Another member of my textile group who accepted the Daily Art Challenge was Alyce McDonald, who usually works in collage and assemblage. She decided to do a series of small collages on 5x5” stretched canvases. These are too elaborate to complete in a day so she determined to do one every week; she ended up with 15 of them.
Each of the pieces features a number, some more prominent than others in the composition, but the numbers are arbitrary and don’t correspond to the week.
Alyce says, “I enjoyed it, but I would not do it again! Somehow it takes my brain away from what I should be doing.” I can sympathize with that feeling; I too have very strong notions of “what I should be doing” and often feel guilty when I do some other (lesser?) form of art instead.
I know that great artists are focused on “what they should be doing” to an extent that most of us schlunks are incapable of, or perhaps more accurately, an extent that most of us don’t want to go. I choose to do other things in life – volunteer work, walking, cooking (and eating), the opera and orchestra, travel, computer games, writing this blog – that take me out of the studio. I don’t really feel guilty about most of those activities taking me away from “what I should be doing,” even though I know I could make a lot more art if I would turn off the computer and go down to the studio. But I do feel guilty to some degree when I manage to deliver myself to the studio and then, instead of working on my serious pieced quilts, spend the day making collages or calligraphy or baby quilts or grab bag challenge pieces.
Yes, we’re told it’s good for an artist to play every now and then, that it opens the mind to serendipity and gives permission to make mistakes and invites new ideas and approaches. But we also are aware of the ticking clock. Terry Jarrard-Dimond recently had a long interview with Nancy Crow on her blog, and asked her, “If the good fairy showed up at your house, what one wish would you have granted for yourself as an artist?” Nancy said, “More time, 40 more years, 40 more years of physical strength and a brain to match.” Those of us who, like Nancy, are actuarially unlikely to get 40 more years, can especially second that motion.
So I understand that Alyce is happy to be done with her regular art – but I am also greatly admiring of the beautiful little pieces she produced during this challenge. And I should really stop writing and go downstairs and sew on my Quilt National entry.