This Saturday was the first day of Fall. And for a lot of us, it’s our favorite season. This got me thinking about how the light changes. How the sun hits the trees from a different angle and how the shadows all change from how they were months ago. And it got me thinking about big projects. I work in series very often. And a few years ago I came up with a metaphor that works for ANY big project. Especially art stuff. Check it out.
You can look at the nature of big projects like the seasons of the year.
Spring – Ah Spring. The fresh air and smell of grass and flowers blooming, so vibrant and so alive. Spring is like the place where your ideas are born. And sometimes they run fast like a raging river. They bloom almost by instinct. You have all these fresh ideas and you just do your best to write ’em down before you have MORE new ideas. When you are starting a project this is certainly the brainstorming and also the planning part. You are excited, alive, and ready to make the magic.
Summer – Summer, the days get longer, you do cool stuff like play in the yard with the hose. Or in your studio. You are doing the WORK of your project. It’s fun and memorable but it can also be challenging. Just like Summer can be too hot, you may find yourself pushing hard to the end of each day. You planned 20 paintings in this series and now the rubber has met the road and you’re on painting number five. But hey, enjoy it. The parts that you love in the end are the work. I mean, this is what we signed up for, right?
Fall – This is it…all the work is done. All the preparations for the show are finished. No more work can actually be done. All the seeds were planted, the plants were tended and now it’s time to harvest. You are going to present your series in a gallery or your giant sculpture to the world for public consumption. You will gather and garner all the support and nourishment you can from them. THIS IS THE HARVEST. Enjoy it. You earned every bit of it.
Winter – The harvest is over. The food is stored. The crowds all go back to their homes and now you are left alone to rest and hibernate. You need time to fully see the scope of what you did. You need time to rest. To sleep. To get solid. Often times, you need to repair the things you have been neglecting while you were out working. So take the time to repair. Soon enough you will see signs of spring again.
And the whole thing repeats. Sometimes our society heavily values Spring, overvalues Summer, and is obsessed with Fall and pays very little attention to WINTER. If you look at folks working big career jobs in the United States, their time off is rarely valued. As artists we get told that we are lazy if someone should see us resting and refilling our brains with ideas. Sometimes that person telling us to get to work is ourselves. You must take time to refill the batteries. So don’t discount Winter.
On that same note, try and find a balance between all the seasons. You can certainly work way too much in the Summer. It happens. That is kind of why the days get longer. You can work on your stuff and turn it in half-assed just because you need the Harvest so much. So I see a lot of artists rushing things just to be in shows…..maybe that isn’t the best way to go. Although I have done it too. And Spring can be deceptive as you have all these amazing ideas springing forth you forget that eventually, you gotta get to work. Spring slips into Summer somewhere. You can’t stay there forever and NOT do the thing you came to do.
As an artist do your best to check in with the seasons and see where you are in your project. That certainly does not mean you have to line it up with the actual seasons. It’s a nice way to keep you and your time in check for a project. This is one thing that has really helped me a lot over the years. Kind of a Zen way to see it. See if that resonates with you. Till next time.
Written by Josh Coffy and edited by Harmony Anderson.