365 Days: In the Mourning

Regina Wahl in Osnabrueck, Germany is creating daily as a way to think about grief and loss in her project 365 Days: In the Mourning...

Why did you decide to do this project? It was the final day of my second Creative Sprint in October 2017. This time, I stayed relaxed and optimistic throughout the whole challenge. And this gave me the courage to do a yearlong project inspired by Noah Scalin's book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal.

People who know me weren't surprised when they heard about the theme I chose for my project. Last year I saw a printed shirt with this sentence on it: I am a mourning person. This is so right! I am a mourning person (to be honest I think everyone is). I think I always was. I cannot count the things, places, dreams and of course people that I lost in my life so far. And since I was a young girl I am interested in death and grief and their effects on people and relationships and systems. I know, this sometimes seems like a very scientific view...this is a part of my coping strategy I think: Trying to understand the incomprehensible, trying to stay in control,...all these things.

However, I always tried to not stay detached but to get closer to my own grief and to the grief of others. Two years ago I became a qualified grief counselor. I am a hospice volunteer. I made a lot of good and appreciative friends in the field of grief counseling and hospice care. It is a very supporting and caring community (like the Creative Sprinters!). I am very grateful to get to know a lot of wonderful people coping with loss. And if there is one thing I learned in recent years: Mourning and grieving and coping with loss is an art itself and we are all raw beginners...

This is my way to learn something about life. This is my way to live one year with eyes and arms and heart wide open.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life?  I learned a lot of things during the last months. The most important thing I learned is: There is always an idea! I feel very confident for the last couple of months that good ideas are always on hand. So far I never panicked that I can´t find anything to do.

At the beginning of this journey, I thought I´ll stick to the daily inspirations in the book for a while, see where it leads me from there and maybe work on my own prompts. But after a few weeks I learned to enjoy the daily prompts from Noah's book as what they are: on the one hand I don´t have to think about a new technique or material to work with every day. On the other hand, I am forced to leave my comfort zone and try new things – which I probably wouldn't do that often if I would have to think about something on my own (I would probably paint with water colour or pencils every day ;-)

That said, I really try to not be super rational about the prompts and projects and to avoid planning the prompts in advance (which is really hard, I love making lists and staying in control): Head AND heart AND hands and all that. But sometimes I concede myself a day of rationalizing and working with techniques and materials I am comfortable with – it´s all about balance, right?

I also learned to not have to be 100% satisfied with the outcome to post a picture of my art. I like that there is always the next day to make something better or more pointed or wittier… And that my English in the caption of a picture doesn´t have to be perfect to be understood.

During the last months I also became more courageous: Not only in terms of techniques, but also about the themes of my daily projects: Grief and death is not nice and proper and I feel it is quite liberating to share my rage and the ugly or tabooed things, too.

Well, and sometimes it is hard: The people close to me (my family and close friends) read and look at the things I do every day. And my grief is often their grief (I lost my grandparents, my parents lost their mums and dads…), which sometimes makes it very difficult for me to express what I feel: I know when they see my project, it makes them sad, too. But it is also a new way to talk about our grief! One day I draw a picture of my great aunt with soap on the mirror and captured it with “I am thinking of her so often these days!” and when my mum saw the picture, she told me: “I am also thinking a lot about her lately - I didn't know it is the same for you!”

Finally I want to share, that currently I enjoy doing the daily projects just for me. And this took me and everyone else by surprise. When I first started the “365 Days: In the Mourning”-Project my friends and family asked me: “Are you going to collaborate with others?”, “Are you going to involve people?”, “Are you planning an exhibition at the end of it?”,… And I was sure, I would do that, being sometimes very driven and a real limelight hog when it comes to doing the things I like to do and talking about the topics I am interested in. But up to today I have no need to show my art on a grand scale or to go public…And I think part of it is, that I stopped demanding such high standards of myself, which is great progress for me and took all pressure off. However, let´s see where this leads to and what other surprises are around the corner!

