Friday, May 21, 2010

The Daily Art Challenge

The first post I ever made when I started this blog had to do with “daily art,” my own name for the practice of an artist committing to make a certain piece of art every day (or week, or whatever). Part performance art, part self-discipline, part the application of the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, these commitments can lead to world-class art (see On Kawara or Nancy Chunn, below) or to a daily warm-up for “real art” or to anything in between.

Since January 1, 2001, I have gone only one year and three weeks without a daily art project, and during those interim periods I found myself distinctly itchy. I have asked myself many times what I like about these projects and it’s hard to answer.

2001: A Quilt Odyssey
My first daily art project: a square for every day in the year

In part I think that the sheer cumulative weight of the daily bits gives substance and gravity to whatever I produce, much as I think that working in series with larger pieces makes sense artistically. I also think that the inexorable nature of the project adds a layer of interest for the viewer; it’s a little bit more impressive if they know that you did this every day even if you were sick, even if you were in Europe, even if it was Christmas.

In part I like the fact that I embark on a journey without knowing exactly where I’m going. If by chance you look at the first week of my 2010 art project, which involves taking a photograph every day, you will see that my captions were long and clunky; very soon I changed that approach and now am using shorter, more evocative words to complement the photos. That’s just a tiny example of how with the best of intentions you can head off in a slightly wrong direction and make course corrections later on, without compromising your original rules.

In February I made a presentation to my local fiber art group (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) about daily art, and challenged people to try such a project for one month. Yesterday people reported back and showed what they had done.

I’ll write soon about some of the pieces that they showed. For today, I’ll share a bunch of links to other artists who have done daily art, which I gave out at my February presentation, for your entertainment and possible inspiration.

On Kawara (famous!!) -- send a postcard every day

Nancy Chunn (famous) -- draw on front page of NYTimes every day for a year

Jeanne Williamson -- quilt or mixed-media weekly – new format and rules each year

Terry Jarrard-Dimond -- surface design for quilts -- weekly in 2009 / now monthly

Linda McLaughlin -- daily photograph

Elizabeth Perry -- daily sketch

Leigh Bunkin -- daily drawing for a year

Todd Smith -- climb a tree every day

Brad Liening -- daily poem

Charla Muller -- daily sex (wrote a book about it) -- this one is on my list both for comic relief and for the rigorous thought process she used to define her commitment, not all that different from defining your daily collage or quilt block


  1. Kathy, Thanks for sharing the"list" - I loved seeing what others have done daily.

  2. thanks for sharing this - I think you've motivated me to commit to a daily art project for 2011 - not sure what it is yet but I will give it serious thought today - my day set aside to THINK about "things"