In January 2021 I decided to give myself a creative challenge, as a way to get myself “unstuck.” I found myself so serious about trying to write and paint, that I was paralyzed in some sort of abstract-fear of not succeeding at, or even finishing, anything. I found myself pulled in so many directions, it was impossible to focus on, or accomplish, even one thing.
After doing a session with Jessica Outram of Creativity Coaching, I came to understand that all of these projects are part of my “life work”… separate from money, or publishing, or selling, or even deadlines. I had put pressure on myself with it being about business, or appealing to others. That session transformed my focus from “chaos” and stress/pressure to “playfulness” and fun/experimentation.
I decided to name 2021 my year of creativity. I started an Instagram account @2021_The_Creative_Year to document the journey. The project started with monthly challenges, so in January I did photo-poetry every day; in February I did a sketch every day; in March I did a mini-painting every day; in April the project started to shift because I decided to work on an embroidered jean-jacket that took too much time.
I was disappointed I was unable to finish the jacket by the end of the month; but I do continue to work on it when I can. In May I shifted the “creativity” to the kitchen and my health (I’ve lost 25 pounds since then)… and in the summer I started traveling up North to the French River area, that inspired a new art project. The daily challenges fell through the cracks at that point BUT their purpose, to get me out of my creative rut, had been accomplished. My creativity was ON FIRE.
The biggest lesson I learned from the past year is the value of “play.” I struggle with the idea of “waste”… my time and materials. So I had to get over that limitation, to truly dive into making mistakes and having no judgement about making something really terrible. I mixed some really yucky colours, I drew some really uninspiring sketches, I painted some really bad experiments, and wrote some very boring poems. BUT those little “wastes” fade in comparison of the whole project… because they filled the spaces that kept the momentum going for all the incredible things I have been able to create this year. In Total 2021 included:
- 7 journals
- 3 songs (no lyrics, just guitar chords)
- 51 poems
- 28 sketches
- 30 mini-paintings
- 5-day paint challenge with artist Mary Gilkerson
- 11 oil sketches
- “Winter on Lake Ontario” a new collection of 5 acrylic paintings
- “Call me Home” collection of 7 new oil paintings (with more in progress)
- Completed 2 other oil paintings (one which I started years ago)
- I read “Learning by Heart” by Corita Kent and Jan Steward
- Was as a guest artist on the Hummingbird Podcast.
- In September I participated in the 2021 Northumberland Studio Tour with Steve Levinson
- In November I co-hosted a pop-up art and book sale/show with Jessica Outram.
- I made 6 road trips up north, and continue to paint from the photographs I collected between June and November this year.
I don’t have enough space to add images of all the projects I have done over the past year; but if you’re interested then check out @Burke_Untitled on Instagram or the photos on my Facebook Page: Jennifer Anne Burke and of course the main website!
2022 is going to look very different, as I will be starting a new job that will allow less time to dive in deeply to any big projects; but I feel this year has given me all the skills I need to continue my creative journey, as life work. Wishing you all a new year full of creativity!