Final Day of AEDM and the Sketchbook Project: Lessons Learned

The Sketchbook Project Day 30 Spread
©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 30 2010 found paper and thread 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

For thirty days, thanks to Leah Piken Kolidas’ inspiration of creativeeveryday.com I’ve put about 30 hours into my sketchbook project and consistently kept up a daily practice. Things that have made an impression on me:

  1. My best time to work is first thing in the morning. If I wait until after work there are too many other things to do. Plus, it feels great to accomplish something significant in the early morning.
  2. It’s nice to have encouragement. Tom asked me if I had “arted” and read and looked at all my posts. I really appreciate the comments that people have made as well.
  3. It doesn’t matter what I create, but just the fact that I’m creating is important. I’ve not particularly liked a lot of the work I’ve done this month but posted it anyway. As I look through the pages now, I have way less attachment to the pieces. Some I like better than others.
  4. Posting my work was a bit painful, especially the work that I didn’t feel proud of. It’s made me decide that I’d like to redesign my site so that my process is not the first work that one sees when they go to my website. I’ll still post it but not in such an obvious manner.
  5. Last year I had a more exciting experience because I was working on postcards and techniques that ultimately turned into some books and a 60 piece installation. My work in this book has been very page to page and I might appreciate it more if it were single sheets rather than in a book format.
  6. Even after 30 days it’s not easy to have a daily practice. I thought it would be a habit I wouldn’t have to worry about. I’d continue indefinitely. My biggest challenge is getting to bed early enough. If I get enough sleep, it makes a world of difference in my life and in my art making.
  7. I know I want to continue a daily practice. I’m not clear on how it will look quite yet. I want to finish this sketchbook first.
  8. I’m inspired by Claudine Hellmuth’s story of creating 80 works in 3 weeks while at Corcoran College of Art + Design. That’s something I’d like to do and see what patterns emerge and to see the pieces together and as individuals.
  9. As a whole piece, this project doesn’t feel as cohesive as I would like it. It does feel experimental and the process feels like it was valuable.
  10. I like the idea of taking one page from this book and using that for a theme for a smaller book. It would need to be a book that didn’t have a ton of pages though. I like variety and experimentation. I appreciate the unplanned things that occur.
  11. A broad theme that runs through the book is cut or torn paper collage and thread.
  12. I began the book by covering the pages completely and moved into doing much less on a page.
  13. I got the most comments about the date stamp that I was using to date my work.
  14. Some of my initial inspiration for this project was Keri Smith’s morning collages, Michelle Moode’s Sketchbook Project: Everyone We Know and Gennine Zlatkis’ Sketchbook Project.

Art Every Day Month: Day 29 and the Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 29 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 29 2010 found paper and thread 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

I feel like I’ve run out of artful ideas tonight but really what’s true is that I’m tired. Tom and I saw an amazing performance of The Frames last night at the Fillmore and I’m still recovering. We discovered The Frames after seeing the movie Once and three concerts (two of the Swell Season) and three albums purchased, anytime they make it to the Bay Area we’ll see them. Such an incredible example of getting publicity for your band, your art or whatever.

Here’s another great way to get your art out into the world, have someone interview you and publish it. Works and Conversations published a really nice interview with Lisa Kokin. She’ll be giving an Artist talk at the Opening Reception of her new solo show on December 11, 6 – 8 pm at the Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael, Californa. Show dates are November 23 – January 11, 2011. Looking forward to it!

Art Every Day Month: Day 27 and the Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 27 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 26 2010 found paper 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

I’m very fond of Angela Liguori’s blog: Edizioni. It was yesterday that I was there and saw this photo of a paper garland at Terrain and that was where I got my inspiration for the piece above. My stringing of buttons looks just like that although the paper garland is so delicate and pretty. I made a couple of the paper circle garlands. They made me so happy. There’s this hesitation of doing something that someone else has done for mostly decorative reasons. I’m procrastinating. I should be doing other worthwhile endeavors on my list but I feel like I can take this somewhere into an art project somehow. It’s now in my creative arsenal. I’ve known that when there’s something I’m really attracted to it helps when I explore that deeper and find out why I’m attracted to it.

