If there are consistent threads in my art over my adult life, I’d say they include an obsession with pattern, a love of color, and an affinity for geometric minimalism. So riffing on photos of beautiful architecture was a natural theme for this year’s The 100 Day Project. For those not familiar with T100DP, it’s an Instagram-based effort started by Elle Luna, in which participants pick a theme and create something every day for 100 days.
WARNING: Page contains lots of images!
Last year, I chose a theme that was overly broad, Tiny Drawings, thinking I wanted to challenge myself to improve my drawing skills. But I ended up spending too much time every day trying to figure out what to draw. Midway through, I did try to pick a specific subject for a week at a stretch, but between the lack of focus and my own inner critic beating me up about my drawing skills, by the end I was tired out.
With that lesson in mind, this year I fleshed out a concept—explore the interplay of geometric shapes and light, using photos of city buildings as compositional frames— and set some parameters:
- Color palette must include sky blue, steel gray, brick red
- Each piece is 800px square
- Each piece must include an area where the original image shows through
I collected 100 photos to use as inspiration, and to pull out a shared color palette. Then I got to work!
Structure vs. flexibility
The first several weeks, at the end of the work day, I’d power up Photoshop or Illustrator, and pick a photo that spoke to me that day. About 3 weeks in, I started thinking about sets of variations on the theme: combining color blocks with vector lines; digital montages that incorporated clouds, trees, and similar nature photos; collaging pieces of buildings from different sources; and, toward the very end, creating abstract compositions from shapes silhouetting pieces of architectural photos. When I was away from my computer, or needed to take a break after spending 8+ hours a day doing UX design, I used a drawing/painting app on my tablet. One week, I was at Arrowmont taking a boro workshop, and I used my compositions as a basis to embroider and sew architecture inspired works on fabric!
Over time, the original palette expanded. I learned that I hate brick orange and brick red! I didn’t always let a piece of the original image show through. Some days, the composition came easily. In others, I struggled, waiting to hear my inner voice saying, yes, this is working now! The wonderful thing is, that voice almost always eventually spoke up. When it didn’t, and I felt I was beating my head against the wall after an hour or two, I let the piece be what it was and moved on.
Looking back over the 100 pieces several weeks later, I can honestly say that I really like well more than half, which is wonderful! It’s interesting to compare the ones I most like with ones that my Instagram and Facebook friends like. Sometimes I think, really, you like that one? But they are all my little lovelies, and I learned something from every one of them—besides the brick orange thing.
A special thanks
I owe a huge debt to the incredible photography of folks including Matthieu Venot, Matt Leblanc, Joel Filipe, and Sebastian Weiss.