Thursday, July 28, 2016

29 Days Project: An Update

I previously mentioned that for the month of July, I chose not to make a collection of 10 pieces, but rather create a piece every day and give it away on my Instagram page.  Today is day 28 and I only have two more pieces to go!

Here's some of the work I have created this month, along with some thoughts on this experience.  First, this was an exhausting task.  Some days, I was able to figure out the direction I was going to go for several days at a time.  This made it not so scary when I woke up in the morning and thought, "what am I going to do today?!".  Most days, I didn't have a clue what I was going to do.  While this was extremely frightening, it gave me the opportunity to prove that I could generate ideas on demand, if need be.  Now, not all the ideas were good, but I figured that completing something was much, much better than giving up and not doing anything.  

Having so little time to start and complete a piece meant that I didn't not have very much time for indecision.  When I got an idea on what to do or what direction to take with a piece, I let myself stew on it for a few minutes and then I got to work.  I decided early on in this project that I was not going to let indecision paralyze me.

This process of quick decisions led me to create some unexpected work.  So, imagine, I'm staring at a blank piece of paper.  I have no idea what I want to do.  I grab my water colors because, why not?  I pick whatever colors I'm feeling.  I put them down.  I kind of like the abstract look of it and I stop.  I let it dry.  It's clearly not complete.  Now what?  I grab my pens.  I scroll through designs in my head.  I stare at it.  I ask it, "what do you want to be?!".  I stare some more.  I get a hint of an idea.  I look through my pens, trying to find the right color, the right point size.  I hesitate some more.  I look up when the sunset is.  I calculate how long it will take me to do.  I stare at it some more.  I uncap my pen and get to work.  When I finally finish, I love it, but if I had known, I would have done this differently and maybe tried that...  That's what the process was like for the majority of the days.  Sometimes, I did take it farther and continued with the same idea the next day.  Some of this pieces I know is just the beginning to a whole future collection.

This project was also an excellent opportunity for me to try out some ideas of collections that I've had for awhile.  The opportunity was twofold.  1.  I was able to try it and identify some difficulties and work out the logistics on a smaller scale.  2.  I was able to gauge a reaction of the desirability of the idea in my audience.  Now, I don't create work just on what other's want me to create, but for these few ideas that I find interesting, but don't necessarily set my soul on fire, it was nice to see how people felt about it.

I also loved the opportunity to connect with my Instagram followers more.  To win a piece, all I required to enter was a comment answering whatever easy question I asked.  I didn't want this process to be all gimmicky.  If they wanted to repost the photo, great!  If they wanted to tag someone, awesome! If all they wanted was the free art, then just comment!  This whole project was to give back, not bribe people for publicity.

It was fun! It was exhausting! It was stressful! I have a good start on today's piece, but nothing concrete on what I'll be doing tomorrow, so that will be an adventure!

  I'll probably do this again... but not for awhile!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Morning Practices

I am a self-help book junkie and in so many books, the authors talk about how important it is to start your morning off right because it really sets you up for the rest of the day.  I've tried a lot of different things in the past eight months or so, looking for things that really click with me.  I think it's important for me to be able to say, "Yeah, I tried that and it wasn't for me." when people offer me advice.  If any of my practices resonate with you, that's awesome! If they don't, that's ok! I think it's a good practice to recognize when things just aren't for me.  Feel that freedom.

First, I set my alarm for 30 minutes before I actually need to get up.  I use this time to meditate and ease into my day.  Some days I use guided meditation with the Gaiam Meditation Studios app and some days I just focus on my breathing and clearing my mind.  When it's time to get up, I do my best not to linger, but I don't always have the self control! Then I shower and get dressed while my two year old is still asleep.  Next, I focus on scripture study and journaling.  Journaling has been important to me as long as I can remember and it's an integral piece of keeping my sanity.  After that, I eat a light breakfast and then plunge into my day.

