On December 31, 2014 Erin Bunting completed her daily yearlong One Good Thing project...
What are the biggest lessons/skills you learned from doing your project? Some days my "One Good Thing" 365 days project really asked me to dig deep on how best to illustrate each day's "good thing." I tried to always let the "good thing" lead, and tried to never concoct a "good thing" just so I could use a really great image that I already had. I made myself find a way to visually and creatively interpret the subject without always being literal. For example, one of my "good things" was about "a grown-up" Sushi lunch date with my son, Sam. Instead of photographing us or our food, I used Play Doh to create a whole sushi plate with caviar, wasabi and everything, and photographed that. My intention was to communicate not just the food, but also childhood that has been supplanted by adulthood, and my feelings about a boy who has grown into a fine young man – way too fast.
Doing this project I was surprised and tickled over and over again by how ingenious the imagination is when it has a reason to play, and the space to do it in. I also learned how much I really enjoy photographing miniature objects and toys in ways that make them seem alive and animated. Lego mini figures, Barbie dolls, action figures, finger puppets, bathtub toys, party favors ... I love it all had have accrued quite a collection of great stuff!
As in previous projects, the dailiness and discipline required for creating something every day for a year was rigorous and exciting, relentless and spontaneous, fresh and challenging. This project kept me creatively stimulated and moving, in a constant search for what else I could do, try, learn or practice.
In what ways did the project change your life? Obviously, as the name indicates, this project had a very positive focus overall. I've done projects in the past that have gotten a little dark, because my artistic animal was dwelling in the darker places at the time. But this time around, I was craving something on the brighter side. I didn't ignore the dark. I still delved into darker and more serious subject matter, but I tried to do so with an eye toward the light. As I stated in my mission at the project's outset, some days it doesn't seem like there is anything good. Sometimes you have to reach way down into the suckiness and pull out some suck-covered something. And you might not even know it's anything good at first because it's so covered in suck. So you have to kind of rinse it off, scrape it down, "un-suck it," and find the good. That was a life-changing discipline to practice and to cultivate. It didn't preclude me from going to the dark places, it just didn't let me get stuck there.
It was a really great way to celebrate the myriad little daily blessings that I might otherwise take for granted – like the first cup of coffee in the morning, or riding a bicycle – as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences like a hot air balloon ride or an extraordinary person. And it got me out of the house and into the world, constantly looking and searching for the good.
Now what? "One Good Thing" was my fourth consecutive 365 days project. I won't be doing one in 2015 for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't have any good project ideas that I felt compelled to pursue. I know that if I just picked something to pick something and forced it into a project, I'd quickly come to regret it. Projects like this can get a little tyrannical, and if you don't love it, you very likely won't complete it. Two, I'm also an actor and will be performing at the Cleveland Play House from January through March, so I need the time to focus on preparing for that work. It feels right. I needed a change of pace. I still feel a little empty pang in the morning when I realize I won't be sitting down to write my blog post. But I haven't sworn off 365 days projects for good. I'll be back. When the idea and the time are right, I'll definitely get back in the ring. And a year off will give me time to work on personal art projects that are less "daily."
See all of Erin's good things HERE.