See all of Regina's project on Instagram at @365.days.in.the.mourning and on her site HERE.

Melody Thinks She Can Pull This Off

Melody Reed in Columbus, Ohio, created for over a year inspired by 365: A Daily Creativity Journal... 

Why did you decide to do this project? In October 2016, I attempted the Creative Sprint challenge. It started more out of boredom than anything. A friend posted she was going to participate, and on a whim, I joined up. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I also tend to be fairly optimistic, so I figured I could keep up.

That led me to purchasing the book, 365 A Daily Creativity Journal and I decided I could totally keep up with it. I really liked taking the few minutes each day and making something.

Reading the introduction in the book led me to think of a way to organize my masterpieces. What can I stick with? I get bored fairly easily. (Oh look, a squirrel!) That's part of this challenge for me. Commit, stick with it. Commit, stick with it. "Lather, rinse, repeat and lather, rinse, repeat and lather, rinse, repeat. As needed." My gut instinct was to give myself a different subject or medium each week or month. That way I explore and try different ways of messing with it without feeling like I'm tied to it. 

I work in arts administration and I surround myself with creative people day in and day out. I'm energized by them. I do their admin, because I don't have their passion and, quite frankly, they suck at the mundane. In return, I key to feed off their excitement about their art. But in this small way, I feel like I was for once not just feeding off, but adding to the creativity all around me.

I also wanted to set a good example for my kids. They all like to color and draw and build with blocks. Every now and again, they'll get down on themselves. Especially at school, they'll see what someone else does and think theirs isn't good enough. I want to show them that it doesn't matter what you make or how well you do it, but that you made it, and it was yours. This project helped me do that.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? ​I think I knew going in that there would be days it just wouldn't happen. And I was right. I forgave myself when I missed or skipped a day here and there. Some days, I just couldn't find a way to tie in the prompt to my theme. Other days I just couldn't find the time to take that few minutes. Still others, I couldn't spare the brain power. But I decided I would keep track of all of them and swing back around later so that I still made 365 prompts.

I took October off completely. I started a new job and something had to give. The couple prompts I churned out weren't much to speak of. I was feeling kind of drained. When I came back in November, I was definitely recharged and I started enjoying it again.

​More than anything, making the concerted effort to spend a few minutes each day doing something just for me has been therapeutic. I like sharing the prompts and getting comments from my friends (whom I think I've surprised by my actually sticking to it).

To finish out the project, I've decided to return to my favorite medium. Writing haiku has always been a joke with my 4 closest friends, so it makes sense I'd enjoy it the most, but it's also where I feel a comfort. I like that there are strict rules to follow and you have to work to use just the right words. Hopefully I'll carry that need to use the right words into other aspects of my life too.

See all of Melody's 365 project HERE.

Artist Interview: Freehand Profit

I recently had the pleasure of talking with my friend Gary Lockwood AKA Freehand Profit about our mutual interests as working artists and I recorded the conversation to share with you!

This LA-based artist is internationally known for his work transforming highly sought after sneakers into one-of-a-kind masks. He discovered this technique through his yearlong practice making masks, which was inspired by my own Skull-A-Day project!

In this hour long conversation we discuss: 

  • The artist's education
  • Working with galleries
  • Valuing your work
  • Making a living
  • Priorities and balance
  • Your unique vision
  • Art collectors
  • Goals
  • Success & fame
  • and more!

And here are some links to some things we mentioned:

I hope you enjoy our discussion as much as we did!

p.s. This project happened because of my Patreon supporters! If you like it, please consider becoming one of my supporters there as well

Want to learn more about my creative practices?

In an effort to give folks more access to my studio practice I've launched a Patreon page

This is a place where people who like what I do (like you!) can help me do more of it by committing to a small amount of support every month and in exchange get a lot more access to my art and knowledge! Want to gain more knowledge about my creative practice and get in depth look into my studio, this is for you! Check out the intro video below and read the whole story on my page HERE and hopefully I can connect more with you this year...