If your days feel off balance, I encourage you to search and try out as many things as possible.  Mornings are important to to set up your day for success, don't cheat yourself on that opportunity.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July Gallery Stroll

I made an effort to branch out a bit for the gallery stroll this month.  Usually, we go to the same three galleries every month and while each one is different and the shows vary, I know pretty well what to expect before I arrive.  So, this month we went to a new-to-us gallery, the CUAC.  Nestled into downtown Salt Lake City, it's a fun little gallery.

One of the two artists they were presenting was Fran O'Neill.  I was immediately taken in by her huge, colorful paintings.  (The photo below was taken from the CUAC website.)

The colors and the movement reminds me of geodes and I love how natural they look.  I spent a good amount of time in her part of the gallery looking at each piece, stepping back to view the overall, and getting close to see the brush marks.  I'm not a fan of all abstract art, but I could definitely see owning one of Fran's pieces someday.  The quality and the vibrancy is just captivating and enthralling!  If you're in Salt Lake, you should check out her show until September 8, and if you can't definitely check out her website!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

10 Things I've Learned from My Monthly Collections

The last 6 months of creating monthly collections has taught me some valuable lessons.  It has been a fun and difficult journey so far, but it has been so worth it and so rewarding.  Here are 10 things that I have learned from the last 60 pieces of art that I have created over the last 6 months.

1. Even though I try to make each collection of 10 a cohesive collection, knowing that I need another idea or direction to go in for the next month has kept me in a state of constant creative thinking.  These collections are always on my mind, whether I'm trying to solve problems in my current collection or I'm franticly trying to think of what I'm going to work on next, I'm always hunting for ideas and this allows me to find ideas in unexpected places.

2. Hand in hand with thinking of ideas, I have also found that working generates ideas.  There have been so many times when I have had no idea what to do or how to proceed on a piece, but I know that I have to accomplish something on it that day or I will be "behind schedule".  So, I sit down with the piece in front of me and I attempt to have a conversation with it.  I ask the piece "what do you want to look like?  What do you want to convey?"  Most often, I don't get the whole idea at once, but I will get a little portion and as I work on that, the next step is revealed, and then the next until it is done.  

3. This leads right into the next lesson I've learned.  Ideas lead to more ideas.  Sometimes I'm afraid that if I use my only good idea for a collection, then I won't have any ideas left for the next collection, but you know what, that has never happened.  For every "good idea" I use, I think of at least 2 or 3 ideas that I need to decide between for the next collection.

4. Although, no one is breathing down my neck to complete a monthly collection every month this year, I had decided before the year began that I was going to do this.  It's the power of commitment that has made this project a priority.  While it might be easy to shirk a commitment that I made only to myself, why would I want to disappoint myself when it's totally in my control to fulfill that commitment?  This brings me to my next lesson...

5. Honoring my commitment proves to myself that it's important and I take my aspirations seriously.  Some months, it was easy to get all the work done.  There was no stress and it just came together.  Some months required late nights and saying no to some things in order to work.  Choosing to finish my collections at whatever cost has allowed to me prove to myself that if I can work to meet my own deadlines, I can certainly work to meet any deadlines that someone puts on me in the event of a show or a commission.  

6. Speaking of deadlines, I quickly learned the importance of planning ahead.  For most collections, I don't need to do much planning ahead other than knowing what I'm going to do by the first of the month.  For the June collection, I had some preparation to do before I left on my two week trip in order to help me be successful.  There's a collection that I plan to complete a few months from now, but I know that I won't be able to complete the drawing and painting of all 10 pieces within a month, so I'm drawing out a couple pieces each month, and then painting them all in the month I plan to sell them. 

7. Along with planning ahead, it also became very important to set a schedule.  My schedules always include extra time for an "off day" or a day when I don't necessarily have to do any work, but still remain on schedule.  When creating my schedule, I also realized that I don't actually have the entire month to create.  Since I post my work up in my shop for sale on the last weekday of the month, I don't work that day.  And to prepare for posting my work on the last weekday, I need to have all the photographing, editing, and listings done before that day.  I like to allow one day for photographing and editing and another for writing the listings, but I have done it all in one day when I've been short on time.

