Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trying New Things

The 100 Day Project is a worldwide collective art project in which participants do something creative every day for 100 days and post about it on Instagram. There are no rules and what you do is completely up to you. I first heard about it sometime last year, after reading The Crossroads of Should and Must (the author, Elle Luna, is one of the organizers), but I didn't join in because I was getting ready for our big trip.

This year the project began on April 4, the exact same day I finished The Artist's Way, which was too much of a coincidence to pass up. I spent some time mulling over what kind of creative project I would want to work on every day for 100 days. I considered nature journaling, a poem-a-day, a flash fiction a day, sketchbook, and watercolor. The writing ideas didn't inspire me—I've been writing every day for a very long while and I've done a poem-a-day twice before for National Poetry Writing Month—I've also nature journaled (nearly) every day for a whole year before. I wanted to do something new and challenging and watercolor painting drew my interest more than anything else: I've always wanted to learn, but have never had the patience. This would be my chance: If I can't figure it out in 100 days (that's like 3.25 months!!), then I never will.

Still, after coming to that decision, I still had some resistance, mainly to do with the mess and the hassle of getting out paints, setting up, cleaning up. I resolved this by buying a super cheap watercolor set with lots of colors. I know it's generally preferable to use high-quality art supplies when learning, but these $5 paints helped me overcome the mess and setup issues and also made it okay to make a mess and "waste" paint, which a $75 set would tie me up in knots about.

So far it's been fun and I've learned a bit. It's also really hard. It requires patience and an understanding of how the paint behaves. I'm still in the stage of trying to control the paint. I have not graduated to the level of working with the paint to create the effects I desire. I alternate between lessons I found on some random website and just playing around with the paint. I prefer the playing around to the lessons, but I am beginning to understand why piano teachers make you learn scales before you can play songs—a solid foundation is helpful.

The picture above is in the playing around category. It's my second attempt. The first ended up a muddy mess. (When I turned the page to start again, E said, "Don't be a quitter, Mom." I showed him that I finished the first painting, but I wanted to do it again to make it better. Later he said I should get a job as a book illustrator. "I've seen some drawings in books that are way worse than yours. Or maybe you can be a butterfly painter." Aww, kids.)

Forty days in, I've hit a bit of a lull. Or maybe it's a plateau. I feel less compelled to do a painting every day (and I even missed a day this weekend!). It may be time to mix things up, get out the tube paints (or at least the slightly higher-quality travel watercolors), take a real lesson, or establish some sort of goal or theme.

Have you tried something new lately, started a new hobby, or set a creative goal for yourself?

You can see more on Instagram @andrea.lani and #100daysofandrealearningtopaint

Also see #the100dayproject and check out all the cool, crazy, and creative things people are doing.

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