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Thing-a-Week 2011: Epilogue

December 28, 2011

I started this project 52 weeks ago with humble hopes and ambitious intentions: to dedicate a year to the continuous pursuit of creativity. Each drawing, painting, photograph, and prop has marked a new milestone of artistic development. While some weeks pushed the quality of my work ahead by leaps and bounds, others found me caught in a rut, unable to draw my way out of a paper bag. Still, some weeks allowed me to explore new media, while others let me refine my skills with familiar ones.

Looking back over a year’s worth of art can be an enlightening experience. At times, it’s easy for an artist to feel as if his or her work hasn’t progressed, and to become frustrated or demoralized. But just like losing a lot of weight after exercising for a year, striking changes can be easy to miss if you’re exposed to them on a daily basis. Certainly, not every thing I posted this year is a masterpiece. In fact, the majority of these pieces are far from what I’d consider “finished” pieces. But each thing served in some way to strengthen my creative resolve, be it through raw technical improvement, or simply because it kept pushing me to think creatively in a week where I would otherwise leave that part of my brain dormant.

So, where does one go from here? As the last few weeks have ticked away, bringing me ever closer to the project’s end, I’ve been considering several other options on how to improve upon this year’s format. In retrospect, Thing-a-Week 2011 showed me firsthand the benefit of two very important practices:

  • Draw Every Day
  • Show Your Art To Other People

That in mind, the most obvious would seem to be Thing-a-Day, but there are a few flaws in such a model. Although Thing-a-Week has pushed me to work under self-imposed deadlines and prevented me from slacking, it’s also created some (perhaps avoidable) anxiety in the weeks where my creative drive was at its most sluggish. Drawing every day is an essential part of improving one’s art; showing that art to others, be it for critique, or simply for the benefit of sharing it with an audience is also essential. But these two facets are not permanently linked — while drawing every day is useful for the artist on a raw technical level, not every work created on a daily basis is necessarily “art”. And while one can create a slippery slope by self-assessing the merit of every individual sketch, it’s just as important for an artist to create a baseline of quality for public viewing. In other words, not every piece should make the cut. Certainly, some avid followers might be interested to view an artist’s progress on the granular scale, taking in everything that comes from his pen, but in most cases, wider audiences are only interested in the more complete pieces. In fact, by failing to draw a clear line between “practice work” and “finished work”, an artist can even do harm to the audience’s perception of his proficiency.

With 2012 just days away, I’m certainly going to continue on this trend of doodling every day and attempting to produce something more substantial at least once a week. But moving forward from Thing-a-Week 2011, I plan to create a clearer distinction between the polished work that goes into my portfolio, the playful work that’s simply for enjoyment, and the practice work that won’t be placed in the public eye. In the weeks ahead, this will be reflected in the structure of this blog and my online presence as a whole; keep following my posts, and be sure to watch my Facebook page for further updates.

Before I put a lid on this wonderful little project, I’d like to give one last shout-out and a huge thanks to fellow artist Caitlin Crawshaw, who will also be completing her side of the project this week. In those weeks where one of us got lazy, the other has been there to encourage and goad us into keeping up with the project. She’s also made some fantastic progress in her own work, which you can track on her blog right here. Thanks Caitlin!

In the mean time, I’m off to warmer climates for the next week for some much-needed R&R. Rest assured, I’m taking my sketchbook with me.

Previous Thing-a-Week posts:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 10.1 | 11 | 12 | 12.1 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 28.1 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 34.1 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 51.1 | 52

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