I am made painfully aware that besides a daily creative practice I need to also undertake a daily exercise practice to at least strengthen my back. It seems so appropriate that this would come up this month.

Discovered this beautiful waxed ephemera from J. Morgan Puett via Kathy deRosas who’s doing some incredible installation work among other things.

Art Every Day Month: Day 26 and The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 26 Spread
©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 26 2010 found paper 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

I realize working on these squares shouldn’t be that surprising. I’m concurrently working on square canvases with collaged found paper, beeswax and thread. I have 24 mostly in progress with a total of 36 to complete. I’m trying to figure out how to arrange them. In a way I could interpret these pages as experimenting with arrangement of my larger works.

Today is my sister’s birthday. Her blog makes me super hungry with all of her beautiful food photos. Happy Birthday Erin! It’s also StoryCorps National Day of Listening. Some of these stories bring tears to my eyes.

Art Every Day Month: Day 25 and The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 25 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 25 2010 found paper 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

I’m searching, exploring, wanting something more, analyzing. I look at this project over 25 days and feel like it’s all over the place. I yearn for more cohesiveness and then I feel like I’m being too superficial. This piece I did three days ago has pain that resonated with people. I’m wondering if I went deeper there, explored that pain, that my work wouldn’t necessarily be beautiful but it would be meaningful. And then there could be beauty in the pain or in the connection that is made. Probably too heady and I’m too tired. I do this work because it teaches me about my self. It gives me insight and helps me understand my self.  I know I must do it but I don’t always know why I’m doing the particular work that I’m doing.

Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

Art Every Day Month: Day 23 and the Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 23 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 23 2010 found paper, thread, tape and ink 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

So I imagine it’s not a coincidence that at the same time I voice that I want to quit posting my work in process (This Sketchbook Project) I’m also not getting up early and not doing my creative work first thing in the morning. It makes it easier to quit. I’m not going to but it’s so interesting to watch myself in this process. This is the hard part, returning, continuing. I’m noticing it. And this too will pass.

There’s an urgency that I miss doing this work first thing in the morning, the rush to get it done before I go to work. I love the challenge.

Inspiring TED talk: Alwar Balasubramaniam: Art of substance and absence Found another Jesse Reno interview podcast. Another inspiring one here.

I’m itching to make books.

Art Every Day Month: Day 22 and the Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 22 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 22 2010 found paper and ink 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

So I didn’t realize how much would come up with this daily practice. I’m not editing, I’m just doing and it’s not all beautiful. It’s just what I’ve done and that is my work. I want to stop doing this, kinda of. I’m not sure I want to post my process but I do want to keep a daily practice. I’m unclear at the moment what to do. It’s not so much what other people think but what I think of the work. Why show work you’re not super proud of? For me, part of the answer is to be human and to be real and also to justify to myself that yes, I’m cultivating a creative process and this is what it looks like. It’s ugly sometimes but contrast is important. With contrast one can see the beauty too.

On a happy note, I spoke with Brian Goggin today about his experience at SFSU. Incredible sculpture! I encourage you to check him out. I’m always amazed when people say yes to me. I’m incredibly fond of his work and grateful for the chance to connect. It’s a good reminder to tell people how they’ve touched you.

Art Every Day Month: Day 21 and the Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project Day 21 Spread

©2010 Leah Virsik, The Sketchbook Project Nov 21 2010 acrylic painted freezer paper 8 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches

The Sketchbook Project and Art Every Day Month Challenge

Exploration can be scary but ultimately more rewarding than not. I’ve reached the middle of my Sketchbook Project and one thing that stands out for me is that it’s all over the place. It’s not necessarily cohesive although it it is all paper collage. Each page could stand on it’s own. I’d like to take one page and build it out into it’s own little book. For me, it’s not the physical aspect of creating that’s difficult, it’s what comes up during the process.