Ten things I learned from The 100 Day Project

Ten things I learned from The 100 Day Project

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Several months ago, I participated in The 100 Day Project (and make sure you read all the way to the bottom of this article for an incredible update on what ended up happening because of it). I’d heard about The 100 Day Project from a fellow artist during a co-working session, and it was about to start a week or so later. Several of the artists in the co-working group were going to participate, and I was intrigued. I’d never heard of it before, but I’d done projects like Inktober and Colori Combo, where you used a month of prompts or themes to create art which you then posted on social media. The 100 Day Project seemed different, it wasn’t purely based around art making (you can find out more information here), you can do crafts or art or dance or music or writing or any other kind of project. Obviously 100 days is far longer than the month I’d managed to do up until that point. I found a month to either be just perfect or slightly too long, so I really wasn’t sure how I would go with the project.


Of course, I had to think of a project to do. I wanted to test my physical limitations with painting (as up until that point I’d worked predominantly digitally due to a permanent upper body injury). I was wanting to explore acryla-gouache more, it was a neat medium I’d just started to play with, so I thought I could use the 100 Day Project as a reason to explore and play every day.


But what to paint? I have always been interested in painting and drawing botanicals, so much of my art and designs are botanical-based. Recently I’d been into the bookstore of the Royal BC Museum (which handily is across the street from me), and they had a new book they’d published called “Saanich Ethnobotany: Culturally Important Plants of the WSANEC People” (Saanich is a region in Victoria, British Columbia). It was using all local plants and sea plants, and talking about where they’re found as well as what the local Saanich indigenous people used them for. It looked like it’d be an interesting way for me to learn about the local plant life as well as how they were all used, so I chose that book as the basis for my project. Each day I would randomly flip the book open, learn about the plant on that page, and then find some reference images of it and do a small painting of it. I also decided to mix up the paper I was using, I used some art paper, and also cut up some old forestry and moss flora reports and maps I got during a book sale at the museum. Similarly with how I’d choose the plants, each day I would choose a different type of paper, and it was mainly random as to which paper I used for which paintings (but that changed over time, I’ll talk about that below in the things I learned).


Pacific Northest Botanicals fabric


Ten things I learned during the project


1. What will it be?

You don’t have to know what the “thing” will be at the end of the project, like what you’ll use all your daily makings/musings/etc for. I certainly had no idea what I was going to do with 100 small paintings when I started, that wasn’t important to me at the time and wasn’t the reason why I was doing it. I was doing the project to create the work, to experiment with the media and paper, and learn. That was it, the finished project as a whole remained a mystery until it was over.


2. Play & explore

Let yourself play and bend and flex as you work through the project — I started off working with quite thick dense gouache, and not using any ink pen linework (or not much). By the end of the project I was using the gouache more as watercolour so it was quite “airy” and loose, and I was playing with my dip ink pens in a different way. Throughout the project I’d learned which papers were best for which types of paintings, and I’d also done extensive experimentation with a variety of ink pens and dip ink pens and nibs. I even did a little chart mapping out all my dip pen nibs and ink pens, so I could have a reference of which made what quality of line. In that way I could choose my tool based on the effect I was going for that day — without spending so much time playing, I never would have learned that.


3. Anticipate bad days

Expect that you will have hard days, days where nothing seems to be working, the work isn’t “good,” or days where you simply don’t have much (or any) time to dedicate to your daily work.  It’s your project, you can do with it what you will, just be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up. We do that well enough every day, we don’t need to do it during a creative project as well.

4. Have a “bad day” plan

You can more easily cope with and get past bad or busy days by having a plan. Maybe it’s doing a really simple topic that day (like I remember painting American Dunegrass on a day when I was in a lot of pain from a chronic pain flare — it was a really simple plant that only took me a few minutes to paint). Or maybe you need to be ok with pausing for a day or two (or longer) if say a family vacation lands in the middle of your project, or you get sick. As long as your plan includes not beating yourself up for being human, then whatever you decide is perfect.


5. Take notes

Taking notes of your daily activity may be super helpful. A day or two into the project, I realized it would be very useful to record what plant was which day, what paper I’d used for each one, and any other notes I had. I’d record how I was feeling that day, what I learned about that plant, and how that particular painting worked out. I have pages and pages of notes now about not being sure whether I was using the paints “right,” or struggling with adding ink pen linework. I also added a column later about whether I’d posted that day’s work on social media or not yet, that helped me track what I’d posted and what I hadn’t. And PS, a spreadsheet to keep all that information sorted out might work well for you (or not, you do you).


