The 100 day project, and why I'm not doing one. (Or am I?)

 Big Pink. An acrylic painting that was born out of a failed sketchbook experiment. (So even the bad sketches can lead somewhere interesting if you let them.)

Big Pink. An acrylic painting that was born out of a failed sketchbook experiment. (So even the bad sketches can lead somewhere interesting if you let them.)

its that time again. Your Instagram and Facebook feeds are probably full of beautiful 100 day projects. Incredible drawings of people, daily doodles, crafts, landscapes, you name it, everyone is joining the movement, and trying to stand out in the crowd. Don't get me wrong, I love this! I love the energy and camaraderie that goes along with joining a giant group project like this. But you won't see the 100 day project hashtag in my feed. Stick with me, and I'll tell you why...

A little over a year ago, I began a sketchbook project that changed the way I draw and paint. It wasn't an official 100 day project, but it became a 365 day project. Every day, I sat down with my sketchbook, and I drew something. The early sketches were bad. Very bad. But they got better. Incrementally, each day, things got better, until I was happy and proud to post the pages I had done each day. Slowly but surely, the time I spent on them began to get longer, and I started futzing with them, and fine tuning them, until they were little precious paintings instead of the loose, sketchbook experiments I had originally planned.

 View from a local vineyard painted in traditional colors. Fun to paint, but not really "me."

View from a local vineyard painted in traditional colors. Fun to paint, but not really "me."

Then came the resistance. I just didn't feel like it anymore. While there is something to be said for just doing it anyway and breaking through the resistance, I listened to it because it was telling me something. So I backed off. I sketched only when I wanted to. I posted things other than my sketchbook work; like paintings in progress, or photos that inspired me. I experimented with new media. Some of these ended up in the trash, others became the basis for bigger paintings. 

 A different view from the same vineyard. Still not quite sure where I'm headed, but this one feels more like "me.." There are plenty more landscape experiments to come.

A different view from the same vineyard. Still not quite sure where I'm headed, but this one feels more like "me.." There are plenty more landscape experiments to come.

When the 100 day project started to come up this year, I wracked my brains for an idea that would be interesting enough to cary through for that length of time. I've had a few things in mind that I would like to practice more - drawing and painting people, landscapes, mixed media. I even thought about doing a  whole 100 day project focusing on dynamic composition. All are areas I would like to work on and improve. But do I have to choose only one? So I will be thinking of all of these things. Every day. Probably I will still be thinking and working on them a year from now, and ten years from now. I will go where the inspiration leads, but not on a strictly laid out path of my own making. You never know when you might come to a fork in the road, and if you stick doggedly ahead on the path you laid out for yourself, you might miss the magical place along the other road.

The first year of my project was all about setting the routine, and it was important for me to commit to a strict path. That is what the 100 day project is about isn't it? Finding something interesting and diving in deep, exploring it fully, challenging yourself, and creating a habit. Now that painting has become a habit as necessary to me as breathing, I feel can give myself some looser parameters. I'll be following Isabelle Allende's advice, because if the muse speaks to me and says "turn left onto that weird path you can't see very clearly" who am I to say no? Perhaps, I am doing a 100 day project after all. Perhaps, my project should be titled 100 Days of Showing Up for the Muse?