2016 has been a strange year, hasn’t it? The world went a little nuts and the news brought me to tears more than a few times. Professionally I also hit some bumps with cancelled workshops and low art sales. It would be easy enough to write the year off completely.
But it wasn’t all bad, and I think it’s important to spend some time looking back at the good things that happened. In my personal life I know there are plenty of happy memories to revisit but I was feeling down about my professional progress, until I made this list. Looking at all the projects I’ve worked on over the year remind me that even thought there’s a lot that I want to do differently next year, I still have plenty to be proud of.
Here are my top creative projects, moments, and adventures from 2016.
I started off the year by finally taking my first etching class at a local print shop, after years of pining over the medium. I felt completely overwhelmed by the complexity of it, and completely in love at the same time. In the fall I took another class on both etching and collograph and I can’t wait to do more. The most exciting thing for me was how much my confidence in my drawing skills increased over the year: in the first class, I traced my image from a photograph but in the second class I drew this iris completely freehand and was really happy with the results. The Drawing Project paid off!
For years I’ve been wanting to speak at this event and I finally got my chance. My 6 minute and 40 second speech was called “Learning to Draw, Learning to Live” and was all about how the Drawing Project was changing my outlook on life and creativity. It was a dream come true!
In a rare ‘just for fun’ project, I made myself a necklace hanger for the bedroom, to brighten the room and keep my jewellery from getting tangled. I still love it!
Courage Gala commission
I was asked to create a piece to express the accomplishments of the Glenrose Foundation’s 5-year old fundraising gala. It was the biggest commission I had ever had and I learned so much. It was a stressful time but I’m proud of the work I did and looking forward to more work like this in the future.
Be careful what you ask for around me – I tend to take these requests literally and make them happen. When my mom wished that someone would make her an encouraging banner, I took her up on it and gave her one for Mother’s Day. It was so much fun to make and it makes me happy when I see it in her apartment.
This year I tried to jump on the 100 day project bandwagon and was moderately successful. I wanted to develop a practice of recording what I was seeing and experiencing in the world around me to help sharpen my observation skills and find inspiration. I didn’t finish the project and felt bad about it, but only a little since it wasn’t always the most satisfying practice – I started writing things down just for the sake of writing something and it felt a little forced.
New Creative Adventuring Workshop
I tested out a new workshop at the Edmonton Resilience Festival and it went over really well. The plan was to go exploring and collect inspiration to then make a piece of art. As often happens with my workshops, however, the participants got me thinking about the idea in a whole new way and I realized how important mindfulness and non-judgment is to this type of work. Ideas started percolating to improve this workshop, and to possibly create a corporate workshop around these ideas.
The summer was quite busy as I brought my pop-up creativity workshop to one indoor and three outdoor events. I got paid for two of them, which was a nice bonus, and met tons of lovely people.
I made some new sculptures for the Art Walk that I was really happy with. This eyeball cross-section is one of my favourite pieces right now!
Organizing my studio
I spent a lot of time this year working on making my art space more functional. I also stopped calling it ‘the craft room’ and started calling it ‘my studio’. It’s a small change but I’m working on changing how I feel as an artist and this was a big step. Months later I’m happy to report that the changes I made have stuck and the room is working better than ever.
Finishing the Drawing Project
In August I sent out the last of 48 weekly emails for the Drawing Project. Over the twelve months I filled two sketchbooks and learned SO MUCH about drawing and making art. You can read recaps of different stages of the process here, here and here.
Deck Out a Lamppost Installation
This was my second time making a lamppost installation for Edmonton’s Kaleido Festival, and my first time entering the competition. I teamed up with my friend Kristi who had done a few installations in the past and we had such a fun time. We even won the grand prize! I left part of my heart behind when I decided not to pursue a career in theatre set design and large-scale installations like this feel like a bit of a homecoming.
Created a logo
After much deliberation, I finally created a logo for my art business and unveiled it at our local Etsy Made in Canada Market. I also worked on improving my display for that show and got a lot of good feedback on the results. Watch for the new logo on my new website coming soon!
I’ve been saying for years that I want to be a full-time artist, but this fall I realized that deep down I had never really believed it was possible and therefore hadn’t been putting in the work needed to get there. On my birthday I announced that I want to quit my day job in January of 2018, just over twelve months away now. It feels bonkers but setting a deadline is the only way for me to push myself to make it happen. For the first time since I set out on this journey, I have clarity about what is most important to me and what I need to do. It feels really good!
Zoominescence Light Installation
This was an amazing opportunity and I’m so happy with how it turned out. The Edmonton Valley Zoo opened up their annual Festival of Lights to local artists for the first time and I worked with Matt’s non-profit, the Dying Light Collective, to create a giant anatomical heart and circulatory system with red light flowing in and out of it. You can read a full recap of the project next week. Until then, those of you who live in Edmonton have six days left to see it in person.