8.  In working on these collections, I've also learned a few things about my process.  If I start with a clear vision, I create a more cohesive collection.  For me, this clear vision needs to start with more than one sketch in my sketchbook.  I am bad at this.  I should probably file this work under "Planning Ahead", but I have a hard time working on sketches when I feel like I should really just be getting to work.  However, when I spend the time to work in my sketchbook first, the collection seems to come together more easily.

9.  When I first started creating collections, I thought I would work in oil all the time because "I am an oil painter".  Yes, I love working in oil, but I was limiting myself.  When I lifted this arbitrary limit, I purchased some really nice pens and learned that I love working with pens.  Then I allowed myself to play with my watercolors a bit more and then I realized that I love watercolor and pens together... So this lesson is about exploring materials.

10. Just as exploring materials has led me to loves I didn't think I'd love, exploring ideas has illuminated some very interesting things about myself.  For instance, I love creating hair, by drawing or by painting, I think hair is a lot of fun.  That interest came about very organically as I was looking at some of my work and realized what drew me in. 

You know how many artists have their "style"?  This, my friends, is a pathway to developing it and it basically comes down to taking yourself seriously (in a good, I mean business kind of way), explore, and do the work.  Lots of work.  I hope that you continue with whatever commitment you've made to yourself, start a new commitment, and learn from the process.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July Collection Update

I'm only 11 days into my July project of 29 days of free art and it has been quite an experience!  On the second day of July, we headed down to St. George for a family reunion and Jake's grandpa's 100th birthday.  I knew it was going to be a challenge to get a piece done every day, especially with all of the family festivities, but I managed to get a piece finished every day!  The giveaway has been so much fun and I have loved sending out art for the past week and a half.  Here are some of my favorite pieces that have now been mailed out to new owners.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Art Inspiration in Washington, D.C.

While I was in Washington, D.C., I did my best to open myself up to any and all inspiration, especially while I was in the museums.

One of the first museums that I visited was the National Gallery of Art.  I was disappointed that the East building, with most of the modern art, was closed for renovation.  So I spent my time in the West building with all the old masters.  Since most of the art I actively search out is contemporary and created by artists who are still living, it was so refreshing to see works by Raphael, Jan van Eyck, Titian, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Monet, and Leonardo da Vinci.  The works of these artists are so astonishing and while I loved soaking in their perfection, I left feeling inspired to go my way and make work that is true to me.  But any chance you get to see work by the old masters, take it!

The next museum I went to was the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  I sort of ended up at this museum by accident and took advantage of the opportunity I had.  While I don't usually respond to photographs, the museum has an incredible show on titled "She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World" that really struck a chord with me.  I can't describe the exhibition with any justice, so I recommend that you check it out on their website, or in real life!

The last museum was undoubtedly my favorite... and I almost didn't make it there!  The Hirshhorn has an incredible collection of modern art and  a lot of amazing exhibitions by living artists, which is just up my alley!  My favorite exhibit was "Our View from Here" by Linn Meyers .  This artist painted huge murals on the walls made entirely out of lines.  Being currently obsessed with the power of line, I was particularly intrigued by her exhibition and how she was able to create such texture by such a seemingly simple element of art.

I loved the opportunities I had to soak in so much amazing art and gathering inspiration from a new place.  I returned home with a desire to explore my own city and art opportunities as I do when I travel.  I wonder how much I'm missing that is just right here!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July Collection

For the July collection, I decided to do something different and, for me, daring.  Instead of my usual 10 pieces for the month, I am going to make a piece of art every day and give it away every day for 29 days.  I'm giving the pieces away on my Instagram page @meganat3511.  I'm not setting any parameters on this project, I'm going to create what I feel like in the moment, with whatever materials I choose to use.

"In it together", is the first piece I made and gave away on Instagram.  I will be posting updates on this project several times this month instead of writing a big introduction at the end of the month.  It should be a fun project!