I impulsively committed to a creative project challenge in late February without knowing exactly what I would do for my creative output.
The challenge was to create every single day in a row for one hundred days.
I initially chose a theme of spirals which I tired of about a month into the challenge. On Day 51 I switched to a more general theme of “inner/outer landscape.” That worked well and I felt a new creative freedom.
I used a variety of media – nature objects for outdoor sculptures, multimedia collage, watercolor. I also used nature photographs that I’ve taken and printed out: for collage, mandalas, and as inspiration for paintings. My daily time commitment ranged from five to forty-five minutes, but I usually spent just ten to fifteen minutes a day creating my little pieces. (My current book project, TEALarbor stories, and other professional commitments are my primary occupations and are also very time costly.)
None of my mini creative projects felt complete, so I began calling them “drafts” –in-progress pieces that I can finish later or combine with other little pieces to create a complete something.
I have never been formally and extensively trained in anything “art-y.” I have taken some one-off classes over the years but more out of a need for visual self-expression or for the good company of other creatives than to learn new techniques. When I call myself a “dabbler in creativity” I don't do so out of humility, I do so because that is truly how I see myself … dipping my brush into this or that, trying things until I tire of the clumsy effort, reaching broadly with a variety of materials, but mostly reaching deeply within to see what my inner landscape offers me in that moment.
Some of my closest family members have balked when I call myself a “dabbler” – particularly when they first saw it appear in my professional bios, published on the backs of my books, and even in my casual writing. They remember when I was two and fingerpainted, when I was three and held my first crayon, when I was five and held a fat marker, when I was eight and held a slimmer colored pen. They recognize me now as a writer and published author. Over decades, they have watched me being creative.
I know I’m nitpickingly parsing words here, but I feel as if I’m a creative, not an artist.
I have worked professionally with many artists and fine craftspeople over the years, an extension of my lifelong love and pursuit of the creations of “makers.” Most of these wondrous individuals have been formally trained and do their art and craft as their primary occupation. I have such deep respect – bordering on sacred reverence – for these people. When I pick up a brush or collage materials, I know that I am just playing and that my livelihood is not inherent in that act.
During this springtime hundred days from February to late May 2021, I:
…reveled in the act of showing up to the practice.
…drew little sketches of birds, trees, leaves, and flowers that I never considered part of the hundred-day challenge, never posted online, never counted in my tally of one hundred.
…posted things online (one of the accountability requests of the challenge) that I wouldn’t otherwise share.
…hid some of my clumsiest pieces and made extra creative works to cover that day’s commitment to post.
…learned some things about my process, my outcome, my shortcomings, my strivings, my strengths.
But best of all, I have continued creating since the challenge ended and I have an overflowing well of ideas for more projects.
The day after I completed my hundredth creative draft, I tore apart my art shelves and spent the next twenty-four hours organizing all of my creative supplies, cleaning up my workspace, and starting fresh on some new projects.
I would do the challenge again (though not soon). But I would do it differently.
What will you do over the course of one hundred consecutive days?