Crystal: When we met (virtually) you were on day 84 of your project. So what prompted you to start and what were the rules you set for yourself?
Crystal: Wow! Yeah it's often these big, stressful life events that uncover the will that it takes to do a project like this. So tell me about your routine. With 158 days under your belt, you must have found a system that works for you.
Kierstan: Hmmm...routine...I think that's something I really struggled with even with 158 days. There were a few days along the way where I felt really disciplined and accomplished when I'd have my piece done before noon but I was so rarely finished that early and I think that's one of the reasons I was never really able to use this project as a warm up...I'd procrastinate away the day and then have to crank something out before the day was done. Most days saw me sitting around on the computer until 10am or so (my "day" starts around 730am). Some of that time was spent reading about artists, techniques, mediums, surfaces, etc, but there was also an inordinate amount of time spent on Facebook. I don't even play any FB games but I get sucked into so many of the articles and stuff posted by friends and pages that I like. Some days I had no ideas at all and would struggle to come up with something. Other days I had too many ideas and was paralyzed by indecision. On most average days, I'd pull my head out around 1230 or 1pm and get started. I do some tutoring on the side in the after school hours on week days (generally between 3pm and 5pm) so I'd have to stop and come back to my work in the evenings after dinner. I'd then work between 6pm and 8pm generally getting photos taken and posts written around 830pm. More often than not I would end the day with a finished piece of art but some works spanned several days. While I did this procrastinate and then work hard for most of the 158 days, I'm reluctant to say that this routine really "worked" for me. I was often hard on myself for procrastinating so much and some days my daily art project felt like an obligation rather than something I really wanted to do. I generally dislike routine and schedules but my procrastination issues definitely make it tough to get anything done without some kind of rules in place.
Crystal: Recently you decided that it was time for the project to end. I thought it was so brave of you to post that. You outlined your reasons and you seemed to be somewhat relieved by the decision. What led to that decision and how did you know it was the right time to end it?
Kierstan: I really hoped when I started this project that it would propel me toward making more work, creating series of works, that I would discover my voice. While I made a LOT of work in those 5.5 months and I grew a lot technically and artistically, I found myself using the daily art project as a crutch, doing just what I needed to do get that done and nothing else. My procrastination was getting worse and the quality, I think, was suffering. I was also starting to feel on more days than not that this project wasn't really that fun anymore and was feeling like more of an obligation. Another thing that I didn't mention in my Facebook/blog post was that I was investing way too much in the Facebook likes/comments. Now there are lots of reasons why someone wouldn't "like" my post besides them just not liking it, Facebook's unknowable algorithm, time of day I post, etc but I was finding myself getting frustrated and sometimes kind of down when people weren't "responding" to my work (especially when it was something I thought was really good) and I think I just got to the point where I knew that I had to stop investing so much of that energy into this project. I know that not everyone is going to like my work in the "real" (non-Facebook) world but I also won't be "interacting" with those people on a daily basis so I think it would impact me differently. I realized that the daily "like" seeking part of this project was getting unhealthy and I needed to end it. I had been mulling over the idea of ending it for a few days. Part of me didn't want to stop because it has helped me make art in a reliable way and people on Facebook have shared with me how much they look forward to and/or enjoy my daily posts. I also was reluctant to stop because I have a bad habit of quitting things when they get hard or when I'm not good at them and I didn't want to be doing that again. But I quickly realized that I put 5.5 months into this project and I didn't quit when my dog passed away just a week into it. I didn't quit when I made work that I thought sucked so it didn't feel like I was quitting for the usual reasons. All in all, I knew it was the right time because it felt right. My heart was telling me that it was time to move on, time to let this project go so that I could make the space for something better to happen.
Kierstan: Thanks! What's next...I am kind of taking a break. I've still drawn everyday since I ended the project but it's been with much less pressure and has been more about just doing it because I like it. One fantastic outcome of this project was that it inspired a huge list of ideas for new work and new projects (all of which I made sure to write down!). I liked the idea of this challenge but I just need more structure, as much as I resist it. So, I figure there will be some short-term challenges aimed at making some series of works and I'd like to get back to painting (much of my time in this challenge was spent on drawing). It's also time for me to get my work out there beyond the internet. I'm currently looking into artist groups and societies to join and contests to enter to give me a wider audience but also a community to be part of. I guess I don't have much of a plan in mind which might be disastrous but might also allow for the unexpected...
Kierstan: Hmmm...advice...I think I would suggest to someone thinking about taking on a daily art project to reflect on why they are considering it, do they want to build an art-making habit, to stimulate creativity, etc and think about how they work best and build the project to take advantage of their strengths. I think something like this can illuminate strengths and weaknesses. In my case it really shined the light on my procrastination issues (which really didn't need more illumination) and while I ultimately enjoyed the freedom that my lack of rules/structure provided, I do wonder what more I may have learned and produced in the last 5.5 months had I had more rules. But I think my biggest piece of advice to everyone (not just those considering this type of project and not just artists) is to let go of all attachment to outcomes, surrender to, and simply enjoy the process (art-making and life).