Saturday, September 29, 2012

Daily art -- "So, why?"

When I wrote earlier this week about my daily art projects, Helen Howes, one of my internet friends, left a provocative comment:

"I understand completely the need to make Daily projects, if there is less Art in ones life than one needs; for discipline; for a little pleasure each day; to make Personal space etc. etc. But I find that mine tend to founder, because all my life is one big thing, which is Art. The small things (daily projects, blog etc can get lost, and I get tired.. I suspect your life is pretty much like this too.. So, why?"

I had to think about this for a while.  I agree with Helen that the small things can get lost in a busy life.  I guess one reason I do daily art is to prevent it from getting lost.  It's kind of like joining a gym -- the temptation to skip a day is easier to resist when you have made a public commitment.  

In fact, one of my daily art projects turned out to be kind of like joining a gym in terms of making me get out and exercise.  I hate to exercise, and am always having to find ways to bribe and threaten myself to do it.  I discovered that my commitment to take a decent photo every day was a strong impetus to take a walk every day, because it was a whole lot easier to find a picture when I was out and about than if I stayed home (only so many times you can interestingly photograph your rug).

I suspect that many people who do daily art embrace it for just this purpose: to force/encourage/bribe themselves to make the work.  The busier the schedule, the more this may be a compelling motivation.  But as Helen points out, when making art is already the focus of your life, do you really need encouragement to make more?

Some people may use daily art as a learning tool.  If you do something every day you can't help but get better at it -- think of piano practice, or conversational Spanish.  Again, I know that taking a photo a day greatly improved my photo skills.  But I regarded that as a fringe benefit, not as a major motivation.

I realize that I look upon daily art as a work of art, not as practice and not as mere warmup exercises.  In addition to the stuff I make, the dailiness and the ground rules are an integral part of this work.  It's conceptual art: the idea is about as important as the execution.  Somehow I think that doing an embroidery every day for a year is different (and I guess in my opinion, better) than doing 365 embroideries over some indefinite period of time.

That's just the way my mind works; your mileage may vary.  If you've done daily art, why did you do it?  If you're thinking that maybe you might want to do daily art, what aspect of it is appealing to you?  Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. I intend to start a daily art practice on October 1st for thirty days. The reason is because I tend to lose my way by getting caught up in my job, my friends, reading blogs, etc. and leaving art for whenever. In my case, that can be translated to never or until a deadline is looming. I know my ideas and my work is better when I am making something in some medium frequently. Some of it may be practice, some of it may be "the real thing."

    I'll start with a commitment to thirty days and then see where it takes me. Thanks for a thought provoking post at just the right time for me.

  2. In 2011, I did a small daily painting every day (except for July and August, the heat makes me stupid and lethargic). I found it freeing. I didn't get caught up in "must be a naster work" because I was always going to do another one tomorrow. And because I was doing something every day, I tried a lot of different things -- splashing counted, doodles counted, Rorschach-style blotting counted, rendering (not my strongest suit) counted. It was a wonderful adventure.

  3. I'm impressed with this well-thought-out response, and grateful for the insights..

    It's sometimes hard to understand the problems of "not enough time" or "no motivation" if these are not your problems.. "no energy", now, that one I find easy.. Bless you Kathy, and keep on blogging.. You're an Inspiration