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Turning Failure into Growth: What I Learned from My #the100daysproject attempts

The #the100daysproject 2024 starts tomorrow. I've started and failed this project almost every time I've tried since my first attempt in 2020. Each time I learn something so I keep trying again and again. This year, even though my time for art making is greatly reduced because I'm spending 99% of my time with my baby, I'm taking on the endeavor again. Is this folly? Perhaps. Will I grow as an artist regardless? Most definitely.

For those who aren't familiar with the movement, #the100daysproject is a simple free online challenge to create something, anything for 100 days. Fun and simple. I enjoy seeing what others have created, and feel encouraged by the global community. There is also a paid newsletter with encouraging daily prompts that I am seriously considering signing up for this year.

#The100DayProject is a free, global art project that takes place online. Every year, thousands of people all around the world commit to 100 days of creating. Anyone can participate (yes, that means you!). ​ The idea is simple: choose a creative project, do it every single day for 100 days, and share your process on your social accounts using the hashtag #The100DayProject. -

a collection of small boxes collaged with handmade paper
Attempt 1 approximately 14 days

Attempt 1- Collaged Boxes for Utopia

What I learned from #the100daysproject: I can't fake or rush the magic

This project was inspired by collaged boxes I had made at an art and movement retreat with Turning the Wheel. The original boxes were infused with spirit, and had a richness and depth both in aesthetic and in their meaning. Each box was inspired by a day meditating, visioning, discussing, dancing, playing, and manifesting in the "Imaginal World." The immersion of the retreat bled into the art crafting which created a fertile for beauty.

That was in 2018. Two years later I wanted to recapture some of the magic from the retreat and begin dreaming better futures again. I thought with the briefest moment of meditation I could drop into that same creative cauldron. I could not. I know it is possible to achieve a similar level of depth alone in my studio, but for this attempt I gave myself neither the space nor the time to achieve my goals. The boxes I created paled in comparison to the original inspiration. They felt junky and cluttered rather than rich and inspirational. Feeling uninspired, I missed a day. This hiccup, having lost the momentum, lead to another missed day, and then another. And then I never returned to the project.

Despite giving up after two quicks weeks the seeds of this experiment are still floating around in my mind. I'm still charmed by the idea of collaging "building blocks" for better futures. I think crafting and creating with the "Imaginal World" in mind is still a useful ground for creation. And I learned that if I want to make art that is rich with meaning I need to give myself the time to drop into the flow before jumping in and trying to pull it from thin air.

page of sketchbook with watercolor amethyst, jasper, tigers eye, pyrite, diamond, emerald, bloodstone, and smoky quartz
Attempt 2- 100 paintings over 200 days

Attempt 2- Watercolor Crystal Paintings

What I learned from #the100daysproject: The timeline is allowed to change

Having learned a lot from the first attempt I went into my second attempt filled with verve. I had just finished an online course on painting watercolor crystals after a year of writing crystal themed zines. To set myself up for success I made 100 "boxes" in my watercolor paper journal, that way I wouldn't have to keep track of days. Once the boxes were filled I knew the project would be complete.

Almost immediately I got off track. Each painting took much longer to complete than I originally anticpated. These paintings were deeply satisfying and relaxing to paint, but I couldn't find the time every day to sit down with project. Unlike the first time I returned to the project when I could, some days painting a few extra crystals to catch.

In the end, it took me just over 200 days to complete all the paintings. Some of the watercolor crystals are amazing. Others are not so good. But I learned that sticking with it and finishing feels a lot better than giving up after one missed day. Sticking with the project made me a lot better at watercolor and it lead to some wonderful opportunities including a tattoo commission, a sticker club on Patreon, and collection of art. You can see more of the art from this attempt in my blog post from that year.

Collaged altoid tins with mini wands above purple labyrinths painted on paper.
Attempt 3- 100 Labyrinths in 100 days but they are all different!

Attempt 3- 100 Labyrinths

What I learned from #the100daysproject: Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!

In 2022 I was eager to embark on #the100daysproject again. Despite taking twice as long to finish as was planned I learned a lot in 2020. I was ready for another round and to do it even better than before. I had a watercolor notebook that had been sitting around gathering dust for years and I came up with the idea to paint 100 mini labyrinths inside of it. Unlike the watercolor crystals, which held my attention over the whole 200 days and still captivates me to this day, I was almost immediately disenchanted with the mini labyrinths.

Day 10 of #100minilabyrinths. I got bored. The watercolor labyrinths didn’t capture me after the first week, so after some brainstorm I switched gears to play with my new #guachepaint and my old beloved #gelliprints instead. What do you think of this pivot? I really like the juxtaposition. #100dayproject #the100dayproject #100dayproject2022 #labyrinthart

Learning from my mistakes I made a bold move to switch things up. Suddenly the project was alive for me again. In the end I made 10 watercolor labyrinths in my notebook, about 50 gouache labyrinths, 6 altoid tin labyrinths, around 35 sketchbook labyrinths, and one walking labyrinth in my yard. It came in all shapes and sizes, and some days I painted dozens and others days I painted nothing but in the end I finished the 100 labyrinths in 100 days! I was so proud of myself for completing the project by May 31st even if in the end it looked wildly different than my original vision. Editing is important, and I learned the value of pivoting.

pink and purple watercolor painting in sketchbook with quote "Taking up the brush just for the joy of it, writing on and on, leaving behind long lines of dancing letters"- tagaki rengetsu
Attempt 4- too tired to paint

Attempt 4- Watercolor Mood Experiments

What I learned from #the100daysproject- All things have their season

Some might say my most recent attempt, last year, was my biggest failure by far. Some might see it as a massive two steps back after all the growth I made in 2021 and 2022, but I didn't beat myself up about it because I was going through a life-changing portal.

When I started #the100daysproject in 2023 I was four months pregnant with my first child. I wasn't making much of anything other than my baby. All my creative spark felt turned inward on this mysterious being growing inside of me. I made almost no art while I was pregnant. I felt really sick for a lot of my pregnancy. Nausea and fatigue were a constant apart from a few short blessed weeks in my second trimester. I thought documenting my pregnancy in watercolor moods might be fun. But after a few short days I simply couldn't muster the energy to follow the inspiration. I didn't fuss about the failure. I simply settled into the reality that motherhood was a different season and my creative practice would forever reflect that difference. So although I "failed" #the100daysproject after five days, I felt like I was truly succeeding at life, living out a life dream of having a baby.

digital collage with found word poem
Attempt 5- stay tuned for more

Another Year, Another Attempt!

Weaving all i've learned the past four years I'm gonna take on the challenge again starting tomorrow. It may be completely unattainable with a baby but I want to make a digital gratitude EVERY DAY for 100 days. I don’t make it into my studio as much as a used to because of time spent cuddled up with my baby. In idle moments when I can sneak some screen time (we are trying to keep Arlo screen free for at least the first year) I’ve been dabbling with painting and collaging with some apps on my phone. For the image above I used Sketches to create the background, playing with watercolor and airbrush brushes. And for the poem I used Freeform, a free app on IPhone. I found the words through Pinterest. There are lots of free collections of collage images and words on Pinterest.

The 100 days project is about to start again (tomorrow!!) and I’m going make a small gratitude poem with these digital tools each day. I’ve failed the 100 days project so many times but I’m excited to try and possibly fail again.

I’m excited to try and possibly fail again.

Stay tuned!

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