Friday 26 January 2007

10th January

DP 10

The first envelope where the postal marking has gone over the drawing, but then that's hardly surprising since I got a bit carried away with this one and drew over the whole envelope in black biro.

Although this isn't my best or favourite drawing, I've always quite liked biro for drawing. Even though it's not as dark or smooth as other pens, I can appreciate the spontaneous and unpretentious quality of biro. For many years I was in an unhappy and quite resentful place about drawing (don't even ask why, I'm not sure now) and the only drawings I could bear to do were quick biro plans in my sketchbook.

Posted: 10.15am on 10.1.07
Returned: 12.1.07

9th January

DP 09

A lot of my envelopes are posted in the evening, sometimes quite late in the evening. Occasionally this is because the drawing or the contents have taken a while to make but more often it's because I like to take my time deciding what to put in the envelope. I try to make the contents of the envelope relevant to the day in question, so doing an envelope right at the start of the day can feel quite unsatisfying to me. Only rarely has an envelope been posted late at night because I haven't got round to it sooner, more often I do it later because it feels like a good way to round off the day. Doing my daily envelope has quickly become a habit that permeates my whole day and I spend a fair amount of the day considering what to draw and make.

Posted: 8.30pm on 9.1.07
Returned: 12.1.07

8th January

DP 08

The drawing is based on remembered poppy seed heads, hence all the little dots. In the past few years I haven't thought of myself as an artist who's hugely inspired by the natural world because my work isn't about that. However, since I started drawing again I've realised that a lot of what I draw is inspired by natural forms,even if it's not directly drawn from life. I feel as though I've come full circle because I started out, as many artists do, by learning to draw from nature.

This is the first envelope where the postmark is on the front rather than the back with the drawing.

Posted: I don't have a note of the time but it was posted on 8.1.07
Returned: 11.1.07

7th January

DP 07

This drawing obviously got rained on during its journey. The ink was pristine when I posted it but it came back with smudgy inky raindrops added. One of the valuable things about this project for me is that it's forcing me to be less precious about my drawing. It's hard to be uptight about what you've drawn when you're sticking it in a letterbox and it's being run through a machine and stuffed in various postbags. The envelopes come back smudged, marked, creased or sometimes even a bit embossed if the object inside is heavily textured. I like those changes, it feels quite freeing to me.

Posted: 10.40pm on 7.1.07
Returned: 9.1.07

6th January

DP 06

I like how clear the posting numbers are on this envelope. This was posted on the 6th, returned on the 8th but you can clearly see from the numbers that it was processed on the 7th. I am increasingly curious about where my envelopes go after I post them. I doubt they leave Bristol, they probably go straight to a local sorting office and come straight back again but I like that they go on a little journey without me. I'm looking forward to posting some letters outside Bristol when I'm next travelling.

Posted: 12.25pm on 6.1.07
Returned: 8.1.07

5th January

DP 05

I like this drawing, a lot of the little drawings I've been doing for the last six months are similar to this - 'variations on a theme' featuring simple shapes with lots of stark black ink. I really like the contrast of the black and white. I've always been fond of using monochrome in my work and even when I do use colour it tends to be strong colours like red, although I have occasionally dabbled in pink. It's nice to be using black again because my sculptural work over the last three or four years has been almost exclusively white or cream.

Posted: 9.05pm on 5.1.07
Returned: 8.1.07

4th January

DP 04

I'm still not totally sure about this drawing but it made it through and I can't change it now. I have rejected some envelopes during the drawing process. If I really hate them then they get recycled or used for normal post (various companies are going to be a bit bemused when they get their cheques in decorated envelopes). I'm glad I didn't specify in the rules that I couldn't do that. I've learnt from past mistakes that you have to give yourself a bit of wiggle room when setting the boundaries of a project.

Posted: 10.20pm on 4.1.07
Returned: 8.1.07

3rd January

DP 03

I like the delicate feather quality of the lines on this envelope.

Posted: 9.50pm on 3.1.07
Returned: 5.1.07

2nd January

DP 02

Wow, this one came home really quickly.

Posted at 12.10pm on 2.1.07
Returned: 3.1.07

Thursday 25 January 2007

1st January

DP 01

Well, here in all it's glory, is the first envelope that I did for the project.

