What 100 Days Taught Me: Reflections on #the100dayproject2019
In late March 2019, a lifelong friend suggested I join her on an art challenge entitled "#the100dayproject," one hundred consecutive days of creating. The rules of the project were 100 days of a publicly posted daily creative practice. In an online review of past projects, I found folks who had painted animals on tea bags, done a daily doodle, made a daily collage, created a daily quilting square, and painted a daily portrait. The projects were varied and inspiring- so much work developed in just 100 days. The possibilities were endless.
At the time, I had a weekly oil painting routine with a lovely group of women in Salt Lake City, but progress on paintings was slow. I wasn't painting enough. I was still unboxing myself after years of caregiving for two demented parents. I wanted to elevate my painting game, and 100 days of painting seemed an excellent way to create a lot of work in a relatively short time.
Ultimately I landed on the rules for my project: 100 watercolors, based on photos on my phone, each watercolor completed in a single day. Once the day concluded, there was no going back. No touch-ups, no do-overs. Unbeknownst to me, I had created a deeply challenging project that would convey a sense of place, a visual map of what inspired and comforted me, and an experience that would point to what was holding me back from a complete human expression.
So what did I learn in one hundred days? Over the arc of the project, I experienced much of the technical development I expected. I honed my sketching skills, developed my understanding of watercolor, and explored the use of color, but I also met my deeply personal narratives. I did not expect to meet my story.
During the project, as I worked to create new habits around daily painting, I still had the same family responsibilities- kids to get to school, meals to make, laundry to clean, and a garden to plant. Did I have enough time to do a painting a day? As the hundred days passed, I began to see the story I was creating around worth. Was I worthy of my time to paint? Wouldn't taking care of someone be more culturally acceptable? Was my desire worthy of taking time to paint at the expense of my other responsibilities? Was my artistic pursuit worthy of being seen? A pattern emerged. I realized I was constantly hustling for what the culture deemed "good," acceptable, and honorable. I had chased a sense of worth so thoroughly I had lost bits of myself. The chase had kept me from fully expressing what I had felt called to do for 40 years- to paint!
As the weeks passed and more people saw my work publicly posted, fear arose. I had another narrative brewing that told me I was making a fool of myself. I fought off thoughts that people were quietly rolling their eyes or smirking at my public display of "skill-less" paintings. The project transformed into a challenge to question my thoughts and then let them go. I reminded myself once the daily painting was created and posted, it was over; no rumination, no hindrance, no fear.
Ultimately, the project gave me a framework in which I became intimate with my patterns and stories. How was time spent? What if someone else did that chore? Why do I always insist on doing that house duty? Could I be more productive if I focus on creating before doing for others? What thought came up when I did that? Did all roads lead to validating my worth? What if I was born worthy?
The exercise of daily painting and publicly posting gave me a daily space in my day to question my beliefs and see what I created with my stories. I watched as my thoughts started my behavior. My behavior then reinforced my narrative, and my narrative created my reality. Change my thoughts, change my experience of reality. Ultimately, the most incredible thing I realized:
We create our reality: and we make our experiences of each other.
What if we all lightly held our narratives, loosely held "our truth?" What could we create? What fear could we relinquish? What relationship could we repair? What problem could we solve?
If you've read this far, consider doing your own 100-Day project. I promise if you complete one, you'll develop skills, but you might also meet something deeper, your nature- and wouldn't that be lovely?
You can visit and purchase work from "The 100 Day Project" on this site, under https://candacemclane.com/collections/the100dayproject-show.