6. Social media isn’t mandatory

Speaking of posting on social media, that’s not mandatory at all (unless you’ve designed it as part of your work, like posting a short video daily on Instagram). I fell into a routine of posting the paintings in groups of six, it made for an almost-square image with my little 3″ x 4″ pieces of art. And that way I didn’t feel like I *had* to post every day, and I didn’t want to burn my followers out on only seeing little plant paintings for a few months. It’s all up to you, whether you want to share, and how much to share. I would gently suggest to not just share the “good” work though, people love seeing others being human and not a machine. Posting work you’re not super thrilled with helps you get over being self-conscious, and you’ll quickly realize no one else sees the “bad” work the same way as you (they probably think it all looks great). Learning to not be so hard on ourselves is a very valuable skill. ❤️


7. Choose a project you will enjoy

It’s easier if you choose a project that you actually WANT to do, not one you think you “should” do, like say a book project that’s been lurking in the back of your brain for years. It seems obvious to say to choose something you’ll like, but as stated above, you will have bad days, and you will have times when you just want to throw in the towel entirely. If it’s a project you’re generally enjoying, you’re more likely to keep going, and just let yourself feel crappy or whatever in that moment (but still do the work anyway).




8. Choose a broad(ish) topic

Pick a topic that’s broad enough for you to explore for 100 days (but not so broad you get overwhelmed or lost). Like before I started my project, I counted all the plants that were discussed in my book to make sure there were at least 100. There were about 140, so I knew I had some flexibility if for some reason I didn’t want to (or didn’t have time that day) to paint a particular plant. But there weren’t so many choices that I could easily get lost. So make sure to give yourself a few guardrails so you don’t get overwhelmed partway through. But if you find yourself gravitating to a related topic as you work through your project, decide if you want to follow that path or stick to what you originally decided — only you can decide if you’re distracting yourself or delving deeper into a topic you want to explore. You can also choose a very narrow topic, that makes your daily task easier, but it also increases the risk you may get bored during the project.


9. A little work goes a long way

You’ll be amazed at how much work you can create over time, even with just a few minutes a day. I’d say on average most of the paintings I did were 15-25 minutes, but some were only five minutes and some were an hour, because I was enjoying the process. Every day I’d put the painting when dry into a little box with the rest, and it was incredible seeing them all together at the end… 😍


10. Have fun!

The entire point of the project is to explore and grow and build consistency, but you can’t do that if it’s not fun. It’s ok to have a few bad days, but if you’re hating every day for weeks, then maybe you need to redesign your project to bring the joy back into it, or stop it entirely. Don’t “should” all over yourself. 😊




So what happened with my project, did I “do” anything with it? It took a while to think of how I wanted to use the paintings, but as you can see by the images throughout this post I’ve now turned them all into several repeat patterns for fabric, wallpaper, and home decor on Spoonflower, as well as into an art print called Pacific Northwest Botanicals. I may also make them into a book one day, I do still have all those daily notes I took. I’m sure other artists and creatives could relate to the daily struggles and wins that come with being creative. But we’ll see, I’m not making any decisions yet. 😊

How about you, have you ever done a big project like this, or would you consider it?


Incredible update

I was so delighted to see that my art print was included by the Prince’s Trust of Canada in a birthday gift box for His Majesty King Charles III. WOW. Absolutely amazing, I’m so honoured. You can read more about my previous involvement with the Prince’s Trust here, and how that art print likely got on their radar. So I guess you just never know where your art or creative projects may end up. 😍😍❤️


5 Responses

  1. […] And here’s a link to a ‘blog post that Dana wrote about the whole experience of doing the 100 Day Project: https://peacockandfig.com/2023/08/ten-things-i-learned-from-the-100-day-project. […]

  2. Nina
    | Reply

    Love this Dana! A beautiful project with beautiful results—Congrats! And thanks for the tips—they are super helpful and inspiring.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Thanks so much Nina, and so glad you found the post helpful! 😊

  3. Paula
    | Reply

    I did the 100 day challenge also using Zentangle items. Luckily the 100 was running at the same time as several other Zentangle challenges so I was able to use their prompts. Yes, there are days you can’t do it, you can make it up and do 2 the next day or plan ahead. Life is life, and sometimes you can’t do everything you plan to do that day. I tried to post on Instagram daily for it was showing I was committed to the project. If it was just to myself, I would fall off the wagon. I will keep this on my radar for the next year. Another item to look at is the index card challenge for June and July, to only use index cards as your paper medium. https://daisyyellowart.com/icad-base
    I’m taking August and September off from Zentangle, to be ready for InkTober. Currently doing cross-stitch Halloween items for a moment and getting supplies in.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Have fun with Inktober Paula! I’m not sure if I’ll do it or not, I’m having a lot of fun with oils recently, and doing an oil painting a day (even a small one) would be a lot… 😊

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