Artist Feature :: Paintings for Ants
March 27th 2014
Can you think of something you do every single day of the year without fail?
Reflecting on my daily life, it’s hard to pick anything interesting that I have managed to do consistently over a period of 365 days. I haven’t even gotten out of bed every single day. There have been times when I have slept in, smashing the snooze button like it’s whack-a-mole. Other times I have slept on a plane or in a sleeping bag.
Cape Town artist Lorraine Loots took on the immense task of completing a miniature painting every single day of the year. In 2013, she finished her project, 365 Paintings for Ants.
Looking through photographs of her 3cm x 3cm paintings is inspiring. The pretty ant-sized works depict everything from animals, popular culture icons, plants, things around the house, accessories, toys, and any other item you can think of.
Painting the beautiful teensy tiny works takes a huge amount of discipline and dedication. How did she manage to paint every single day?
“I just didn’t give myself the option to not paint. There was a time when I was really sick and I only had like an hour to get out of bed and do the painting,” says Lorraine.
The project came about for a final university assignment at the UCT Graduate School of Business in Cape Town.
Lorraine had decided not to pursue a career as a full time artist but needed to pitch a creative project to receive her diploma. While she chose to walk down a different path, she did not want to lose all her creativity.
“I wanted to spend a little bit of time every day being creative, if creativity wasn’t my job I thought I would loose it all together, so I wanted to do something creative while earning money doing something else.”
That different path was not a nine to five desk job where she could easily pencil in time for painting in her diary. Instead, Lorraine decided to work in the film industry as a production manager, location scout and casting coordinator.
Whenever I decide to sit down and paint something, I usually need to be in some sort of zen mode. After a very long day at work and university, it is hard to come back home and sit down and paint. I just want to kick back and watch the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. Perhaps Lorraine and I have that in common….
Somehow Lorraine managed to run around all day and still sit down and get in that head-space.
“There was time when I would do two-week productions with a group from the UK. It was really rough and I would have to get up in the morning at like 6am and coordinate a team of stylists, models and photographers and get them to the location. It was pretty wild… And then still get home at night and do the painting.”
How did she find painting on such a small scale? Lorraine bought the smallest paintbrush she could find and found she really enjoyed the detail of working in miniature. Instead of working on artworks for weeks and weeks, she was able to quickly jot one up.
“I have like a million unfinished paintings in my house. The idea of being able to finish something and put it away was really intriguing to me.”
Lorraine loved finishing a miniature painting every day, she decided do it all over again, this time making all the paintings Cape Town themed. 365 Postcards for Ants, celebrates Cape Town as the World Design Capital 2014. Her love for her hometown shines through the various landscape shots. She finds it difficult to sum up the uniqueness of the city in just one image.
“It’s difficult to describe Cape Town and that is what I’m trying to capture in this year. Taking 365 aspects of this beautiful place. I think it’s the love that the people who live here have for this place and the variety of beauty. There are mountains, oceans and forest and all kinds of people and things happening.”
The awesome thing about Lorraine’s project is that anyone can become involved in the creativeness. As the project evolved, more people started booking sentimental dates and making suggestions on what to paint. Lorraine will hand-write a personal message on the back of the piece, and send out a postcard version to whoever requests one.
Have there been some utterly crazy suggestions? I ask.
“Someone asked me to paint the Internet. I was completely blown away and I had no idea what it meant.”
So what did she do?
Lorraine giggles as she says, “Luckily the date that he wanted to book wasn’t available so we didn’t have to delve into what the Internet would look like within a 3cm format.”
WHO :: Lorraine Loots
WHAT :: 365 Paintings for Ants and 365 Postcards for Ants