Monday, November 14, 2016

Now What Was I Doing?

Dartmouth's Book Arts Workshop's Sarah Smith is exhibiting her daily drawing project at The Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vermont, beginning with a reception and artist talk from 5-8 on November 4th and running through November 28th.  Sarah gave herself the task of creating and posting one drawing every day for a year.  On exhibit are some 200+ drawings from the project, as well as drawings from the previous year's six-month attempt.
You can see all the drawings on Sarah's Tumblr site at: 

This is how Sarah describes the project and process:

I started this project in an attempt to get myself to draw more.  I used to draw all the time, but as I got more involved with letterpress and writing, my work became more about words and found images.
Now I'm interested in getting back to drawing and combining it with the textual/typographic work.  But first I needed to rebuild my confidence in drawing after many years of not drawing (at least not publicly).

Inspired by prolific artists and friends like Haig Demarjian, Justin Durand, the concept of "Inktober" and a student from the Center for Cartoon Studies who told me they have to draw every day, I decided to give it more of a concerted effort than I did in the past.  However, I found that I needed an extra incentive to keep going.  Posting the drawings online everyday works best, as fear of public shame keeps me on task.

I never intended the drawings to be a daily comic, but posting the images and getting feedback tends to steer the ideas a bit.  I found I was drawing things people would "get".  I wasn't happy with that my first time around and I quit after six months. 
I also felt like I wasn't tending to bigger projects.  Before long after quitting though, I realized how much I missed that time I spent every day with a brand new idea and mini project.  The bigger projects weren't happening - or at least not as much as I intended anyway.  I decided to go back to the daily drawings and posting every day.

During the second time around - that resulted in a full year - I didn't worry as much about whether I was pleasing the audience or not.  I posted with a week delay, so I had a chance to tweak an idea or quickly sketch something if I didn't have the time or energy to finish a drawing.  The pressure was a little lighter this way and I wasn't staying up as late.

It was interesting to see what ideas came from no plans - sometimes just pointing in the dictionary and drawing from the selected word - or from something someone said that day, or from something that's been on my mind.  It's also interesting to recognize common threads, where I might not have otherwise.  For example, I had no idea how many clowns were in the back of my mind.  Or how argumentative the objects in my house were.
I haven't worried much about "style" or being consistent about the materials I use.  This has been a chance to try out a few new things as well as get reacquainted with some old methods.  Some drawings will lead to bigger projects - books or relief prints perhaps.  Some drawings are best left as they are - evidence of the process and working, but not examples of my best work.  Not being precious and expecting everything to be fantastic, useful or more than an exercise has always been difficult for me.  This project has helped me get past this, but I still have a long way to go.

I miss the daily practice again now.  So I'll be up to something again soon.

Written by Sarah Smith

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