Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 ends, and so does my daily art project

Here's the 366th hand-stitched square of 2012, the end of my daily art project for last year.  I started the year with a concept and very few rules.  Few rules, because for me, much of the joy of a long-term daily art project is watching it morph as time goes by.  You find yourself abandoning practices and techniques that you used at the start, repeating and transforming others that appeal more.

I thought a year ago that I might change the size of my daily embroidery, but no, I stuck with four-inch squares for the whole time.  I thought I might try out different threads, but no, just embroidery floss (although about a month in, I went from six strands in the needle to three).  I expected to riff on dates with repeated numbers, starting on January 2, and that continued.

So here are some of the things that did change, and surprised me as the year progressed.

First, I got much better at some basic embroidery skills.  My ability to stitch nice curves improved, such that I could reliably make symmetrical circles and ovals that pretty much went where I wanted them to.  (I did not sketch or mark any of my designs in advance; everything was freehand.)  I learned to make elaborate featherstitching without having to look at the book in advance.  My french knots got more efficient and attractive, especially after I read a helpful hint that you should allow your floss to untwist first for greater volume.

Second, I got much more confident in drawing, my lifelong weakness. While I still freeze up at the thought of drawing with a pencil, I seem to be far less inhibited when using a needle.

Third, I discovered that a lot of text was creeping into my daily stitching.  It started with labels on drawings, and then graduated to no drawings at all.

Finally, I noticed that I apparently have an affinity for certain primal shapes and symbols.  On many days of the year I couldn't think of anything to copy, draw or refer to, so I just doodled.  And the same primal doodles kept coming back.  I'll show you some of them later this week.

Meanwhile, today I start on a new daily art project for 2013.  I'll tell you about that too in a later post.  And remember, today might just be a fine day for you to start on a daily art project for the new year!


  1. I want to see the whole thing. The corn and the hourglass are wonderful, you can draw with your needle.

  2. Do you find that these daily projects are informing your larger work in any way or are they "simply" to help you get in the artist's mode from a different perspective? Do you find it hard to create "on demand"? (I ask this last question because, when I did my weekly journal quilts, I found myself a bit stifled creatively and they became an obligation, not a pleasure.)

  3. Vivien -- I consider these projects to be part of my larger work, even though they don't resemble it very much. I regard them as art in themselves, not merely a daily exercise.

    Some days I have more ideas than others, but on the dull days I revert to my old favorite motifs and stitches. I'll be writing about that aspect in a couple of days, so stay tuned.

    I am blessed in that I have never gotten to the end of the year without still regarding the project as a pleasure. In fact, I generally have withdrawal symptoms in January for the old project, even as the new one starts.

  4. I'm fascinated with your idea of a daily art project for a year. I'll have to think on this a bit. The last three blogs I visited and commented on involved embroidery stitches--something I've loved from childhood. Perhaps my brain is nudging me in a direction. Hmmmm. Will be watching for your further writing.

  5. Thanks for the perspective, Kathy: "art, not exercise". I like that notion and perhaps that attitude is was kept me from deriving pleasure from the process. (Maybe my attitude about exercise in general got in the way, too.)

    I look forward to hearing your further thoughts. Good luck with your new daily art.

  6. I'm thinking of doing a daily project for the month of February, but still haven't decided on what to do. I like your collage idea.