Erik Ehn likes to bring big groups of artists together to generate material in experimental, experiential ways. Recently he invited a large group of folx, myself included, to create 100 things by next Leap Day (February 29, 2024). The overall aim is a social reflection on praise. He is gathering 1000 participants (I think he is looking for more people -- if this sounds up your alley let me know). This means a thousand artists committing to generate a hundred artistic gestures each, on the theme of praise. This means 100,000 gestures (they can be small!). As Erik said in his email call, "The math is arbitrary and held out as a motive. 100K is a vest pocket version of Revelation’s 'ten thousand times ten thousand angels'; it lines up with The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa."
With about as much arbitrary yet focused planning, I decided to make 100 drawings of objects, items, living beings, environments, all in the same sketchbook -- so no do-overs -- and all using pigma archival ink pens -- so no erasing. In my teen-and-preteen years I greatly enjoyed drawing. I've played with it here and there since then, but this isn't an art discipline I've particularly cultivated in the last 20 years -- especially drawing images in front of me rather than from memory or imagination. So in that sense I'm letting myself try something new (or old but undeveloped) and not be good at it, like an arm-balancing posture in a yoga class. I'm lowering judgement to an appropriate level, as David Glass asks artists and creative humans to do in his workshops.
After making 100 drawings, I'll go back and add text, as I did on the door (#17) below in the more hasty sketch in a recent writing workshop, trying to put all the steps together in under an hour (and letting myself live with the failures in that stretch). After that, I may go back and try to add to/improve either the drawings or the text -- again, without erasing. Maybe I'll add color. Maybe I'll tend more to shading, form, line, detail. In the pairing of text and image, I'll try to attend to the overarching theme in praise of everyday things, just by paying attention to their qualities, dimensions, articulation.
This week I completed my 25th drawing. See the photos below as process photos, not formal, well-cropped or composed in any way, marking my progress through the quantity rather than quality. Posting after completing every new 25 images seems like a good enough regular update. When I finalize them more with text and so forth I may share those as well, perhaps scanned, around the time I send them to Erik, but by then I will be deep in my fall-spring semesters at Boise State University and the Dramatists Guild Institute Certificate Program, so no promises.
In pursuing this project, part of me thinks, "What are you doing? Isn't this getting in the way of your writing time? You wanted to write a play this summer. Think about all the hours that are now going into this practice and not that script."
But at the same time, I feel myself unlocking something deeper in my creative landscape by paying more attention to these subjects. This isn't a new thought, but I find that I don't really see something until I start to draw it, even more so than when I write about it. After I spend time looking and sketching, everything in the world looks more like pieces of art in and of themselves. The way a light post stands tall apart from other objects in a parking lot. The shadows in between every leaf in the maple out back. The way lines curve. And that makes me approach the world and day with more gentleness, more openness, more willingness to see the magic surrounding us at all times.
So I'll continue and discover what I uncover, not moving toward any finished product, but by paying better attention to what I'm paying attention to, through this process I'll see what unfolds from within.
And if you'd like to participate in something like this and commit to 100 gestures of your own (it can be much simpler than what I'm attempting), seriously do let me know.
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: