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.

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