What I Learned from The 100 Day Project

I am so grateful that I pushed myself to participate in and complete the 100 Day Project.

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My goals for my project:

  • My intent for the project was to find a way to paint more without relying on my signature style of black outlines specifically for interiors.
  • I wanted to learn to paint more loosely with watercolor and use color to define the spaces, rather than ink outlines.
  • I wanted to develop my personal style more and create a cohesive body of work rather than disjointed pieces.
  • I also wanted to have fun and learn more about myself.

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My guidelines for the project were:

  • Create a vignette. It could be an interior, an exterior, or an outdoor space
  • Use watercolors on paper but no ink
  • Try to do this daily, but realize your limitations.
  • Remember that your family and sanity come first, and don’t be so hard on yourself!

What I learned:

  1. I needed to have a plan in place and remove as much of the decision making as possible. I knew I had to use watercolor and paint some type of space that humans may encounter. It was helpful and I’ve learned over time that I thrive on having limits to be more creative and inspired
  2. Create limits and structure for yourself if necessary. I learned that I needed to create a story to inspire these vignettes to inform my choices of furniture, pattern, colors and make the vignette make sense.
  3. I reconnected with my love of the narrative and creative writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it’s been years since I’ve made up stories. Who knew I loved making up stories? I was dealing with a major life transition myself, and am interested in strong females, so many of the stories had that in common.
  4. Projects and big ideas make me bolder. Quickly being part of a bigger project is empowering. Once I saw how quickly my artwork was building up, I wanted to see it next to other people’s projects. It made me reach out and find other Philly artists doing this project. I met Sarah Ferone, and we teamed up to see if we could get a group show. We made a proposal and everything. It did not end up happening (I also found out I was moving to Florida right around that time), but I did learn a lot. I realized it would not be that scary to put together a show one day or submit my own work.
  5. Community is key, find your peeps. Since the show idea didn’t work due to time and logistics, we instead had a simple yet wonderful meetup at a beer garden in Philly. It is one of the most wonderful things in the world to connect via social media with like minded people. It is even better to meet up with those people in real life. I was thrilled to share some beers with the talented artists Sarah Ferone, Terri Fry Kasuba, Mary Kate McDevitt, Melissa McFeeters, and Barb Chotiner.

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What didn’t work:

  • There were some days that I could not do it. I was exhausted, I wasn’t inspired, or just didn’t feel like it. I didn’t sweat it, because this is a way of life in a way – the deciding to do what matters most.
  • I didn’t finish it on time. I had a lot on my plate and this had to move down on my list of priorities. That’s life and it happens. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Just rewrite the rules. (I was never good at following them anyway).

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My tips:

  1. Don’t overthink things and your materials are not that precious. Use your good watercolor paper. Make mistakes. Make something different out of the mistake. Take the pressure off of yourself to be perfect. Just get things done. Put it away, let it go and move on. The one time I went back into something, I regretted it. But you know what? It’s still fine. And at first it felt too precious to use my good paper to experiment. So I would use my mixed-media pad instead to just create and not worry. But once I started forcing myself to use the good paper, it was fine and I adjusted. If I found myself overthinking something, I went back to my sketchpad or painted smaller that day.
  2. You can find small moments to create no matter how busy or frustrating a day you have had. But it’s a choice, and sometimes you have to give something up. Sleep before work. TV. Time with people you love. The idea of a clean home. It’s up to you what makes the most sense that day and be nice to yourself!
  3. Have a designated space if possible. It’s easier to create daily depending upon the medium and having a designated place to work that doesn’t require a lot of set-up or take-down. Watercolor and gouache are especially good for this. particularly watercolor, since if your palette dries, you just add more water later. Now I don’t have a designated space, but I have a bookshelf with a tray I can carry and that works just fine!
  4. Sometimes you just need to show up and make crap. But don’t stop, keep making something! As Elle Luna said, “Show up, show up, show up!” It’s about doing the work, slogging through, not being so hard on yourself, and seeing where the process takes you.
  5. Public accountability is empowering. Accountability and working with others (especially posting on Instagram) helped to keep me going. But I also realized that my goal was to finish the project and learn. It’s not a competition with others, it’s about yourself.

Why I’m glad I did it:

  • I’m proud of myself for completing this big project.
  • I really love many of the paintings I created.
  • It built my confidence in my work and myself as an artist and writer.
  • It made me learn to paint quicker and experiment with my style in a cohesive way.
  • It showed me what I most wanted in my life, because I found myself inspired by places, stories, and things that I wanted myself! For example, having a garden, moving home to Florida,  an outdoor or tropical lifestyle, being near family, having a simpler life, and needing a creative component in my life, in whatever shape that takes
  • I think I’ll keep finding things that were great about doing this project, and see how those tiny steps led to larger steps that will lead me to bigger dreams down the road. Like making this into a self-published book and selling the prints and originals soon!

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11 thoughts on “What I Learned from The 100 Day Project

  1. Marissa, it is so interesting to hear your goals, learnings, and growth from this project. The pictures are lovely, but knowing the overarching story behind the project make it particularly fascinating. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we all grow in different ways doing different things, and we learn things about ourselves that surprise us along the way.

    I’m rooting for you and think you are completely wonderful! b.

  2. Hi Marisa.

    What a great post. And thanks for including me. I wonder if you didn’t move, you and sarah had gotten the show together if I would have finished the 100 days! I’m so glad you wrote this post. I only made it 35 days but was proud of what I accomplished during the time and would be thrilled if I had 65 more pieces/experiments/painted moments. it was so nice to meet you – right before you moved. What you say rings true. Limitations and ease (of access to materials) makes this easier. Once I strayed from my original project limits it was easier to slip. The accountability factor is also huge. It’s hard at times to self declare a project but when others are doing it at the same time there is something powerful that happens. Keep up this awesome blog and here’s to 100 days in 2016. 🙂

  3. That is too funny, Barb! I read this one first and thought you were wondering why I had linked to you. hahaha! Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful comments. Some projects you have to give up, I certainly have. But look what you have done in the meantime! Good grief. Super thrilled for you!

  4. This is so inspiring 🙂 Thank you for taking time to write down some tips and what worked for you and what didn’t. I’m planning to start my 100 day project and yes I’m both excited and scared at the same time. Cheers!

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