Well-oiled for a year

Inspired: Andy Cropper works on a painting.
Inspired: Andy Cropper works on a painting.
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IT is a personal challenge that might not be to everyone’s pallet – but Andy Cropper insists he’s got the strokes for it.

He’s a Highfield-based artist, and over the next year he has set himself something of a test: to produce an oil painting for every single day of 2013.

“Why?” he ponders. “Why not? Some people do something similar but taking a photo for every date in a year. I just thought I’d go one step further.

“How’s it gone so far? Not easy. Sometimes I’m still up at 3am but it’s all part of the fun... I think.”

Ah, the humble 365-project? A self-imposed schedule designed to ensure discipline among creative-types. Participants set themselves a daily task – such as writing a poem – and then post the results online for all to judge. But not many are brave enough to commit themselves to a daily work of art.

“Sometimes my paintings can take years,” explains Andy, who appeared on this page in 2010 after being commissioned to produce a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. “I start. I leave. I go back. This seemed like a good way of disciplining myself.”

He knows it won’t be easy, of course.

Timewise, they can take anything from an hour up to nine – “it can be hard to fit life around that,” notes the 41-year-old who lives with partner Nigel Slack.

And subject-wise? Well, he’s aware he will have to be inspired by some pretty random things over the 12 months.

So far, the works have included everything from majestic sunsets to shimmering street lamps, from a grandfather clock to a, er, toilet roll holder.

“That was my first one on January 1,” he remembers. “I did it because it just made me pause for a moment.”

Before any crude jokes begin, there was paper on the holder.

Other subjects, meanwhile, include a candle, a rubber duck and a pawn.

“The only thing the paintings have in common is they’re all on a 25 by 25cm board,” explains Andy. “Other than that, the subject depends on what I’ve seen that day. I’m just looking for something that resonates. Does that sound arty?”

No comment. But, however it sounds, it looks terrific.

And he’s hoping, when it’s done, the entire body will be exhibited in a city gallery: “that’s the aim,” he says.

For now, though, don’t tell anyone but he’s got just a little behind. Like he says it ain’t easy but he’s hoping to catch up when the days get lighter and the subjects brighter. Especially now he’s been in The Star.

Visit www.paintingsbyandy.blogspot.co.uk

Year of artistic inspiration

THE 365-project is a relatively new concept where participants do something creative – write a haiku or take a photo, perhaps – every single day for a whole calendar year.

Famous examples include an American girl who took 365 pictures of her face and a chap who shot whatever was above him at a certain time each day. Both were more entertaining than you may think.

In 2010, Walkley photographer Luke Avery snapped a different person in a different part of Sheffield for every date. A resulting exhibition attracted hundreds of viewers.