Monday, December 16, 2013

Daily art -- making some decisions

First of all, the verdict from my faithful readers seems to be in -- I should keep up with the weekly photo suite.  I wrote last week that I wondered whether this project was getting stale, but several commenters said it wasn't.  So that's all I need -- I'll keep it up for another year.

Other commenters talked about daily art projects in general and how it's so easy to paint yourself into a corner.  They're right that it's bad news to commit yourself to a project that turns out to be more difficult than you can handle.  Not only do you not finish the project, but your self-confidence takes a big hit from the failure.  So whenever you consider a daily art project, you want to give yourself all the breaks -- define the rules in your own favor.

Maria asked about how I manage to keep up the daily art when I travel.  I know that we love to go places, so I always define my daily art to accommodate that.  I have small scissors that are acceptable to airport security, and I'll take just enough cards or fabric squares to get me through my vacation.  For collage I stick with what I collect en route, which is always sufficient; you always acquire newspapers, tourist brochures, train tickets and other paper.  A small ziplock bag gets me through any trip; less space than a magazine.

Linda asked about how to keep it simple.  She asked, "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?"

Well, one sure-fire way is to keep it small.  During my year of hand-stitching daily art I cut four-inch squares of fabric (and knew that a quarter-inch around the edge was going to disappear into seam allowances).  There just wasn't enough room to get too fancy, although some days when I was feeling expansive I would put a LOT of stitches into that space.  Other days I did very little.

not much -- a fancy stitch, but just one of them

In other words, give yourself permission to be minimal.  I've found this year in doing collage that some days I will spend a lot of time searching for the perfect image or pasting down a dozen or more bits and pieces.  But other times I will find two things that seem to go together and quit while I'm ahead.

not much -- just two images

not much -- just two images

Another way to simplify is to allow or require yourself to rework certain motifs.  For instance, Linda McLaughlin, a fiber artist who has been doing daily art for a long time, spent all of this year just doing circles on one of her projects.

I frequently returned to familiar motifs in my year of hand stitching -- circles, spirals, birthday cakes.  If I couldn't think of something new and exciting to do, I just did another spiral or another circle.

I also allow myself a grace period.  Although I have been known to paste up a collage on an airplane or stitch in an airport waiting room, I sometimes have to wait till tomorrow, and built that into the rules. In the year that I took a photo every day, I never missed, but I gave myself leeway to actually post the photos to the blog. So when we spent a month in Germany, and I didn't have remote access to the internet, I waited till we got home to post the pictures I'd taken.

In the years that I sent postcards, my rule was that there had to be a postcard for every day, but if  it didn't get mailed (or written) for a bit that was OK too.  (Once when we were in Argentina I mailed my mother a half-dozen postcards in one envelope, to save money, and it took more than a month for them to arrive.  On that same trip I let our cruise ship mail the cards for me and it took two months!)

Remember, you set the rules, so give yourself the benefit of the doubt and set rules that you will be most likely able to follow.


Update: Linking this to Nina-Marie's blog, where you can check out what other fiber artists have been doing this week.


  1. I, too, enjoy your photo suites, but I wonder how you do them. Do you go out one week looking for red doors or yard art or do you just take a lot of pictures of different things whenever you're out and then put together like objects?

    1. Some of each. When I notice that I have more than one of something, and think up a title, then I may go out searching for more of them. Or I may just go through my photo files (which I try to organize by theme) and find enough for a suite. I am always looking for certain favorite things, year in and year out, to add to my files. But sometimes new ideas show up (thank heaven).

  2. Thank you, making an art commitment is sometimes tough, forgiveness is key. If you can't forgive yourself, can you forgive others. I stuck to my Dear Jane blocks, but there were certainly gaps in time.

  3. You have managed to balance creativity with real life. Good for you and us.
    Leeanna Paylor