It's taken me a lot longer than expected to find time to scan, edit and upload the returned envelopes but I'm about half way done now. I should get them all on here within the next few days once I've ironed out some kinks in my flickr template and after that I plan to be more regular in updating this site.

Posted: 11.45pm on 1.1.07
Returned: 3.1.07

Monday 15 January 2007

Where it all started

I started The Diary Project because I've been drawing quite a bit in the last 6 months but I wanted the discipline of drawing daily for a whole year. I knew I needed to make this into some sort of defined art project - if I just said "I want to draw daily", it wouldn't happen (I've met myself before so I know this for a fact). I've been drawing in little sketchbooks and I didn't want to split up those drawings but I did want to see what a years worth of drawings looked like when they were displayed as a whole.

I hit on the envelope idea quite by chance after spending a couple of month thinking about the idea of a year of drawings. I'd been testing different papers and thinking of different ways to display lots of drawings but not finding anything that really excited me. I'd been planning to store the completed drawings in weekly envelopes when I suddenly thought "hey, why not just use the envelopes?" Once I'd thought of it, it wouldn't lie down and die; I kept coming back to it. It tickled and interested me in a way that just a year of drawings by themselves didn't. I realised that I would need to put something in the envelopes because otherwise what would be the point of posting them - who sends empty envelopes? I still felt it was lacking something, then late in December when I was brushing my teeth late at night, I suddenly hit on the idea of saving the envelopes and having other people open them and I knew that was IT, I had my project. Afterwards it was just a case of working out the exact rules and waiting until January 1st so I could start.

I've been doing well with the project so far, I haven't missed a single day yet although some of the letters have been posted pretty close to the midnight deadline. OK, so I'm only a fortnight in but it's been a pretty busy fortnight and establishing a new habit can be hard, so I'm pleased that I've kept to my daily practice so far. We'll see how long it takes before it all gets really hard and I hate it: I call this stage 'hitting the wall'. I'm going to carry on doing it regardless of how I feel but I fully expect to have periods where I loathe it. I'm expecting this because it happens with most of my art projects, especially the ones that require a large amount of repetitive action and since most of my art is based around the idea of repetitive action, I invariably get fed up of most of my projects sooner or later. The trick is making myself continue through that 'hitting the wall' stage until it gets good again. I usually find that if I can make it past that stage then that's when I start to get somewhere new and interesting.

So far I've been quite surprised to find that filling the envelopes is much harder than doing the drawings, before I started I assumed that it would be the other way round. That's one reason why I make art - even though I set things up, I'm still constantly surprised by my own art and I always learn so much in the actual making process.

The rules of engagement

Well, I'm a little later setting up this blog than I meant to be. I had intended to do it in the first week of January but I was on a deadline for another exhibition.

Here are the rules of The Diary Project:

1. I commit to posting a self-addressed envelope every single day during 2007.
2. All envelopes must contain something and feature a drawing on the outside.
3. There are no restrictions on what can be placed inside the envelope.
4. Envelopes cannot be drawn or filled in advance, each must be completed within a single day. However, previously collected or made objects can be used to fill the envelope.
5. The daily envelope must be completed and posted before midnight.
6. If I miss a day I cannot draw and fill the envelope later.
7. Any missed days must be documented.
8. I must make every effort to post the envelope myself and other people are only allowed to post the envelope if I am ill or there is an emergency. If this occurs it must be documented.
9. Identical white DL envelopes must be used.
10. Envelopes can be posted from anywhere.
11. Drawings must be on the back of the envelope but can continue onto the front.
12. Drawings must be dated and signed on the day of making.
13. Drawings can be in any medium.
14. Drawings can be any size.
15. Drawings can be of any subject.
16. Drawings can be in any style.
17. Drawing themes can repeat but each drawing must be unique.
18. The project will be recorded in a notebook.
19. The date the envelopes return home will be documented in the notebook.
20. Any deviations from the rules must be recorded.
21. Envelopes will be recorded and documented on a project blog.
22. Envelopes will be scanned and blogged on their return but this doesn’t have to be done on the day they return.
23. The project blog can contain thoughts and reflections on the project as well as images of the envelopes.
24. I am not allowed to open any of the envelopes when they return. Envelopes will be kept sealed until the finished project is exhibited as a whole. At this point, members of the public will be free to open the envelopes and investigate the contents.
25. The contents of individual envelopes will be documented on the blog once a member of the public has opened the envelope.