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Sunday, January 10, 2010

100 drawings 100 days : the inspiration

An idea emerged to create a drawing a day for 100 days. Well, the 100 days part fluctuated from 30, to 40 to 365 days, and my partner Ross and friend Emily seemed to agree that 100 was the right number.

In Baron Baptiste's book "40 Days to Personal Revolution", he chooses 40 days because of the significance of that number in Western, specifically Christian, culture. He says "...the number 40 holds tremendous spiritual significance in the realm of transformation. Jesus wandered in the desert for forty days in order to experience purification and come to a greater understanding of himself and his mission. Moses and his people traveled through the desert for forty years before arriving at their home in the holy land. Noah preserved the sacredness of life by sailing his ark for forty days and forty nights. According to the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical text, it takes forty days to ingrain any new way of being into our system, and that is what we are aiming to do here: wipe out the old and welcome the new. In forty days, you can shift into a whole new way of living and being." I followed this program to amazing results in 2007.

The number is arbitrary. The idea is that what we do every day for some length of time is what ends up mattering, and forming the life we will be living.

I have also found inspiration in other projects of this nature. I visited the Robert Motherwell exhibit at the Block Museum and learned about his Lyric Suite ink drawings from 1965. Motherwell created over 600 spontaneous automatic drawings to explore his concept of Automatism - the notion that conscious thought gets in the way of pure creativity. His story caught my imagination. And yes, Julie/Julia too.

At different times in my life I have been an avid sketchbook artist. I would take one with me everywhere and found inspiration in the scenes and objects of life. I started to tell myself however, that traveling and vacations were the inspiration for sketching. Pretty soon I believed it and began to neglect sketching in my "everyday" life because it just wasn't as interesting. With this project I am confronting my own thinking. I have learned and believe that paying attention to something results in finding it interesting.

The recent exhibit of James Castle's work at The Art Institute of Chicago resonated with my current way of working - drawing on cardboard and adding collage elements. This exhibit was a retrospective of Castle's life's work and the number of pieces created by this prolific artist was truly inspiring.

So, I asked myself, "when should I start?"

Aside from the obvious wisdom of 'no time like the present' and 'carpe diem' and 'never put off to tomorrow what you can do today' and, well, you was the right day to begin.

I just had a closing reception for an exhibit that represents a new beginning and endless possibilities for what is coming next. So today is that day.

And today Ed Liska died at age 93. Ed is survived by his lovely wife Claire, and his family who I count among my favorite people on the planet. Ed inspired those around him with his enthusiasm for life and he lived it well right up to the end. So, I want to dedicate this project to Ed who showed us all how to do it. To life, to love, to doing more of what you want, and being with the people who make you smile.


Jill said...

Jeff, I have heard a great deal about you from Ann and today we were looking together at this blog, with Claire and Jeanne. I hope that we meet some day. Ed and Claire generously shared their home and family with me while I was growing up alongside Ann. I think this is a wonderful project and that you have dedicated it to a worthy person - a man with endless curiosity and a love of ideas, engaged with the world around him and fascinated by contemporary life, a connoisseur of a good argument, a good piece of wood, and a cork. He was an acute observer of people, who adored his family and was adored by his family and many friends. As they say, his was a "life well lived", and lived long enough for him to see the world catch up with him so that a Democrat was inaugurated as President in the person of an African-American man! He will be deeply missed. I especially will miss the twinkle in his eye as he offered an opinion, began a discussion, or asked an "interesting" question! Thanks for the tribute. Thanks to Ed for all he did to inspire it! - Jill

artist jeff said...

I will look forward to meeting you Jill.

Peter said...

I read once in an explanation of the expression "forty winks" that forty came from counting all of one's fingers and toes twice, and that it indicated a large number because after counting one's fingers and toes twice, things got confusing to illiterate people. For people without number skills, as in biblical times, forty of anything was a very large number and therefore if something lasted a long time, they described it as lasting forty (units). "Forty winks" therefore was a long sleep, not a quick nap as it's generally considered today, a storm that lasted forty days and forty nights was one that lasted a long, long time, and wandering in the desert for forty years was unimaginably long (two or more generations!).

artist jeff said...

Peter, that is so cool to know! Fun facts to know and tell. And it is almost midnight, so 40 winks for me please.