I completed my fourth 12 hour art project this week. 7am-7pm on August 24th.
What started out as just a crazy idea, that probably hit me when I was supposed to be sleeping, has turned into an every-other-month habit that I am addicted to. Let’s be honest, if I had the time, I’d be doing this every day. But you would probably get tired of me posting that often. A nice compromise might be to start doing it every month. We’ll see.
Here’s a quick introduction to what this even is, in case you’re new to my process. The 12 hour art project is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: I make art for 12 hours straight. The purpose of doing this is to have some extended focus time to spend on techniques or mediums I’m not as familiar or comfortable with. The worst way to spend this time would be to do what I’m used to doing over and over for twelve hours. Even if I only made things I hated (which has never happened, though I’m always nervous before I start that it will) the time could not be wasted. As I’m trekking through my twelve hours, I post hourly updates on instagram and Facebook as little benchmarks for my ‘progress’. This social aspect of it is really important because I want people to be encouraged in their own art making and it helps me record what I’m doing. Even if something this dramatic isn’t possible for some people, the inspiration to play without worrying about the result is crucial to growing as an artist. That’s why I share. My art is not only for my enjoyment–art would feel dead to me if I painted only for myself. So I make lots of art and then share it with people. You can check out my last 12 hour art project here and see how my style has changed, even just from two months ago.
So here’s the recap. Photos of what I did along with some notes about how it went. Read the captions under the photos to get a little more detail about what’s happening in the picture.
The twelve hours just fly by so fast, I feel like I could just keep going. But I know that’s also not good for me. This time, when I was done at 7pm, a friend stopped by to pick me up so we could go for a nice long walk together. Which did three great things: got me out of the studio, got me talking to another human being, and got me moving around.
I didn’t take notes throughout like I normally do. I completely forgot until right at the end. My table was way more of a disaster than it’s been in the past and I was so on a roll the whole time, I didn’t slow down to reflect or do a lot of thinking while I was painting. Which is a good indication that my creativity muscle is getting stronger and I’m able to stay inspired more easily for longer periods of time. To be honest, I don’t know if that’s terribly practical in the general scheme of things. Like I doubt there’s an award for the person who could make art continually the longest. But more endurance for inspiration does make life and making art more fun.
I get lots of comments about how my stamina is enviable or amazing, but you should know that there’s nothing super special about me. I will say it takes a certain amount of confidence to tackle a 12 hour project and share as you go. I’m also not too bad at focusing on something for an extensive period of time. So there you go: confidence and focus are the two simple ingredients. And those can be trained or developed in anyone.
As for the constant flow of ideas and inspiration, that’s something anyone could develop good habits in as well. Read about the way I manage my creativity and ideas in general, which make it possible for me to do a 12 hour project without running out of ideas, here. It’s not much more than common sense but hopefully it’s helpful. I had to glean the concepts from other artists to figure this out for myself so glean away!
Looking back over what I made, I was able to do a lot of work that is out of the norm for me.
Here is a list of the new techniques or mediums I explored during this project:
- watercolor painting on Yupo paper (it’s actually plastic, not paper, so the water doesn’t absorb into the paper. It evaporates to dry.)
- art journaling in an old book
- geometric line techniques in my drawings
- brush lettering some larger pieces
- abstract paintings with watercolor and water-soluble wax pastels. The pastels are new as are the abstract paintings.
- magazine clipping cards
- semi-realistic portrait drawing with ink. I’ve only ever done graphite pencil realistic portraits and got tired of them.
So there it is. Twelve hours of art and making a mess. I’ve been so encouraged by this process and would love to have a few other artists do it with me sometime! I’ll try to plan the day ahead of time and make an announcement so people who want to join me can plan their week around it.
Thanks for sticking with me through this monster of a post! Subscribe if you want to keep reading little snippets of my process and inspiration and I’d love to hear your questions or comments too!