I completed my first 75 drawings in Erik Ehn's 100K Project this week. That means I'm three-quarters through the first stage of the process I'm undertaking for this big group project. See more context about what the heck that all means below the slideshow of images.
While completing the last 25 drawings, I've thought more about seeing and attention. Not just what I'm seeing and paying attention to (in that moment and throughout the day/week/season/year), but the idea that whatever anyone is making, whether creatively (a play, a film, a painting, a novel), relationally (a conversation, a touch, a connection), things big and small we make in all parts of our lives (avocado toast, a plan for the day, a baby) and even what is destructive (a hate crime, a bomb, an insult) is an assemblage of what we pay attention to, what we see and what in turn pays attention to us.
Thinking about that, the simultaneous ultra-simplicity and overwhelming complexity of that, I start to pay more attention to what I'm paying attention to, how that impacts me, how that object or way of seeing makes me feel or what it makes me think about. Which makes me think about the space between those focused blips of attention: when I'm distracted, unfocused, floating away into daydreams or sleeping. Even in those moments I'm paying attention to something (which makes me want to pay attention to whatever that is).
I wonder if this mindset is getting me paying attention with better intention, to what that means in action and what that feels like. I hope that's what's happening.
Because I'm paying attention to that intention (of how to pay attention with greater intention), then perhaps that intention is also paying attention right back to me. Magnets pulling each other closer together.
Maybe these thoughts are starting to spiral in on themselves (or fractal out?) because for the first time I'm reading House of Leaves and that labyrinthine dive is pointing out some uninhabited hallways growing and reconfiguring inside my internal conch shell.
Don't worry about paying attention to all of that. You can just look at some little drawings.
Again, for more context (basically a repeat if you've read either of my last two posts):
Erik Ehn likes to bring big groups of artists together to generate material in experimental, experiential ways. Earlier this year 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 (he's still 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, ephemeral, even 100 blinks in time...). 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."
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. I'm lowering judgement to an appropriate level, as David Glass asks artists and creative humans to do in his workshops. I'm setting the bar low enough for myself that I can trip over it and fall onto my sketchbook, as I learned from Dano Madden, who learned that from Jeni Mahoney (who may have been quoting Rick Dresser) in reference to the writing/playwriting process.
After making 100 drawings, I'll go back and add text. I'll write whatever strikes as I look at each image again. After that, I'll 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 comes from an exercise I learned from Cindy Shearer in another durational text/image project I participated in while I was an MFA student at California Institute of Integral Studies.
This week I completed my 75th drawing. See the photos (51-75) above as process photos, not formal, well-cropped or composed in any way, marking my progress through the quantity rather than quality. You can check out 26-50 in the post below this one and 1-25 in the post below that. When I finalize them more (with text and so forth) I plan to share those as well, here and/or on Instagram.
Pursuing this project, I feel myself unlocking something deeper in my creative landscape by paying more attention to these subjects. I find that I don't really see something until I start to draw it, even more than when I write about it. After I spend time looking and sketching, everything in the world looks more like pieces of art. The way a light post stands tall apart from other objects in a parking lot. The shadows in between every leaf in the maple. The way lines curve. That makes me approach the world and day with more gentleness, more openness, more willingness to see the magic surrounding us at all times. Less judgment. It's all just stuff. We're all just stuff. It's all okay.
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.
If you'd like to participate in something like this and commit to 100 gestures of your own by February (it can be much simpler than what I'm attempting), let me know. Seriously.
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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: