I like to think of art projects like little fires. First you gather your wood (the materials), you built it (get everything set-up) and then you light it. When inspiration strikes, you get burning.
I love the process of gathering the materials from the store (art, craft, book, hardware, etc) and have them all ready, meaning out and in view, so we can work when the mood strikes. Until I have a dedicated studio space this means transforming our dining table over the weekend, but here’s proof that it’s worth it: four projects done over the past four roughly four weeks that just sort of happened because the fire was ready to be lit.
I got this idea from Austin Kleon. I never knew how to fold and tear a piece of paper like this until now, and it’s a little detail that makes it super easy to transform any piece of paper into a mini-zine. No idea where the story came from either.
Mixing by hand
Me: “Sam you want to do some painting?” Sam: “Yes daddy!” Slide out some large sheets of card stock. Squeeze tubes of different color paints on. Watch him mix. Repeat!
The paper laptop
Vivian created this paper model of a laptop complete with fold out keyboard, sitckers on the case, kick stand, and laptop sleeve with handles. It’s just like what her parents use, and she even drew a browser on the screen showing “Google: Unicorns” on it with the search result.
No one helped her, no one even knew she was working on it. We were just going about doing chores while she was busy doing something at the dining-table-turned-studio.
The box critters
Kav made these with the kids, starting with some cutouts from a magazine and expanding into homemade hands and eyes and tails of all sorts. Reusing materials from around the house is a bonus, as it the fact that this art gets named and played with after. This genre of art project (box critter-making?) is an underrated wellspring that we’ll be sure to tap into more often.
“The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)
Some thoughts about what being the best means.
The 2019 reading re-cap from Tim Ferriss: I am a subscriber and still missed a lot of these. I enjoyed the discussion of his process (of course) at the outset.
I need to try Copic markers: I’ve seen these on the shelf and have never tried them. This illustraion looks amazing though, and made me put them on my wish list.
Some modern inspiration from a well-executed idea about un-modern tech: Primitive technology is a YouTube + WordPress site about primitive technology. From the About page:
Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The
challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking
He has millions of views on YouTube and, ironically, a really low-tech simple site.
At some point in the next decade, the Chinese government, with the support of Russia and other authoritarian regimes, will move forward with plans to establish a separate root system for their share of the internet. When the split happens, we will mark it as the end of the global internet era. When the history of that event is written, we will identify a series of seminal events in 2019 that were harbingers of what was to come.
New tool for calendar scheduling: Calendly is great for not only scheduling meetings, but if you run a business that requires your customers to make appointments, you can embed it on your site, take payments for meetings via PayPal and automatically create online meeting links.
Last Saturday Kav and the kids and I were faced with a stormy Saturday with no plans and very little daylight to work with. Luckily I have been amassing a small bunkers-worth of art supplies, including some proper watercolor supplies. You don’t have to ask me twice, queue art project time!
Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, but I think it often gets a bad rap as something that’s overly messy or difficult to do. I’m definitely no expert, but it’s always fun to play with water with kiddos and with the right supplies, it’s really easy to create cool art with.
Here are some of the things that made this session good:
I have actual watercolor paper. Although our paint was whatever, having paper that can actually take a little water is key.
We had multiple pieces going at the same time. Watercolor involves a lot of back-and-forth between being wet and letting things dry. Letting things dry can be, well, boring, so that’s when you work on piece number 2 (or 3 or 4).
We worked on the pieces gradually after the Saturday as well. I have waterproof pens and we added to the paintings on an ongoing basis over the week. There’s something about having pieces visible and in progress that feels good.
We tried different techniques. I showed them washes, we tipped the pages and watched the color run in different directions and used that as a tool for flower stems. There was plenty of exploration.
Afterwards I started to see how this kind of project could translate well into a workshop setting. Kav’s been prompting me to do something like that at the kids school, so we’ll see. We’re starting out the new year with a new medium. Here are a few of the finished pieces: