Working on the One Thousand Thousand project, as well as 52 Weeks for that matter, has really been one of the best things I could have done as an artist. The work itself isn't what I'm referring to in this. [Although that's incredibly important too.] But the process itself has been hugely beneficial in many ways.
When we were doing the 52 Weeks project we worked within certain parameters we had set for ourselves. One box each week. Starting on Sunday and ending on the following Sunday. Make sure it was done by the deadline. Pencils down. We also had to use the same little wooden shadow boxes as our starting point for each piece. [Between Christopher and myself we had 104 total boxes that were identical when we began the project.] I remember the first couple of weeks really just limiting myself to the pre-defined confines of the original boxes. It never really occurred to me that I'd end up working outside of the box. [I swear to you that there was no intention of a pun here at all. I promise.]
Anyway, so the same thing goes for the One Thousand Thousand project. After a while you'll just get bored to death. You'll have used most every color combination and subject matter and style and medium that you can think of. Techniques will be exhausted. It'll frustrate you to no end. You'll get bugged by the work taking on some familiar tones and you'll feel like you're just resting on your creative laurels by cranking out things that feel the same as work you've done in the past.
But the thing is with this sort of project is that you just cannot quit. You cannot throw in the towel. You set a goal and you have to follow through with it. Make some paintings. And then more. This is any artists shared dilemma. Creative blocks. Creative boxes.
So the wonderful safety net that is always present in these projects is that of collaboration. When I get stuck and start hating my own work I see the pieces that Christopher is working on and I get inspired. We both use entirely different techniques and mediums and all of the rest and when we get stumped at times we both look to one another for ideas to use in our own work. It's really cool that way.
Looking to the work of other artists, and then being fortunate enough to discuss it with them directly and ask questions and gain insight in some way, has been critical for me. And I'm not limiting this to just working with Christopher either. It holds true for many of the artists I've known and worked with in person as well as the work I study in books and galleries and museums and that sort of thing. Art furthers art. It keeps the process moving forward.
The point I wanted to really make is this:
If you are an artist then you really don't have the option of just quitting. Just because you're stuck or just because you feel like you've taken a certain style or medium or approach as far as you can take it the show must go on. That said, it's helpful to look outside of your own work for ideas and inspiration. Adopt some new technique and stick with it for a while until you get something out of it. Squeeze it all dry.
Collaborate with other artists. Musicians have jam sessions. They just play around together figuring out some direction and try new things and some fail and some are not as exciting but in the long run something will eventually come from it all. And frequently the results will be solid, and occasionally, they'll be monumental. Artists could benefit from the same thing but all too often just end up plugging away in private. For good or for bad.
And, finally, if you're into the idea of making a few hundred or even a thousand paintings of your own to help this project reach a million then you're encouraged to let me know.