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  • Sheryl Brake

Personal Reflections on Completing a 100-Day Project: Artist's Tips for Overcoming Challenges for a Positive Result

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to paint a small painting every day for 100 days? In February 2023, I embarked on the 100-Day project, a challenge to do something creative every day for 100 days. What I thought would be a fun and easy project turned out to be one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done as an artist thus far. In this blog post, I will reveal the challenges of my 100-Day project and tips for overcoming them, the surprising results of the project and a few valuable lessons and insights I gained as an artist.



If you would like to know more about the 100-Day Project, you can read this post where I explain why I decided to do it and what my goals and objectives were. You can also check out this post where I share my progress and learnings at the 40-painting mark.






The 100-Day Project Challenges and Setbacks and Tips for Overcoming Them


Doing a 100-Day project is not easy. It requires a lot of time, effort and commitment. Along the way, I faced challenges and setbacks that tested my patience and perseverance. Here are some of the major ones and tips for overcoming them:


Finding time to paint every day.


One of the biggest challenges for me during this project was finding time to paint every day. Life is busy and unpredictable, and there were many days when I had other priorities or obligations that took up most of my time. Sometimes, I had to squeeze in a quick painting session late at night or early in the morning, or even skip a day and catch up later.


To overcome this challenge, I had to make painting a priority and a habit. I had to set a specific time and place for painting every day and stick to it as much as possible. I also had to be flexible and adaptable and adjust my schedule and expectations according to the circumstances. I learned to accept that some days I would paint better than others, and that the quality of my paintings was not as important as the consistency of my practice.


Dealing with creative blocks and boredom


Another challenge for me during this project was dealing with creative blocks and boredom. Painting every day can be fun and exciting, but it can also be repetitive and tedious. There were many days when I felt uninspired, unmotivated, or bored with my painting. I struggled to come up with new ideas, techniques, or styles to keep my painting fresh and interesting.


To overcome this challenge, I had to seek inspiration and variety in my painting. I had to look for new sources of inspiration, such as nature, books, my kitchen, or other artists. I also had to experiment with different techniques, colors, or themes to challenge myself and expand my skills. I learned to embrace the process of painting, and not to focus too much on the outcome or the result.


Facing criticism and self-doubt


The final challenge for me during this project was facing criticism and self-doubt. Painting every day and sharing my work with the world was a vulnerable and scary thing to do. I was exposing myself to the opinions and judgments of others, and sometimes, they were not very positive or supportive and sometimes just crickets. I also had to deal with my own inner critic, who often told me that my paintings were not good enough, original enough, or worthy enough.


To overcome this challenge, I had to develop a positive and confident mindset. I had to remind myself that painting was something I did for myself, not for others, and that the purpose of the project was to learn and grow, not to impress or please. I also had to appreciate and celebrate my progress and achievements, and not to compare myself or my work with others. I learned to accept and love my paintings, and to be proud of myself for completing the project.


So, what kept me going, you ask?


Accountability.  Because I made my project public - with my email subscribers, on my social media accounts and here on my blog, there is a certain amount of accountability to not to give up. While it took longer than 100 days, accountability gave me the willpower I needed to see the project through to the end.


A grouping of miniature watercolor paintings depicting mountain scenes by Sheryl Brake

Some of my favorite pieces


The Surprising Results and Benefits of the Project

Doing a 100-Day project can have many benefits for you as an artist and a business owner. Here are some of the benefits that I experienced and how you can enjoy them too:


The 2023 100 Day project resulted in - you guessed it - 100 paintings. All complete with multiple product shots and listed on my website for sale. No small task to be sure. It was certainly one of the most challenging things I have done as an artist - not in terms of skill, but in terms of tenacity and determination to compete a project.


Some of the benefits of my project include:


Experimenting with Technique


Truth be told the more you paint something, the better you get at it. Painting these small paintings allowed me to experiment with techniques such as wet in wet, layering, and using value and contrast to build depth. I noticed that the more I painted landscapes and trees, the better and more comfortable with painting those subjects I became.


Improved Brushwork


I am a realist and normally paint on much larger pieces of paper. Painting small, on a 3"x3" square, kept me from getting too detailed with my brushstrokes and forced me to paint more loosely and intuitively, while still depicting the subject being painted. For someone who is very detailed oriented this was liberating and educational. I learned that I don't have to paint in a realist style. That's not to say I won't continue down that path, but I will look for opportunities to paint more loosely.



