In January 2009 I sat down to do some drawing as my daughter played, and as I worked I thought wouldn’t it be great to try to do a drawing a day.
By the time I had done ten drawings they had started to become more complex, and incorporated collage into the drawing, and in most cases had actually come to be paintings rather than drawings.
I decided to keep the works within a general format of 12×12 inches, and though a few are smaller than 12×12 inches none are larger than this size. I guess I chose 12×12 inches for the simple reason that I like the dimension of one square foot, and also I had discovered beautiful boxes to store them in.
The next step was to set myself a goal beyond merely doing a painting a day, and I decided to do 100. I thought this would be a good number, and it offered a bit of a challenge. Early on, I realized that the series really was about setting myself a work goal, and trying to test myself. I wanted something that I really would have to work at and that would take a combination of time, energy, and mental stamina.
The surprising thing was that it was relatively easy to make 100 12×12 inch paintings, and I had enjoyed doing the work so much I wanted to continue. So I set myself a challenge of doing 1000 12×12 inch mixed media paintings. I decided it would be all about doing the work. I wouldn’t worry if one didn’t work out. I wouldn’t worry if I repeated myself. I wouldn’t worry if they were ugly. I would just work.
I also decided I would try to limit the marks I would use, and in many there are a simple cross hatch patterns that I came to think of as My mark. At the time I also thought of them as my crutch, and they helped carry me through to the end.
I also started creating what I came to consider marks of contrivance, where I would try to create a spill of ink or paint with the intention of it having the appearance of an accidental mark. I also used an ink ring mark created by dipping a cup into ink and placing it casually on the paper, and once again I would do this with the intention of creating the illusion of an accident.
As the series progressed the materials I used changed. I started out using fine art papers, but as I combined more elements of collage I started using different papers. I took apart books and glued pages of them onto large sheets that I would then cut into 12×12 inch sheets. My young daughter also became part of the process. I would give her pastels, pens, ink, and paint and ask her to work on large sheets of paper. I would then cut these into 12×12 inch sheets and would work on them myself leaving elements of my daughter’s work visible in combination with my own.
Where doing 100 paintings was relatively easy, doing 200 was much harder. The middle of the project was actually the hardest part, and by the time I had completed 500 I was getting a bit loopy, and I was wondering if I might have gone a bit overboard in setting a goal of 1000 paintings.
This week I completed the series, and afterwards I felt the inevitable sensation of loss. What’s next is on my mind, and though I have started a new painting on canvas I can’t help feeling the urge to start another large series. What it will be is not yet clear, and that is the fun part.