Not that long ago, I discovered the underlying truth behind the idiom “necessity is the mother of invention”. Out of necessity I ended up creating a unique project called Great Black Order as a way to “regain my balance” during a sudden downtime. It's no secret that I'm no whiz at coding, so as this was a web project, I had to involve a facilitator. Here’s how it all came about : )
It was within the past year that I found myself suddenly “on pause”. I had been working at a furious pace finishing the paintings for my upcoming art book release AWOL: 26 Absent School Girls. This sudden halt to my project made me feel a little lost. I was ready to move on to the next step but the delay was outside of my control. With no idea how long the process of book publication would take, I floundered like a babe in the woods.
I thought to myself, "Why waste all this momentum?". Since I was stuck at an impasse, with such a surplus of time and energy, why not funnel it into something productive? I decided that I needed to work on another project in order to shift my view back to working on something (anything!) that would take my focus off the book. I’m sure it was a great relief to the industry professionals I was working with as my emails had begun to sound like: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet ? Are we there yet ?” I pestered, oh how I pestered. The good news is that I quickly grew tired of my own whining!
The project I needed to do had to be comparatively bite-sized. I wasn’t ready to launch into another huge painting adventure, especially with the knowledge that I may need to turn my attention back to the book at a moments notice. I like my big projects like I like my coffee in the morning, one at a time and really intense.
You know what I did ? I made a project sandwich. Simply insert a smaller project into the gap of time allowed by a break in a big project. It’s a great way to manage time and energy effectively instead of checking my inbox and sighing every ten minutes. The delay to the book proved to be a crisi-tunity, as Homer Simpson would say. A little crisis that can be turned into a big opportunity. It's the perfect time to try a few experimental ideas out. These ideas cross my mind all the time. However, they usually bubble up when I’m in the middle of a big project, frequently getting filed in the vault marked: Do It Later Maybe Never.
For my project sandwich I decided to revisit my series Like a Great Black Fire and put a new twist on the work. That twist was on the presentation. I called this new project Great Black Order. The original work was a series made up of 10 paintings that spanned 26 ft in total length. There was a continuous dark landscape that flowed across the canvases so you could either read them as one long painting or 10 individuals. As pieces from the series had sold, I realized that they could never be exhibited as a whole again (see picture below for original exhibition). Great Black Order ensured that they could still be viewed as a whole. I stitched the images carefully together in photoshop and created a website where you can scroll from side to side through one long image. This project was designed with the technical web facilitation by Ben Macdonell.
Without Ben's help on this project, I would have been truly lost but, truth be told, without my pestering we may not have finished it. We all have our unique strengths. If you too have the "power of pester", remember to use it for good and not evil.
In closing, you too can make a project sandwich. Start by sifting through the vault of ideas that you have filed under Do It Later Maybe Never. Blow off the cobwebs and see if any of those ideas still interest you. Guesstimate how long a couple of these projects would take. If necessary, consult a person or the internet to verify that your guesstimate is "in the ballpark". At some point in the year, if you find yourself between commissions, projects, or freelance jobs - check to see if you have a project that would fill the gap.
Be inspired by the graceful octopus, the serene god of multitaskers. Go forth and make project sandwiches!