Art Practice

100 Days of Shapemaking 2020 – Covid Edition

This year I completed my third 100 day project, creating and posting artwork on Instagram. After skipping it in 2019, I felt a void. The project keeps me making. It allows time to tune out distractions – focus only on space, edges, flat fields, the sense of tension, and dimension. I started April 8, 2020, a day after the official start of the 100 Day Project. Previously, in 2017 & 2018, I completed the project exactly in 100 days. Not this go-round. Pandemic in process, I gave myself a lot of slack. With my day job keeping me busier than ever, fitting in art-making every consecutive day was adding too much pressure. I wanted to be easier on myself. Mental and physical health during this time of the Pandemic is precious and requires effort. Sadly also during this time, my Mother-in-law became ill and passed away. Not to COVID, but cancer. It was shockingly fast, and we miss her very much.

So when it was too much I skipped days and ultimately I finished no. 100 on August 14.

More minimal

Grid of nine abstract bold shapemaking images by Leslie Newman
Shapemaking 2020 No. 83 thru 91 (July 27 – August 5)

The world was/is on edge, agitated, and overwhelming, so I seek simplicity and refuge. When creating the 2020 series, I pared down to essentials, worked with just one color plus black and grays, and limited the shapes. In my toolbox are edges, flat fields, space, and tension. The process is carving and molding shapes and negative space to create something out of nothing. They nudge the brain to see dimension in a flat surface and the eye to explore form and space. Take a breath. Stir something indescribable. Calming or invigorating? Curiously satisfying. 

Community support

When you post your work on Instagram, you get instant gratification. (And that’s not always a bad thing, right? 😉 Art people are kind and generous. Truly, engagement and comments provide energy to keep creating. It feels good to be putting something out there. I know my work’s not for everyone. And it pleases me that I really don’t care about that. I want to satisfy myself and create an expression that is unique to me.

COVID and Black Lives Matter

The intensity of the year can’t go unmentioned (and it’s not over yet.) While the pandemic rages, the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other BIPOC at the hands of police push us towards a reckoning. America begins to wake up and starts calling out racial injustice and systemic racism. Many white Americans look in the mirror and join in the mourning and protests. There’s a glimmer of hope that we can pull together, face reality, and make progress. It’s a task that has no end. And after the close election results, it’s clear we indeed have a very long way to go. It’s heartbreaking all around.

So it goes. I’ll keep making art and strive to stay hopeful. Be well


To commemorate this series, I’ve produced three affordable, 13″ x 19″ inch mini-posters. 

No. 58 becomes Landing Party

Bold blue orange and gold abstract, evoking Star Trek Landing Party by Lel Newman
Landing Party

“Landing Party” is one of the few of my Shapemaking artworks that have a non-numerical title. When my husband suggested it I instantly got it. I said “Yes! that’s perfect”. So far, no one else has instantly “got it”. Do you get it? I explain below, but first, let me tell you a little about my trouble with titles.

Naming abstract artwork is not easy for me

The process of making the artwork is what I enjoy most. Making shapes, modifying the form, space, and color to the point I’m satisfied and feel that jolt of art-joy. I hope the viewer will feel the same. I’m done, so what’s next? Oh the hard part for me… giving the artwork a title. If I plan to share the work on Instagram, as I often do, I’m kinda in a hurry so I will usually just date it and not bother with a title. I can worry about that later.

Day 95 of abstract art making

4 colorful compositions by Leslie (Lel) Newman
No. 61, 62, 63 & 64 from my 100 Day Instagram Art Challenge – 100 Days of Shapemaking

My 100 Day Project 2018 is wrapping up soon. I’ll post number 95 today, next Wednesday, July 11 will be number 100! That’s on Instagram of course.

My 100 Day art practice

Every night I sit down and create a piece of personal art. Although I’m trained in the ways of color and composition, it’s become a somewhat instinctual act. I start with one shape. Then add, subtract and multiply until I’m content, or too tired to go on. I can’t just bag it, I have to post. That’s what the challenge is about. Don’t abandon your idea because it isn’t perfect, work with it until it’s good enough. Like last year, after 100 I’ll have a good handful I’m very pleased with and I’ll finish them off and print them. To hold them in my hands is very satisfying. The color is rich, the paper is lush, they’re gems of my own creation. Ooh, I’m a little dizzy. Get a grip! …