Like many creative people, Natalie Cooperman had fallen into a rut. After 10 years working as a textile/graphic designer from 9 to 5—or later—her schedule left little time and enthusiasm for personal passions at home.
"I felt like I did not have the energy to create artwork in my free time," she said. So in January she resolved to draw more with the caveat that if she posted her mission online she might complete it.
Cooperman's original idea was to produce 50 drawings in 50 days. She launched a website, nattmade, to document her progress and secured an exhibition at Mini Bar on April 10.
"I draw based on photographs and decided I wanted to draw my neighborhood and my everyday life," said Cooperman, who lives in Carroll Gardens. "Doing that, I quickly fell in love again with drawing. I was completely consumed, scrambling off the train after work and drawing deep into the night."
As her posts online increased, strangers began reaching out to ask if they were for sale.
"I sold my first print ever, then another and another," she said excitedly. "Then I drew my first pet portrait, then a friend's son and it snowballed."
At the end of the project deadline Cooperman had completed 147 artworks and more than 30 commissioned pieces. Because of the limited space at Mini Bar, some of the work that could not fit in the exhibit will be viewable in a video.
When asked if there is a particularly coveted piece from the project, she is unable to pick.
"I love my neighborhood and its hard to choose my favorite," said Cooperman. "I love Esposito and Sons because of the crazy pig in front. I loved Sunny's [in Red Hook] because I spent so much of my 20s laughing and having drinks with friends there. And I love my apartment building—the drawing is called Luquer Street—because it was my first storefront ever and when I realized I could draw them."
That was the first of many realizations during the project, she said.
"This has been one of the best experiences of my life," Cooperman told us. "I have never felt so inspired. I have had friends reach out and tell me they are going to start something they love and set goals. I have friends who suffered big losses, whether pet or family member, and I have drawn them and seen how that can help. I have now made artwork for people I don't know, from cats in California to dogs in Indiana. And I have shown myself and the people around me it is never too late to start again."
The Natalie Cooperman 50 Days of Drawing Project will open on Wednesday, April 10 at Mini Bar, 482 Court Street. Opening party from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.