Start as you mean to go on – 2017 diary pieces

‘I might be right, I might be wrong, but I always make a decision.’

That was actually a comment  I heard some years ago from a now retired Judge I spent some days shadowing. But there are days I have to remind myself it’s as applicable to my art as to his job.


As you mean to go on. 2017/1

As we came into 2017 it was time for me to both start seriously working on some non-textile graffiti based mixed media pieces and to start to think ahead to the bodies of work I would need to have ready for two shows. But those were in 2018!

Dilemma! In true lawyer style I argued both sides of the coin with myself.

“Start making work now then you won’t be rushed, you can do two different shows, you can work big. Really big. You can really focus and do your best.”

“No! Don’t start the show stuff now. You’ll get better before then. You don’t want to show things you can improve on. Use the time to learn and develop.

Hmmm. Both convincing arguments in their own way. So, in true family lawyer style, I combined both options into a better whole for the best of both worlds.

Both shows will have an element of me ‘showing my working out’ in them. I want a viewer to get an idea of how I got from inspiration to the end abstracted work. I want them to get a hint of how an artist’s’ processes and output develop over time. I want them to see not just the best work I could do by the delivery date but also a sneak preview of the learning process. Crap experiments and all.  I love to see a genuine view into other people’s working process so why not reveal mine? ( Apart from the fact its flipping scary that is!) I want to allow myself the luxury of both starting and waiting. And the challenge of publicly declaring an unknown destination.

So, in 2017 I will be working on one modular work comprised of twelve inch pieces comprising a diary of 2017. It will be a diary in the sense that each piece will ( if only in an abstract way obvious only to me) reflect something from my life and thoughts each week. Maybe my internal musings, maybe news events that strike me as worth marking.  I am limiting myself to my new mixed media technique for these pieces so that I can use each piece to develop or consolidate my practice. The resulting 52 can ( assuming I make it to the end and assuming I do not absolutely hate, hate, hate the result!)  be shown together in a great big grid ( I love me some grid displays!), or a smaller curated selection, and, if I think it a good idea in a years time I might even do an accompanying book with the story behind each week next to the images and some articles about the studio practices behind them.

I know I will not be making 52 perfect pieces. The idea is to continually work on this body of work. The idea is that the viewer will see (and read about) how I got from where I am now to the final pieces made for the exhibitions. And I will have a great record of this year for myself as motivation to push this series. It’s not quite the weekly art work Brenda Gael Smith is encouraging people to do as I am not saying I will necessarily make one per week, so much as I will make them regularly and there will be one reflecting each week, if you see the cunning , sanity-saving difference!

There are a lot of decisions to make though and I won’t  know if I am right or wrong until at least midway through. ( If indeed there Is a right and wrong in this context.) Should I make them planning the edges to show because they will be mounted on cradled boards or should I anticipate mat boards and frames? Should they be 52 individual ones or should I plan some flow and cohesiveness? Should I reveal my exact methodology or not? Will I show them all at the show or just the best ones? If I make a clanger am I allowed to go back and make another one for that week at a  later date? If I get bored or the series isn’t working, can I do a different idea every quarter? Every month?

I remind myself. I just have to make a decision. And stick to it.

I can always do it again a different way in 2018!

I’ll be showing a lot of these pieces here as the year goes on. But maybe not all, maybe not with all the stories, so there will be plenty left for you to enjoy in the book! I hope you enjoy them. (But if you don’t, tell me – I’ve got plenty of time to learn from your constructive criticism! )

In case you are wondering, the piece above is named after the Charles Haddon Spurgeon Quote:

“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.

The graffiti is a slightly mauled about version of the Hebrew for ‘Start’. Why Hebrew? Because this week I have been planning a trip to Jerusalem. And Hebrew looks good. I never said the stories were going to be profound!

What about you! Do you have anything special you are working on for 2017?

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