhibitions of entirely new work and this outpouring had left me a bit dried out psychologically – the idea of either A.) continuing to create work exploring the same concept or B.) coming up with an entirely new concept was overwhelming and the result was temporary paralysis.
As luck would have it, I stumbled across a little exhibition of “Painting a Day” works at a local gallery during our cities First Friday downtown and had this “ah, ha!” moment. The works on display spanned a 30 day period. Each artist took vastly different approaches. Some had themes – most did not. The interesting groupings demonstrated a sense of exploration and creative abandon – these artists were less concerned with an over-all cohesive aesthetic than simply exploring individual moments in either concept of media.
So, this “work a day” idea seemed like a rather applicable solution to my problem – that very evening I created my first piece. I made a commitment to continue to do so until the semester ended as a way to keep focus and process my beginning thoughts about where to take my work next (without feeling overwhelmed by the all that this process entails).
This process certainly kept me out of my own head, focused the energy and excitement that was stimulated by my students daily in positive and productive “low-pressure” ways, and helped me experiment with different ideas in a more hands on way than a sketchbook. I made works until the day after I entered all my student grades and now I’ve got quite a little collection of interesting pieces – several of which represent seeds for the work I’m currently in the process of researching and developing.
I am trying to embody this idea too!! but also i would stop making small painting on days when I am working on bigger painting!
It was really hard to make the same size work every day but it became easier after a couple of weeks. It’s helps that I have a love of small squares. I know an artist who paints a 4×6 postcard for her son every day (for like the past 10 years or something crazy like that!) – now that’s commitment!