So what exactly did I learn from drawing each of the 365 days of 2010, through studio work,travel,cancelled flights, stomach flu, house remodel, High days, Low days and Holidays?
A month has gone by now since my very public drawing challenge ended and people have asked what I think of it all now? What did I learn from it? Any surprises? Do I miss it?
10 things come to mind:
1. I once heard the biggest gift you can give an artist, is confidence in their drawing. I had this by the end of the year and it was a GREAT feeling. I also knew how hard I had worked for it. You can't buy that feeling in any workshop or learn it from a book. I have little time now for people who have a thousand excuses why they can't make the time to draw more. I made the time. It was one of the most intense years of my life.
2. How did it feel at the end? I cried when I finished my final drawing, a self-portrait looking tired and weary but with a thumbs up. That is how is felt. Relief. I had made it. I also felt anxious, really worried I would get lazy (I had been before after all) and lose the new confidence I had gained in my drawing The first few days of January, without the challenge discipline being my art priority any longer, I felt a bit lost. A bit panicky. I felt like I was FORGETTING something really important in the day. IT MADE ME REALLY UNDERSTAND THE DISCIPLINE I had put myself under to do the challenge. I gave myself four days off from drawing and then just decided to carry on drawing every day. I am loving it. If I stop drawing, I KNOW I will lose what I gained from the repeated daily flexing of the drawing muscle. It is that simple.
3. It is a real treat to draw now - in private. My commitment in the challenge was to draw for at least half an hour a day. However, it was usually far longer because of the public element and not wanting to post doodles that wouldn't interest anyone. I also wanted to really push myself. Learn. I might add the hours spent researching what I was going to draw each day, making it interesting for myself and maybe viewers, really added up.
4. Posting daily drawings publicly was far harder than I thought it would be when I started January 2nd rather giddy about my fun idea. Ha. . I am outgoing generally but also found I like my quiet time more than I knew, especially around my art. Some days I felt sick to my stomach that I was "so out there" with my art life and felt very vulnerable. Was I embarrassing myself amongst my peers and uppers? Would my clients see the challenge and think adversely of it? "Well, I thought she could draw in the first place?", kinda thing. I handled those moments by focusing on the daily drawing task THAT particular day telling myself, one drawing foot in front of the other, the only goal to see MY skill set improving.
5. I learned I will never be a FACEBOOK rock star like some artists who seem to get 150 comments per post about what they had for dinner, yet alone their art. I have made peace with this. I don't want to share what I had for dinner anyhow.
I learned those types of artists don't comment on drawing challenges like mine either.
6. I learned Facebook can be addictive around a drawing challenge, checking in way too much to see if anyone has liked or commented on the day's efforts. Posted something icky about a drawing that perhaps I should quickly delete? I found myself getting a little OCD. I am happy to be out of Facebook rehab. now with 30 days almost clean.
7. I learned the support of people from all over the world was extraordinary. I really knew people were cheering me on and it meant the WORLD. The words 'kindness of strangers' has a new meaning. I think there were only four negative posts about the actual drawings the whole year. And only one swear word. I was pleasantly surprised by that. My favorite was that I had made a drawing of a baby look like it was 30 years old. Fortunately, I knew that drawing was an o.k. one. Many weren't.
I will confess to getting irritated by the most common negative comment which was: "What's the big deal? I draw every day anyway. Have done the whole of my life..." Yes, but drawing daily, posting and writing about it publicly almost daily, is a whole other world. And by the way, I looked at your drawings. It doesn't look to me like you have drawn every day of your life...just saying...
8. I was VERY moved by complete strangers who contacted me to tell me they were so inspired by following what I was doing that they had started their own personal challenges around not just drawing, but painting, writing, photography, fashion blogging, travel blogging, WOW! I never forsaw that. It was an incredible feeling. I even attended a couple of parties, The Weekend With The Masters, where people I didn't know that well raced up to me like old friends wanting to talk all about the challenge and their favorites drawings. It was a very warm feeling for me.
9. I have learned that when I set my mind to something, and make it a high priority in my life, I can do it. I am capable of extreme discipline which is actually what this challenge took. When I first started I quietly gave myself the odds of three months before I would quit. December, the final month, was the VERY hardest month of all. The disco ball was about to fall and it had lost its glitter.
10. This challenge gave me the confidence to take on another public challenge easily, The Face of Ventura, painting 52 people in conjunction with The Ventura Breeze Newspaper publishing them. I actually started the new project while the old challenge was in its last few days.
The year's challenge also gave me a free market survey as to what got people excited about my work, enough to take the time to post and email, even PURCHASE. Who knew I would sell drawings of mine? Not me. This has given me a new art focus and direction. A lightening of my palette. I really listened to what people were saying - and buying.
Lastly, I owe everyone reading here a big THANK YOU for helping me get through the year! It was an amazing journey for me. I was honored to share in the company of all of you. I am a different artist than a year ago. Lessons learned. New art friends made.
SAVE THE DATE;
365 DAYS OF DRAWING BY JOHANNA SPINKS Show, Opening night reception Friday April 2nd 2011, VITA ART GALLERY, Ventura, California.