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I Painted Every Day for 100 Days, Here’s What Happened

· Painting,About Us

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you saw that I finished up my #the100DayProject. #the100DayProject is a worldwide movement encouraging creativity and (for better or worse) making habits stick. This project also provides a source of much-needed momentum to start and keep going. It was dreamed up by artists and makers Elle Luna and Lindsay Jean Thomson. You pick one thing you want to do every day for 100 days and then you do it. It sounds simple, but there are always stumbling blocks, and of course, lessons along the way.

My #the100DayProject

My project was #100DaysofDotDotDot, seen here on Instagram with my special hashtag that I used to post each piece. As you can see, there are lots of dots, mostly abstract images and playful feelings. Even though I am an artist and have made it my life’s work to help others live off their artwork, I haven’t made time to create anything myself in a very long time. Instead, I made all kinds of excuses not to paint for the better part of 10 years, despite constantly acknowledging that it’s an important part in my life and how much I miss painting.

This project was incredibly powerful. In school, my artistic practice felt very regimented. There wasn’t time to play and explore ranges of expression. I worked from deadline to deadline and constantly worried what others would think of my art. If you know anything about creativity, that is a surefire way to squash it; you must do it for you, not for someone else.

What I Learned

With #the100DayProject, I was finally able to have an experimental practice and outlet. When not working under a deadline, it’s much easier to allow the work to flow and not worry about the end results. This was all about setting the intention to paint something, anything, everyday. Then sitting back down and doing it again the next day and the day after that. It was more about the practice than the end project.

It does require discipline, though, and I took my little painting kit along with me on a weekend trip to Chicago for one of my best friend’s bachelorette party. Painting breaks throughout the weekend were a non-negotiable. It felt good to commit to something and know that even when my surroundings changed or my routine was displaced, I was still able to hold firm to my time to paint.

A requirement of this project was to post a picture each day of what you did. It helped to stay accountable, though there were individual pieces that I hated before I posted them (I’m looking at you pizza slice). There were some choices that I probably wouldn’t make again: color combinations, patterns, and so on. And of course, the heartbreak that comes with having a piece that I really liked, only to get a drop of water or smudge the paint at the last minute. But I was finally able to drop my perfectionism, even when something bugged me, because I knew I’d be right back at it again tomorrow. Gone was the feeling that this was the last chance to create something and I had to make it count.

So, What's Next?

The finished #100DaysofDotDotDot pieces need to be photographed professionally by Nathan before anything else can happen. That’s when I know they’re really complete. Then, the options are endless. I will definitely be adding my favorites and those that are popular on Instagram to our society6 shop. I also had a friend request a coffee table book of sorts, which sounds like great fun and an option to explore.

Overall, #the100DayProject was intensely valuable. It has been wonderful to see everyone’s progress and how their projects have evolved over the period of 100 days. From rediscovering my art to learning how to ditch the perfect act and just make something for me, I was able to change how I see my artistic practice. While I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with these pieces, I do know that I will continue to paint.

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