The 100 Day Project finally ended this last week. Did I end my art project with a whimper or a bang? And what did I learn?
What is this 100 days thing?
The 100 Day Project is a self-driven opportunity to explore your own creativity. It’s free and there are participants from all over the world. It takes place every year over 100 days from April to July.
This year there was also a Facebook group, though participation there was…well. I didn’t take part much, but I know the project moderators tried to make it engaging. There was also a podcast!
So what was my art project and why did I choose that for 100 days?
Long Beach is eclectic. We have random street art. Our bicycle racks are sometimes shaped like coffee cups. Or dragonflies.
We have peacocks. Real ones too, not just this one up on a wall.
Murals abound. I wanted to capture them all (which I’m sure I did not).
There was more than enough to fill many 100 day projects!
How successful was this project?
Well, how are we measuring success?
Did I create 100 posts? No.
Did I enjoy the process? No.
Is that a bad thing? No.
Did I find new areas to explore? Yes!
Did I learn anything about myself during these 100 days? Yes.
Did it change me? Do I feel more like “an artist” now? Yes. And no.
Would I do it again? Yes, probably.
Allow me to explain.
Why I didn’t make the full 100 posts
Well, I did make it to the end, I just missed some steps along the way. I knew from the beginning that I would be kind to myself and try not to feel bad about skipping a day here or there.
It was a good thing that I was in this mindset.
You might remember that my dad had a heart attack right after my birthday. So for the rest of May, my posts were sporadic. Life continued to happen. I just couldn’t capture it for a while.
Why I didn’t enjoy the process
Eventually, this started to feel like a chore. I wish I could say it was something I got up and looked forward to doing every day.
At first, that was the case. But then my foot tendinitis started acting up, making the “exploring” part difficult. That’s okay, I could still drive places. But then I was trying to force visits around the city into my day instead of feeling spontaneous about it.
Why it’s okay that I didn’t enjoy it
It’s fine for art, in any medium and any form, to make you uncomfortable. We don’t grow as humans without discomfort.
Learning to walk wasn’t easy, but we got up every time we fell down as toddlers and tried again. I didn’t wake up one day suddenly able to deadlift 255 pounds. It took 5 years of really hard work.
I had to push myself.
And that’s not always fun. But the results of pushing through the hard parts make it worth doing.
And that was the first lesson.
Lesson #1 from The 100 Day Project
Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. The end felt like it was a long way off. But there’s no way to speed up time.
You have to literally take it one day at a time. Unless you’re a time traveler, there’s no possible way to rush through living 100 days without actually living 100 days.
Just like a marathon. One foot in front of the other, steady pace.
Lesson #2 from The 100 Day Project
Surprising things can happen. For the last few year, I’ve almost exclusively used my iPhone for taking pictures. For this art project that’s all I needed. But for blogging, I went back to my roots.
My Canon 7D has been sitting unused in a bag for a really long time. But I took it out and started shooting with it more often. And now I’m actually considering lugging it to Puerto Rico with me next month.
There was once a time when that would have felt hugely inconvenient. I haven’t traveled with a large DSLR camera in…I can’t remember how long. But the photography bug bit me again. It feels like an old part of me has reawakened.
I credit the project with this.
View this post on Instagram
This @canonusa 7D with a kit lens is all I have left since the rest of my camera equipment was stolen some 3-4 years ago now. Got to use it again today for the first time in years. Felt that old familiar itch. Like something dormant was finally waking up… . #photographersofinstagram #photostorybyme #myformerlife #canon7d
Lesson 3 from The 100 Day Project
The prize is in the work.
There were no awards given for participating in this project. No one won first place. You weren’t rewarded if you never missed a day. The payoff was in sticking with it through the end. Looking back on the body of work you’ve created and being able to say, I did that.
Or, I did that?
Or better still: I did that!
Yeah, you did. I did. It’s pretty rad.
Looking back on it, I can’t wait to do it again!
I have no idea what I’ll do next time. I don’t even know if I’ll have finished exploring Long Beach by next spring.
But I’m looking forward to what I’ll create next time.
If you want to see my full gallery of posts, I’ve saved them in my Instagram Stories.