A "Monday Maybe" for you to chew . . .

Several years ago, Hannah and I were visiting studios on an art walk in some converted warehouses in north Minneapolis when we came into a room and found an amazing sight -- there were 365 dolls hanging on one soaring wall, each in its own numbered square.

We looked at them for some time before approaching the artist to hear the story of  the ambitious project.  She told us that the dolls were a journal of sorts.  She had made the decision a year before to attempt to make a doll every day for a year.

Some were more detailed than others, of course, and there were dolls of all kinds.  The Christmas day doll, for instance, was very simple and made from candy wrappers left from Santa's goodies.  There were dolls made from pieces of trash that had been gathered on a walk, a doll made from dough, a napkin doll, dolls from sticks and other natural materials, and many stitched dolls.

The artist had just completed the project, and said it was exhausting and that she'd not fully anticipated how difficult it would be. But she obviously took great pride in it.

And it was indeed impressive to see.
We were riveted and looked for a long, long time,
imagining the day that might have given birth to each doll.

When I got started blogging and began perusing other blogs, I noticed this was a fairly common idea, and came across several artists who tried the "something every day" approach.  I also noticed that many gave up, or that the project morphed into something less ambitious as the days ticked by.

But I was intrigued by the idea of flexing my creative muscle every day for a year, and filed it away in the "things that would be good for me" section of my brain, where I also keep such things as "resume practicing the piano", "eat whole grains" and "take up gardening."

A few years ago I got close to beginning such an undertaking when I contemplated doing a drawing -- even just a doodle -- every day for a year.  But my drawing phobia got the better of me, and I decided I'd rather eat whole grains.  (I didn't do either.)

But then a few weeks ago I was whisked into sudden participation as a result of a sentence I heard.

It's almost as if my brain had been waiting for just the right thing -- something that it could really wrap itself around and chew on for an extended period.

Brain cud, so to speak.

And so I started my "Happy Thought" project.

Things are going well so far, although we haven't had Christmas, vacations, illness, computer problems, or any of the hundred other things that come up during the course of a year.  And of course the cud is still fresh. 

365 days of chewing could be asking a lot from any flavor of gum . . . but it's working well for me because it's based in words, and words are something I can turn over and over whether I'm in the shower, cooking, watching Bonanza, shoveling snow or trying to sleep.

Words are some of my oldest and dearest friends.  So I'm delighted to spend a year in close company with them.  And I think the every day discipline is a basic concept that could have a positive effect on my art, but also on my life in other areas.

And so I'm putting the challenge out there for you to think about.  Your own version, of course.  You may already be devoted to whole grains but wish that you could perform complicated yoga poses with a serene look on your face. Or paint pictures of what that might look like.

Lift up the world a little every day, 
by putting a tiny bit of something new in it.

And why not?  It's an act that encompasses 

growth and 

in a neat daily package.  Perfect.


Allie said...

The only thing I can do daily is get out of bed. Wait - sometimes I stay there. I wouldn't count on me to come up with something.

susan m hinckley said...

I don't believe it, Allie -- you seem to accomplish a whole lot of creative work. But getting out of bed is a great place to start . . . and if there's room for improvement, I think that would be a worthy goal! I have a child for whom it would represent progress some days :)

Chelsea said...

i love this post mom. i should use it as my personal statement.


susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, Chels. . . nice try. You're not going to get out of writing it THAT easily. But borrow at will -- I won't tell! xo

Amelia and Justin said...

I have always liked the idea of doing something creative every day. For a long time my "project" was to write in my journal everyday. I did really awesome for about 5 years, but have since stopped that habit - I know, stupid timing. Anyway, I think you are right about finding something that really speaks to you. I must just still be looking for my perfect fit.

luanne said...

Making a public commitment to do a particular thing every day for 365 days is pretty brave! I admire your courage in taking on this project. (Although it is a great excuse to regularly peruse old publications for fun illustrations!)

A daily commitment would require more discipline than I've found within myself so far, but I'll be thinking on it.

p.s. Love "brain cud", very apt.

Moonsilk Stitches said...

It didn't start as a commitment, but early this year I began taking a short walk each morning, first thing (well, after getting dressed), just up one side of my one-block-long street, down the other and back home. Once the weather turned nice, I added a loop around the house and yard most mornings. I've never valued repetition, but I'm hooked. I plan to do this as long as I can. I'm seeing new things everyday on the block I've lived on for thirty years. Perhaps if I'd had a dog to walk,t his wouldn't be such a revelation, but we don't and it is.

I began with an intent to journal after and also to make a statement about what I had to say. I find I don't have much I want to say (which can get in the way of making art--I need to have something I want to say to get me started). But the journaling and thoughts have fallen by the wayside--I'm more intent now on being in the moment when I'm walking and not thinking about what I want to write about it when I'm done.

Amanda and Christopher said...

Better late than never, I have taken your challenge and will be painting every day for 1 year. Terrifying and exciting. Thank you for the inspiration Susan.

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