How unusual is it for an artist to work on their craft consecutively for 1,000 days? Many artists might say it’s not that unusual at all. But how about doing it seven days a week without fail, in sickness and in health, for two and three-quarter years straight – and verifying it by sharing the new work daily online?
That’s what Roberts Creek artist Tzaddi Gordon accomplished as of Jan. 3, having launched the project in early April 2017. A selection of 20 works created in that time, in frames ranging from 9-by-9 to 12-by-12 inches, are on display at the Gumboot Café until the end of January in a show called Ripples: Art and reflections from more than 1000 days of making and sharing.
The idea of an art marathon wasn’t inspired by the dedication of a Georgia O’Keefe or Henri Matisse, but by Jerry Seinfeld. “The whole premise of this is ‘don’t break the chain,’” Gordon, 46, told Coast Reporter. “Seinfeld was advising that to young comedians who wanted to get better. ‘Write every day, no matter what, and make an ‘x’ on the calendar.’ He said the momentum of that makes you not want to break your chain [of x’s].”
Gordon [full disclosure: my stepdaughter], an Emily Carr University graduate, is a designer and illustrator, but she didn’t count her professional work as part of her daily practice, for which she set no minimum time limit. “My idea is at least a few minutes, but usually a few minutes is going to turn into more. That few minutes gets you past the hurdle of starting,” she said. “The whole notion of creative resistance, I think, is huge. This has been really helpful for me in getting past that. It’s very easy to make excuses about being too busy or too tired or ‘it’s not going to be good enough,’ or whatever it is that’s coming up for you. But because I have to just start and I know I have to share something about it, then I have that accountability and that reason to do it anyway.”
The daily sharing on Instagram also generated an unanticipated form of encouragement from her followers. “When I first started, I felt it was a selfish thing I was just doing for me. But I’ve heard from so many people who’ve said that it made them start making, or it made them look at their creativity differently, and those sorts of things. I don’t mean to sound lofty about it, but I knew it was helping other people.”
The pieces in Gordon’s current show are either prints of digital art, created on iPad and smartphone using apps like Apple’s Procreate and Google Snapseed, or what she calls “blackout poetry collage.” In that form, she used handmade drawings and digitally altered and layered photos combined with repurposed snippets or redacted sections of pages from a vintage book she picked up at a second-hand store. “It’s a missionary book, actually. I liked the feel of the paper. And I was very happy to transform the meaning of the text.”