I just impulsively signed up for a project called “Thing A Day 2009,” a “yearly collective sprint” wherein participants make one thing a day for the month of February and post it on the site. Information is lacking on the site right now, but some searching around online reveals that this is the third year of the project, and daily projects should take at least 20 minutes but not more than an hour.
I’m pretty excited about this, since I’ve been looking for ways to structure my free time so I actually get some work done instead of lounging about on my lovely new sofa reading all evening or otherwise puttering about wasting my precious free time. I’ve had pretty good success with setting time limits for things I need to do. For example, to get myself to practice violin every evening, I’ve set a minimum 15 minute practice time. That way instead of thinking “I need to practice violin” which seems big and intimidating, I think “It’s just 15 minutes, I can spare 15 minutes.” Even if I’m totally not into doing something I can do it for 15 minutes.
I’ve recently decided that I’m going to expand this practice to include some other things, dividing an hour into three 20-minute segments for three things I need to do to be happy and productive. 20 minutes for practicing violin, 20 minutes for cleaning/organizing, and 20 minutes for making something. It’s a great coincidence that the Thing A Day project recommends 20 minutes for making something, because it fits right into my plan, plus gives me some accountability and a firm start date.
I have decided that the only way I’m going to be able to stick to this Thing A Day project is to impose very strict limits. It would probably be more fun to leave it wide open, but I think that might also lead to a “what the hell should I make today” kind of paralysis. Either that or “cheating”, by doing things like taking photos of whatever I happen to make for dinner or something. Sure, it’s something I made, but I want this to be about making something specifically for the project, and something I wouldn’t ordinarily make. So, here are my rules:
1. Make one drawing a day, on an old computer punchcard. I bought these punchcards months ago, intending to use them for making Gocco prints. Sadly, sometimes when I obtain very cool things for use in art projects, I tend to become intimidated and blocked. I don’t want to waste the very cool thing by doing something that doesn’t turn out quite right, so I dither and ponder and plan and end up doing nothing. So, I am going to force myself to use these punchcards instead of saving them in a box for some theoretical wonderful future project. Its not like punchcards are some precious, unattainable commodity or something. I got these on Ebay for $5.
2. Drawing only. I hardly ever draw any more and that makes me a little sad. I know that my drawing skills have deteriorated as I have focused all my efforts on collage and digital work. No collage, no paint, no photos, no digital for this project. Oh, and I can use either the side with numbers or the side without. I might put a thin layer of gesso on the cards but I haven’t decided yet.
3. Materials- only ink and pencil allowed. Only black and white. I can use water to manipulate the ink. I like the idea of stripping it down to basics, since I’m normally really into color and adding lots of different media, layering, etc.
4. Time- no more than 20 minutes to be spent on each piece. This fits in with my 20-20-20 plan mentioned above, plus is also about the length of my train ride home. If I know I’ll be busy in the evening and won’t have time to make a drawing there is always the train ride. I am also imposing a time limit to counteract my tendency to work and work and rework things. I like to make things and then tear them apart to use in other things. That is not allowed for this project. Each card will remain intact.