Hello Dear Readers. Long time no speak. The last time we met it was Christmas and now Spring is here, hurrah! It’s also that time of year when thousands of creatives publicly take part in a personal project and this post is background to what I’ve been doing for my 2021 commitment.
Keeping busy in Lockdown
Lockdown 3.0 has flown by for me. I’ve been one of the lucky people driven to action during these weird times and I’ve been using the extra hours while my business is closed to work on my creative muscles.
Furiously drawing and painting, productivity has been helped by the annual #100dayproject. If you are new to it, it’s a free to join in, annual event where participants are encouraged to pick an art/creative project, publicly announce it (for accountability) and post updates daily on Instagram. More information on the project itself can be found here if you are interested in the nuts and bolts.
Those of you who follow my art will know that my usual subject of choice is most likely to have four legs and a tail. Well, this year I thought I’d surprise everyone. I’ve chosen #100daysofquirkypeeps and you can find it in my @nickybarfoot Instagram account here.
I find animals easy to recreate in a quirky, expressionistic way (years of doodling those wished for pets from childhood) but when drawing and painting people I tend to get caught up in realism. That’s fine if I’m practicing drawing from life but doesn’t really work when I try and put a person with one of my quirky animals. They don’t fit together.
So, this project is all about trying to free up my Peeps and find a style I’m comfortable with somewhere on the scale of realism to expressionism. If you read on I’ve provided a bit of background on what I’ve been up to to fill in the gaps around the daily pictorial Instagram posts.
When the project first started we had short days, not something conducive to daily production and good photography of the resulting artwork. My solution was to immerse myself in digital drawing, using the very versatile Procreate app on my i pad. That way it didn’t matter if I finished in the dark as no photography was required to post the outcome.
I found myself researching illustration from the early 20th century, a period of style that I am really drawn to (no pun intended). I’ve fallen in love with the fracturing of Thayaht (Ernesto Michahelles 1893-1959) and the oval heads and extra long necks of Eduardo Benito. And both of these artists were well known for their fashion illustrations which sits nicely with my love of textiles and knit design. Oh, and did I mention Benito’s greyhounds… so many boxes ticked!
I love the convenience of digital illustration but do find it way too easy to undo stuff that goes “wrong”. That might sound like a good thing, but it is also very limiting. I’m most happy with the results of my art endeavours when there has been a struggle and a problem solving aspect to it. It tends to push me in a direction that I hadn’t planned. New horizons and all that….
So as the days have lengthened I’m now playing with paints on paper while continuing my research into the 20th century greats. I particularly love the distortions of Pablo Picasso and the colour schemes of Paul Klee.
Most recently I’ve continued my colour studies (I’m currently doing a fabulous online course with the super talented Ardith Goodwin) inspired by Modigliani’s stylised paintings of seated people.
At the time of writing I’ve posted day 58 of the project and I’m not quite ready to settle on a style. Although there is definitely some muscle memory adding to a consistency of eyes, noses and mouths as well as the head shapes, necks and other body distortions, I’m sure there is more to come as my research continues.
The benefits of accountable daily art production
This annual project is definitely a big commitment and an endurance event. However, it is so worth it. The volume and daily practice encourages a step out of my comfort zone to experiment as I’d soon run out of things to post if I did the same old every day. The quick time frame is not conducive to procrastination and perfectionism, and the end result of such a long project is a body of work that can inspire more developed pieces later on.
I thoroughly recommend it as a practice and it’s not too late to start your own. You’d get 40 days out of it if you start straight away, or you could continue beyond the official finish date for your full 100. A commitment for sure but worth it.
What do you think? Are you ready for your 100 day project? Are you doing one already this year? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time.