Friday, December 13, 2013

Daily art: the December dilemma

Faithful readers of this blog know that I am a lover and practitioner of Daily Art, which I describe as making art regularly (daily, weekly, monthly) according to a self-defined system of rules.  I have been doing Daily Art of some sort in all but one of the last 13 years, and the year I didn't left me feeling empty.

daily art 2012 -- hand-stitching

In fact, in recent years I've been doing multiple Daily Art projects, with a weekly task on top of my daily assignment.  I find that I love the challenge of working to specifications and rules; it's no coincidence that I also love sudoku and crossword puzzles.  But I mainly find the discipline of making something EVERY DAY to be liberating and exciting.

daily art 2010 -- photography

Liberating because you don't have to make something great, you just have to make something.  You can experiment and produce a dud and it doesn't matter, because tomorrow you will get to make another one.

daily art 2001 -- quilt squares

Exciting because when you do something 365 times you are bound to have some magnificent moments; you are bound to learn, to change, to grow as the year passes.

But inevitably as December rolls around, the Daily Art aficionada is consumed with the big question: what shall I do next year?  To recap, I'm doing two regular art projects this year: a collage every day, and a weekly "photo suite" of several pictures on a theme.  I post the photo suite on this blog every Sunday morning, but the daily collage appears only on my other blog, Kathy's Daily Art.  I also post a "Sign of the Week," a series that has been going on since 2010.

daily art 2013 -- collage

I've pretty much decided to stick with the daily collage next year.  I've learned so much this year but there's so much yet to learn and do.  And besides, I've cut a bazillion nifty photos out of newspapers and magazines, and even organized them into file folders, that I haven't yet used.  I'll also stick with the sign of the week, simply because it's easy and fun.  But I'm not sure about the photo suite.  It may be getting stale (please let me know if you have an opinion!)

weekly art 2011 -- bundles

I tell you this partly because it's what's on my mind right now, and partly because I encourage all my artist friends to consider doing Daily Art of their own.  Some of my friends have tried it and hated it, but others have tried it and loved it.  I've tried some projects that turned out to be duds and got abandoned quickly (once before the first day's work was ever completed), but I have generally been really happy with this approach.

The other day, in fact, somebody asked me whether I feel great relief at the end of the year as a project draws to a close. No, I said, I generally feel bad that it's over.

If Daily Art at all appeals to you, I recommend careful thought in setting your rules to accommodate your life. I also recommend a trial period before you commit to a whole year. It's discouraging to embark upon what you think is going to be a year-long project and abandon it in February, but if you only committed to do it for a month and you don't re-up, that doesn't feel bad.

I like to start my projects on January 1 but some people prefer to start on their birthday or Bastille Day or just whenever they think about it.  Try it -- you might just like it!


Linking today to Nina-Marie's blog; check it out to see what other fiber artists have been doing this week.


  1. The photo suite is not getting stale. Every one shows me something new about "like"ness. (Aside from being individually pleasing shots.)
    The collages, however, give me an unpleasant brain itch which I have stopped trying to analyze and have just stopped looking. It puzzles me, because what is patchwork but fabric collage? and patchwork (not quilting, actually) is what I do for art.
    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Hi Kathy, I'm working on the same dilemma. I'm already continuing my daily photos, know what I'm going to do for my daily stitching that starts in January, but my weekly and monthly projects are still up in the air.
    I also feel a bit sad when a project reaches completion, but its offset by the excitement of the new one. I think that's part of what keeps me going.

  3. The photo shoots often produce a chuckle or more. Hope you continue.

  4. You wrote: "It may be getting stale"
    No, i think it's getting BETTER. Keep it up.

  5. I love the photo suite. I often laugh out loud when I see them. And every time I see your collage work I thinkI want to do that! I really would like to embark on a daily project, but feel so over extended right now that I think I would fail. How do you do it when you travel?

    1. I've been deliberately choosing travel-friendly projects. For collage, I pack enough cards for the trip, plus a little scissors and a gluestick. I either date-stamp the cards in advance or wait till I get home. For hand-stitching, enough fabric squares, the scissors and a few skeins of floss. I have a camera with me all the time.

      That's one of the things that you have to consider when setting the rules for your project -- make sure you give yourself enough wiggle room that it's doable.

  6. I think I found December the hardest. Now I realise I hit that part of me that doesn't finish some things because if you do, then you don't have it to do any more.

    Even still, I have already got ideas for continuing the bead project for the next year.
    One problem I have - and perhaps because I am doing something a little different under the larger umbrella of beading onto something - is that I have so many ideas on that month's theme that I can't stop. I am making several extra items to round out the colour scheme or whatever. I think I am okay with that, because it means I have found something that works. And because I intend to use the results together on a larger project.

    Like others, I think the photo suite is interesting and often amusing.
    I'd be interested to have you talk about what you do with previous years' projects, especially larger ones like the bundles.

  7. I like the idea of committing to a Daily Art project and having started projects in the past I know that I tend to over-complicate things - trying to fit too much into a piece. Have you any suggestions for keeping a stitching project simple?