Getting Familiar with Pigments


I used the project to experiment with using limited palettes of color. A limited palette is a palette of only 3-5 pigments. You use those selected pigments (instead of buying all the colors) to mix colors. This is helping me to narrow down my own palette to some favorite colors to use in my larger work. I hope to write about the benefits of using a limited palette in an upcoming blog post later this year.


Building a Collection of Artwork


It was always a goal with the 100-Day project that I would build a body of work that I could list for sale on my website. The paintings are significantly smaller that most of my work so that meant I could sell these at lower price point than my larger originals. I launched the collection on my shop right around Thanksgiving with a goal of selling 10 of the paintings. I sold 7 in a 4-week period. I am pretty happy about that! By the way, there are still some available. Find your favorite by clicking below.




collection of miniature watercolor paintings of cherry tomatoes garlic carrots and green onions by artist sheryl brake

Valuable Lessons for a Positive Result

Participating in the 100-Day project challenged me in a lot of ways, but I also learned a lot. Below are a few of the key take aways for me.


Allow for Ample Time


I am not good at estimating the amount of time a project takes. In fact, I am horrible at it. If you are not fast or have a lot going on just know that participating in the 100-Day project will take a lot more time than you think, especially if you plan on photographing, editing and listing all products on your website. I learned quickly, the value of batch photography and talk about that here.


Learn About Yourself as an Artist


I wasn't really a fan of landscape painting when I first started this project, but I found that landscapes were perfect for this small format. As the projected neared completion, I found myself wanting to explore more and more landscapes.


While I am a realist painter at heart (more on this in this post), I discovered that I could loosen up my painting style and still enjoy the process. If you work at it, whatever your style, you can get better.


Avoid Comparisons


It is so easy, especially in today's age of social media, to compare yourself to others. Because the 100-Day project is "movement" that begins mid-February (read more about that here) there is a lot of excitement about it when it starts. Those participating post about their experience using hashtag #the100dayproject. It's easy to get sucked into following what others are doing and start to compare yourself and your progress to others. Don't do it. I learned to stop comparing my progress (which was slowand different from others) and just plug away. We all have our own journey and it's important to honor that.


What's Next for Me


While the 100-day project took well over 100 days, there was tremendous satisfaction in proving to myself that I could see this (or any other) project through to the end. I don't plan on participating in the 100-Day Project in 2024, but if I do participate again in the future here are my notes to myself:


  • be sure to allow for enough time for the project,

  • consider doing a smaller number of paintings - for example, limit the project to 100 days and painting fewer paintings,

  • if doing 100, maybe chose the best 30 paintings to list for sale, instead of the whole lot,

  • consider hiring someone to do the product photography and listing on your website, and

  • remember it always give yourself grace - remember this was key to my success in completing my first 100-Day project.


With the 2023 100-Day project behind me, I am looking forward to the year ahead. Some of the things in store for 2024 include:


  • working on my Neon Colorado and Cabled History series (more on these in upcoming posts),

  • getting back to painting larger work - I love working large,

  • entering local art shows, and

  • finding a local gallery or places to show my work.


As for the remaining 93 miniature paintings from the 100-Day project,


  • with the few frames I have left from that project, I plan on choosing my favorites, framing them and finding a local shop/gallery to sell them,

  • a few are my favorites, so I may keep some for myself,

  • I have even considered a few pieces for potential products - tea towels, coffee mugs, throw pillows (though I am not sure I want to go this route). I think Pine Cone would look great on a throw pillow or coffee mug, don't you?

  • As for the rest - we shall see.



 

Have you ever attempted or completed a 100-day project? Let me know. Why not try one out yourself? By the way, you can choose just about anything for a 100-day project.


You could choose to draw in a sketchbook for 100 days or draw 100 figures, but it doesn't have to be art related. You could write down 100 things you are grateful for. Maybe donate 100 items from your home that you no longer use or bring you joy (someone else might enjoy them) or commit to walking 100 days. It's entirely up to you.


If you have participated in your own 100-day project, let me know in the comments below. What did you learn? Did you enjoy it? I would love to know about your experience.






If you have been following along on this journey with me. Thanks for being here! I am grateful to you and for being able to share my art with you.


With love and gratitude,

Sheryl


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