I have developed a process of making art on a regular basis which I call the Every Day Project. In January 2015, I challenged myself to come up with 14 days of designs. In a way, I wanted to prove to myself that I had many creative ideas and wouldn't hit the wall of creator’s block. I knew that designing my projects is my favorite part of the process so I decided to do more of it every day. I started a notebook in Evernote and added an entry each day. At first, I started out with sketches of completed projects with actual measurements of each design element and decisions on which fabric I would use. This quickly became such a burden that I did not want to do it every day and Resistance (See last week's article about Steven Pressfield's book War of Art) reared its ugly head. So I improvised and decided I really like the design part and could commit to at least coming up with a design idea and document it each day. I completed my 14 day challenge, but by the end of the 14 days, I ended up just adding photos of design inspirations for my daily entries. This was enough. I really did not want to come up with an entire project idea every day. It would create a mental backlog of projects I could never complete. I really just was training myself to look for inspiration around me. I was hooked on doing something every day. But I had no idea where to start.
In April 2015, I found out about a program called Creative Mornings. There are chapters in cities around the world where they hold breakfast morning meetings every month with great speakers. I followed a link from their website to a list of newsletters that they really liked. I stumbled upon the 100 Day Project for 2015 being sponsored by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent magazine. But the start date was April 6 and it was just a few days away.
I was quite nervous to delve into the 100 Day Project, but I knew that feeling was a sign to pursue this and just do it. In hindsight, this project changed the way I work and make art.
I needed a small size project I could make and post a photo of every day. I decided on a 6 inch square and an improv sewing process. I picked a variety of colors to use and stayed with them. I needed something to tie all the pieces together. I knew the designs would purposely by varied, every day. So colors needed to be the connecting link. I sew 25 days together in consecutive order into a larger square. The process is a traditional quilting style of piecing a quilt top but the subject matter is decidedly modern with an abstract art emphasis seeing each 6 inch square as a piece of abstract art all in itself.
The 6 inch square became such a habit in 100 days that I decided to continue. I went 250 days of creating every day in 2015. I only took a two week break over the Winter Holidays (And I missed it). I was more productive than ever by just making one 6 inch square a day. I have contemplated this phenomenon for a long time because it is so counterintuitive.
The 100 Day Project in 2015 was a challenge for me artistically. As I mentioned, I had color themes of bright bold colors balancing hot and cold with neutrals. However I had no design restrictions.
The freedom was intoxicating at times, but a huge burden other times. When the sky is the limit, it is often hard to get started.
So I knew the next series would have to have some design guidelines if I was going to keep going. Going forward, I decided to pick a theme for the 25 day pieces. I preselect the fabric and decide on general design guidelines for a sort of structure and then ask what if I do this…and I push the limits of that design. I play with the possible variations and allow myself to break some rules if need be. This must have kicked the Resistance to the curb because I am still making art every day.
Now the 100 Day Project is running again from April 19 to July 27 in 2016. I am going to do it again, or rather just continue to do it. This year I am designing the next 100 days to be a coordinated theme. I have chosen to use the 4 Elements: Fire, Earth, Sky and Water. I have been sketching ideas searching for the balance of constraints and freedom. I need the design and color guidelines to be easily accessible with enough freedom to play around and make each day interesting and new.
Interested in joining me? Here is a link to Elle Luna's Instagram page.
Debating what would be a good project to do? What have you always wanted to try? Watercolors? Try a 5 inch square a day. Like listening to new music? Make a new playlist on Spotify every day and post them. Play the piano? Learn a few measures of a song out of a new music book each day. Like your phone camera? Take a photo each day and explore new photography apps and filters. Like smoothies? 100 days of smoothies. New to knitting? Knit for 30 minutes a day on a project. You get the idea.
After 100 days of doing any creative activity, you will learn what you like to do and what you do not like to do. It will change you, I guarantee. You will be learning how to use your creative voice. You can decide to share what you make or not. Post on any social media platform you like. If that is not your cup of tea, document in a journal or photo album. The community on Instagram for the 100 days project is so supportive. They become your accountability partners and I still follow several of the people from the 100 Day Project last year.
Take the leap and join in.