Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June quilt date report -- and more thoughts on daily art

Gerri Congdon, whom I "know" from the Quiltart list, had a date with Ellsworth Kelly yesterday.

She and many others from the Quiltart list are participating in a sketchbook project sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  Gerrie's plan for her sketchbook is to make a fabric collage in her book every day, which warms my heart because I am a fan of daily art.

So my question to Gerrie and others who are doing sketchbooks and other small daily art: what happens next?  Does the sketchbook or the little piece of art function as a true sketch (in other words, you subsequently make a larger piece of "real art" based on the small preliminary version) or has it become art already just by being made?

In my own case daily art falls more into the latter category.  I see no point in the ritual of doing something every day, instead of as the spirit moves me, unless that "dailyness" is part of the art itself.  To me, posting seven photos per week has meaning when I know one was taken each day -- but if I just chose my seven favorite photos of the week, and five of them were taken on Friday, the project would lose something in translation.

But I know that other people like daily art because of its aspect of self-discipline.  It makes you sit down and do something whether you feel like it or not.  It's a way to pluck inspiration from nowhere.  And presumably you later do something with that hard-found inspiration.  When my local fiber art group did a daily art challenge, one of the participants said she had made small trading-card-size collages every day and put them into "my idea box."  What a good idea -- but I hope the ideas don't just stay in the box.

I've always resisted the idea of sketchbooks, one reason being that I often feel people stop by doing the beautiful sketchbook rather than using it as a tool to help make "real art."  But maybe I've been too hard on those people.  Maybe the sketchbooks are the "real art."

On the other hand, maybe my challenge to myself is whether I need to think more rigorously about my own daily art, whether I can use it as a jumping-off place to larger, more substantial pieces of "real art."  Hmmm.


  1. I definitely see some of my sketches becoming larger and finished works! I have done the daily art thing several times in the past. For a year, I made fiber postcards to send to people for birthdays, thank yous, anniversaries, etc. Several of those small works inspired larger works. I once found myself in the doldrums and bereft of any inspiration. After dinner, I would force myself to make something - a small art quilt. I found it to be a wonderful way to work myself out of the artistic dump that I was in.

  2. I like the idea of only working when the inspiration strikes. The advantage I see of sketching several times a week or stitching or quilting several times a week is to practice and get better. Another question which arises and which you have raised is what is the purpose of a sketchbook. I am doing my City and Guilds certification and my tutors keep pushing me to keep sketchbooks. However the few that I have been able to see are more like private working papers where you put test sheets with notes etc. ....they are not like the beautiful "art" sketchbooks which I see online and in mixed media exhibits. Maybe we need different titles for working sketchbooks vs books to be seen by others.