Wow. This has been quite the project already. In some ways it's gone exactly as planned and in others not so much. :) Five weeks into it feels like a good time to reflect on things. Maybe I can adjust plans and redo some goals.
I began the year with a pretty specific project plan. I was going to research a dead artist, a different one each month. I had a list of possible artists and had made the decision to begin with Frida Kahlo. I hadn't completely decided but I was leaning toward only choosing female artists. Nothing against the men--if you've followed my blog for awhile you know that I previously studied Andy Warhol, Jean Michele Basquiat, Chuck Close and others. I wanted to research the women because I don't much about them. I sat down and I couldn't even list 10 female artists. Can you? I asked my husband to name five and he couldn't. Can you name 5? 10? It's challenging. There's a need there.
I began the year with a pretty specific schedule. Each day I would read and take notes. I would share a sketchbook page. Each week I would make something more finished, something inspired by the artist, and beyond my sketchbook. And each month, I would share a large painting. My plan for the large painting was to do something similar to this one from 2014.
I thought if I'm drawing each day in my sketchbook, I can use those images to create something larger. So far that part of the plan hasn't worked out. :( I still think it can, I'm not giving up on the large pieces. I just need to rework my plan.
Five weeks into it, I'm having a lot of fun. I love the research part of it. Today I'm making flashcards and a timeline....which is just hilarious to me. I think back to the art history courses that I took in college. I took three--survey 1, survey 2, and history of photography. My worst grade ever in all classes I've even taken (art, math, science, etc.) was in art history survey 1. I HATED that class. It was nicknamed 'art in the dark' and taught by the most boring, old white man ever. There were about 200 students in the class and I would bet he didn't know a single one of them's name. Each test we were required to state the artist, title, and date of about 30 works of art. I was terrible at this. Mostly because I didn't study, didn't memorize it, and really didn't care. And so now to be making flashcards of paintings is just ironic. I still don't care about memorizing the date or even the title. I care about understanding the order--understanding which came first, which much later-- and what other art was being created around the world at the same time and in relationship to world events. That matters to me now.
One thing I've realized is that it takes a while (a week or more) to get a feel for the artist. The first week it's hard to make something inspired by them. So I made the decision that the first weekly finished "thing" would be a portrait. It makes me feel better about beginning because I have a plan and I feel fairly comfortable with portraits after a whole year of them. While the first Friday of the month will always be a portrait, the rest of the Fridays can be whatever. I'm looking forward to trying a few things beyond just painting.
All this scratching has me with more ideas than I keep up with. Each week flies by. During the third week of January I was wishing the month wouldn't end and considering going another month with Frida. By the fourth week, I was feeling like things were wrapping up and that it was the right decision to change artists at the end of the month. I still have Frida "things" I plan to do but I can do those while studying another artist. If this project turns out to be anything like past projects, they don't ever truly end or leave me.
This project has me rediscovering the art teacher within! I never was a big fan of teaching technique (and I absolutely hated grading students on it!) A few basics are important but beyond that I always felt like it was about practice and finding your own way. However, I love process and over time have learned I do love art history--when the focus is on the story and not memorizing dates and titles. I think I'm finding my groove with #deadartistssociety I've just got to figure out how to get a large painting done in the mix of it all.