Artist and software engineer Tara Feener misses home. A Newfoundlander living in Brooklyn, Feener decided to remedy her homesickness by illustrating 100 things that she misses about her home province over the course of 100 days. And because we love all things East Coast (especially when they're gorgeous drawings), we asked her to answer some questions about her 100 Days of Newfoundland Project.
How did you come up with the idea of the project?
The 100 Day project was originally created by Michael Bierut at the Yale School of Art as a workshop. He encouraged his class to repeat one creative action everyday for one hundred days, sharing it along the way. A graphic designer, Elle Luna, heard about the workshop and adapted it as a project on social media last year with several others, including a couple friends of mine from San Francisco. I was incredibly inspired by their projects (one was a hundred days of Nicolas Cage) and declared I would do it next year ... and here we are! For years I have been wanting to do something related to Newfoundland and Labrador as a way to connect with home, and I could never find the right medium. The project felt like the right medium: bring daily creativity together with reconnecting to home. A third thing has shaken out of the project since day one, and that’s community.
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Can you talk about the process of illustrating and writing each photo?
Each illustration is created digitally on my iPad using the app Paper by FiftyThree and my trusty stylus, Pencil. FiftyThree is a startup based in New York and Seattle which creates tools for creativity. I’m a software engineer at the company by day and have been doing digital iPad illustration now for over three years. I wake up each morning at 7:30 and create a new blank page in the app. I like to give each illustration a title to start things off, and have had fun using song lyrics or puns to craft each one. I usually spend about an hour doing the outline in ink, and then the remainder of the time carefully colouring them in and applying shading. The great thing about digital creation is you can rewind to undo a mistake, mix the perfect colour, or zoom in to add a detail. It’s been a lot of fun and really rewarding to use the project and service I work on by day as an engineer in a creative passion outside the office.
As for each caption, I do a fair amount of reading on Wikipedia and other historical sites to find as many interesting facts about each person, place, or thing, and try to keep description to a short paragraph. Writing the captions has become a really surprisingly rewarding part of the project ... I’ve learned so much about Newfoundland in the process and have enjoyed writing as a complementary creative outlet to illustration.
Are homesick Newfoundlanders drawn to it?
Absolutely, including yours truly! It’s hard not to feel homesick when you spend an hour or two illustrating and reading about an interesting slice of home. I’ve gotten lots of notes from friends overseas or living away telling me they’ve been checking in daily. I like to flip homesickness upside down though, and try to think about it as a daily dose of home to keep me company between trips.
Have you come up with a list of 100 things or are you taking suggestions from people?
I started out with a list of 100 things that I crafted before the project began but tossed it to the side on the first day. I found having a structured list defeated the creativity aspect of the project I was looking for. Instead I go with my gut and draw the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning or the last thing I thought of before going to bed. I’ve absolutely been taking suggestions and I’ve been so lucky to have so many wonderful people from home sending them my way: thank you! Most recently a relative from Newfoundland living in Liverpool sent me a list of some of his favourite memories from home and that’s how I found out about Hooping Harbour. I think it’s easy to forgot how much of home you’ve yet to explore.
Do you have any favourites?
Yes! One Sunday morning I was feeling nostalgic for Mallard Cottage, my favorite restaurant at home, and specifically their brunch. They have a really incredible ‘cake table’ with a pastry chef who creates incredible baked goods using local Newfoundland elements. It’s so colourful, and delicious of course, and I had a really fun time bringing it to life. The Fogo Island Inn is another one... I’ve so badly been wanting to see it in person but drawing it was a close second. Berry Head Arch and Red Bay are two sights I shamefully didn’t know about in Newfoundland and Labrador, so drawing each was fun and special ... I can’t wait to visit them someday. And lastly, I did Cod Jigging last week with a really colourful jig and reel, inspired by a cool photo I found on Google Images.
Do you plan on doing anything else with the illustrations? Collecting them? T-Shirts?
I haven’t decided what I’ll do quite yet. I started getting really excited about that during the first week but made myself a promise: that I’d wait until day 80 or so to start thinking about it as to not get ahead of myself. I’ve had folks ask about a book or prints and I’d love to make either/both happen, but we’ll see. For now I’m having fun creating and composing them into little collections afterwards in Photoshop. I know at a minimum I’ll certainly be looking to celebrate the project with friends, family and community at the end of the 100 days, and coincidentally have a trip planned for St. John’s for the wedding of two close friends in August, so the timing will work out nicely!
You can check out Feener's 100 Days Of Newfoundland series on Instagram and also on her Medium blog.
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