Taking on the 100 Painting Challenge was an eye-opening experience.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make 100 paintings in three days. I don’t consider myself to be a fast painter so I figured I would have to paint for twelve hours a day to get through this.
I have been wanting to do this challenge for awhile and ideas for how to create a cohesive colour scheme and get my subject matter into the pieces have been rolling around in my head for months. So, I finally cleared my studio calendar and took the time to create these pieces.
My plan of attack was to have an overall colour palette where one colour would change each day. I also had a set of four stencils and two linocuts to easily add my subject matter.
Setting these boundaries for myself in advanced really helped with decision making, so that I wasn’t approaching the paper with an infinite number of possibilities.
The other thing I did to help speed things up, and reduce the possibility of drawing a blank was I worked on A3 paper- first panting in the backgrounds, then, with each successive layer I added, I also cut the paper down to A4 and then A5. This helped the body of paintings be relatively cohesive as a whole because, there would be four paintings that would share the same background, but then with each successive layer they would become differentiated, making each painting a unique work of art.
Finding Creative Flow
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this challenge was the opportunity to explore creativity, making a bunch of paintings in quick succession. With a limited number of designs, stencils, and colours at my disposal, I had to constantly innovate and improvise. It kept me on my toes, forcing me to think outside the box and come up with fresh ideas for each new piece.
The Art of Making Quick Decisions
The challenge was not just about quantity but also about the quality of each painting. As I worked through the paintings, it felt like solving a puzzle. Each additional layer, and each colour choice became a critical decision. I learned to make quick, instinctive choices about what each painting needed in that very moment.
This rapid decision-making process was like an intensive training session for my artistic intuition. It taught me to recognise when a painting wasn't going in the right direction and how to make the necessary adjustments swiftly.
One of the most valuable lessons I took away from the challenge was the importance of imperfection in art. With a time constraint and the need to create so many pieces, I had to accept that not every painting would be a masterpiece. Some were experiments, some were happy accidents, and others were works in progress. And that was perfectly okay. The challenge taught me to be unafraid of leaving a painting alone when it didn't need anything more.
Sometimes, restraint can be the most powerful tool in an artist's arsenal.
While I expected the challenge to be demanding, a few unexpected obstacles cropped up along the way. The stencils I used became caked with spray paint, making them gummy and sticky, so I would have to stop and take a break to let them dry, meaning that I couldn’t work as fast as I wanted to, and forcing me to work across a broader range of pieces to allow for each painting to dry, ready for the next layer.
The Bigger Picture
Ultimately, the 100 Painting Challenge was an exercise in being present, in embracing the process, and in creating without overthinking.
It was about producing work, sometimes imperfect, and sifting through it later to discover what was successful. And really, isn’t that just a microcosm of an artists life? Make as much work as you can, some of it will be good and some of it will be bad, but if you’re too afraid to create in the first place, then you’ll never get to see all the good art.
I could easily see myself taking on this challenge again next year, armed with a new set of stencils and a year's worth of artistic growth to bring to the project. It's a fantastic way to gauge how my artwork and skills evolve over time.
If you're an artist looking to break free from the constraints of slow-paced creation, this challenge might just be what you need. It's a journey in creativity, a lesson in decisiveness, and a celebration of imperfection—all rolled into one exhilarating experience.
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