Wow! Seeing all 100 Mini Vacations in this photo quilt brings on a rush of emotions and thoughts!
I’ve been trying to sort through these thoughts about this project, in order to blog something coherent and useful (and brief!) for you. I believe I’m still in sorting-mode but here’s what keeps coming up so far.
- “The WHY Can Change” – In retrospect, I took on this 100 paintings goal to test my resolve to create art. Could I stay the course and make 100 paintings, or would I abandon this pursuit, echoing the concerns of some people close to me and my own Inner Critic. At around Mini #9, I started feeling a shift away from the goal of “finishing” to an excitement and exhilaration to start each new piece. The challenge had shifted from quantity to quality, and to an artistic goal of seeing what detailed images I could effectively recreate. Very early on this neurosis of “proving myself and others wrong” faded, and my purpose was now seeing what new beauty I could create, AND in my own sweet time.
- “No Pleasure, No Point” – On a related note, I was expecting this project to really hurt. Why I thought I had to experience pain to legitimize this experience now seems silly. Because I learned that the real legitimacy came in the joy I was experiencing. And it’s not that this project didn’t have moments of grinding it out to get pieces done for an upcoming show, or to work through a not-so-successful piece. But this grind didn’t hurt – I looked forward to it.
- “Give Me Structure” – So that it wasn’t a total “bliss out” experience with no output, I benefited from some establishing some structure and creating routines. Entering art shows with very clear deadlines helped to keep me focused. Having a Social Media Schedule has also helped. As for daily habits, I discovered that working on several pieces at one time would help me escape the boredom or frustrations that could derail me – I would bounce from piece to piece. And I developed a rest routine where I had weekly scheduled days off, and where possible, took the week off after a big show. Yes, I had to schedule that rest (and fill those days with friends, exercise, light chores) or else I know I’d be sitting at my drawing board 24/7.
- “Finding A Voice” – Two women entered my booth at a recent show, and one started explaining to the other – “She travels the world, and then turns her favourite memories into these miniature ink and watercolour paintings. That’s what she does. I saw her last year.” When I heard this, it struck me that I now had an artistic identity, a voice – something I wasn’t expecting from this project. I wasn’t expecting to fall so deeply in love with ink and watercolour OR painting in miniature. I can’t imagine leaving it yet for something else, and I see so much more I want to explore with it. And while I’ve been blogging about travel since 2009, I wasn’t expecting it to be as powerful a Muse for this work as it has been. Each time I paint a scene from a vacation or stay-cation, I am transported and this has been transformative in how I now see the world.
- “Share To Receive” – Sharing this project publicly started as an accountability tactic, imagining someone out there would call me out if I wasn’t sharing new work (lol – still hasn’t happened). And I was nervous about the feedback or more specifically, the lack of it. As the joyfulness of this project started kicking in, my attitude about sharing these pieces completely changed – I wanted to share, if just to the heavens. It became an outlet for me, the artist alone in her studio, to tell a story, to laugh, to spread colour, to express what travel has given me. I entered shows, I started an Etsy shop, I joined more social media groups. And what people have given back to me – their encouragement, their travel stories, their positive feedback and critiques to make me better – has been so enriching and rewarding. When someone buys a piece, it’s a thrill. When someone looks at a piece and smiles, it’s a thrill. When someone leaves a comment, it’s a thrill.
Coming full circle, I am glad that I painted 100 Mini Vacations pieces, and that I have this body of work I can feel proud of accomplishing. I am far more grateful for learning so many lessons throughout the past 21 months of this project, and for how it has propelled me along such an unexpected path!