ART CHALLENGES ONLINE: DO THEY WORK FOR YOU?

I'm not very good at following through on these online art challenges. Whether based on works we've already made or that we make during the challenge, and whether they are 30 days,100 or more, I start yet rarely seem to make it through the specified number of days. I think because the challenge themes don't always quite fit with my own direction, like when having to follow a map, but sensing I'm going in the wrong direction. Other times I simply run out of art to post that fits with the theme.

On the flip side, these challenges can be a great way to be involved in an art community, practice techniques, initiate a new creative habit, spark some inspiration, perhaps even set new goals. They may traverse topics such as repurposed materials, textiles, painting, sketching, photography, collage, animals, and sometimes are your own artsy choice. Whatever your interest, there is probably an art challenge out there.

I've completed only 2 truly successful challenges to date, both of my own mapping:

One in 2016, with 30 days of taking photos and writing haiku based on each photo. I don't recall if I did this every day or over a period of weeks, but I did end up with 30 days' worth once I was done. It got me into the habit of taking photographs regularly, a practice I still enjoy today when out in nature. And I've used several of the photos from this challenge, and photos I've taken since, as references to create some of my fibre art pieces. 

 

"You can't see the wind
But you can see its effects
Maple seeds galore"

The other challenge, in 2014, was an Alphabet Book, made in accordion style, with each letter of the alphabet on a different page and using a different  technique, provided it began with the same letter. The best part was the chance to practice techniques, for example, for the letter H I learned the Herringbone embroidery stitch, L was about practicing Layering, and N was experimenting with Needleweaving. 




Posting 2 letters every week, and in order of the alphabet, I actually zinged right through from A to Z. It was a project that was creative in many ways, and because I could visualize the final result and see the paths I needed to follow, I quickly got to my final destination. It also helped that friends and followers posted their comments and looked forward to seeing the next set of letters materialize. And I was delighted when, a few months later, I was invited to speak to a local women's group about this project.

I've decided it's time to once again take on a daily challenge. Hopefully I will stick to this goal for a significant part of 2022. Here is my plan:

  • By the end of the challenge I envision having a large textile wall hanging, larger than I have ever made in the past
  • I will work on it (hopefully) every day but for sure each week. If not everyday I will need to make good progress each week, while at the same time not feeling overburdened. 
  • One day may be just pinning on a piece of fabric to audition it, another day may be stitching down fabric, layering or maybe cutting pieces, adding embellishments, or even just sorting through a fabric bin for more to include. As long as there is progress. It could be just 2 minutes a day, or 5, or 30, doing a bit each day, as I do have other projects on the go.
  • I see this project as a Slow Stitch approach - a few minutes each day when I can slow down and be mindful. 
  • Posting my progress weekly either through this blog or on Instagram - and with a photo - may help keep me on track.
  • A key ingredient is to use only fabrics that are meaningful to me in some way - pieces of lace gifted from a friend - bits of an old quilt made by someone in my family (the quilt has been falling apart so I may as well use up the fabric pieces) - part of an old curtain -  linens gifted by another friend - an old blanket - material I had gelli painted but never used - fabrics from a trip to India - perhaps even embellishments such as old buttons or brooches.
  • I have no sense of what the final piece will look like. I will follow wherever the path leads, deciding at the time which fork to take, backtracking when needed. The joy will be in the journey on this one. 

I hope to include this artwork in a group show being planned for the summer. And am aiming for 100 to 180 days of work on this. And it doesn't need to end with the show, it could continue afterwards if it becomes part of my daily creative routine. 

Having pondered this idea for a few months, I had made a start earlier in the fall, but wasn't quite ready then to continue on a daily basis. But now it feels like the right project at this point in my creative journey.

In preparation, this week I cleared and hung the what I had already completed on a wall in my studio where I can see it every day, just like a design wall. Previously the piece was hung over the back of a chair - mostly out of sight, therefore out of mind. 

So far the colours I've been drawn to are soft and harmonious, a direction to follow and see where it takes me.

Here's a picture of they layers I had started. And now I hope to do just a bit more each day - and by letting you know, and posting updates regularly, I hope that will keep me on track.




ART DESTRUCTION, DECONSTRUCTION, RE-MAKING

I can't imagine making a piece of art, then destroying it. I have deconstructed a few pieces on occasion, salvaging most, if not all, th...