I'm failing at #The100DayProject and it's ok by me


Let me just preface this by saying that I think The 100 Day Project is wonderful. Creativity is definitely a muscle that needs to be worked. If you don't use it, you loose it. And committing to anything for an extended amount of time (especially beyond 30 days) creates habits. I didn't floss regularly for years- and then all of a sudden i just did it everyday. Now it's been 5 years and i can count on my hands the number of days i've missed flossing. (Enough about my dental hygiene- back to art.) One day I will do something like #The100DayProject and be "successful." This time around I failed pretty quick and I'm ok with that. It didn't make me a failure. It taught me about the valley (stick with me).

I began #The100DayProject by picking something that i wanted to improve on- warming up by doing a little drawing or painting before diving into working on a project. My intentions were good- I was excited and then I was sick one day and super busy the next- so I stockpiled a few warmups to show on instagram. And then it happened. I went into the valley. The creative black hole. The art void.

Sounds pretty dark and gloomy doesn't it? It can be and it definitely has been in the past. For me, the valley appears after having a few weeks of intense creative highs. New work, new success, crazy productivity! Wheeeeeee! But up ahead is the valley. When I see it coming I can prepare and am usually only in it for 2-3 days. If I don't see it- i find myself a bit caught off guard and that can add some extra time of wondering what the heck is going on.

So what happens in the valley? The bad: self doubt, ugly inner critic, jealousy, basically all that nasty stuff that derails creativity and overall happiness. The good: reflection, brainstorming, rest. The key is recognizing and embracing it. Using it for good can take many forms:
-Taking long walks and just thinking
-Reading magazines and books
-Listening to podcasts (The Accidental Creative is wonderful for the valley)
-Doing busy work or organization in your studio
-Playing with or learning a new medium
-Writing blog posts about the valley ;)
-Making lists. Lists of cute animals (otters!), lists of dream clients (Hygee & West!), lists of funny sounding body parts (medulla oblongata!). You get the picture.

This year it's been all about learning about myself as an artist- what I like most, what i'm best at, where I want to be in 5 years, etc. Learning about the valley, being able to see it coming a mile away, and using it for good has allowed those peak creativity-productivity times reach even new heights.

But what really brings on the valley? Does it line up with lunar cycles? Does it show up faster after eating ice cream? Will it always be there after meeting a big deadline? I think it's different for everyone and it can change without warning. Sometimes after a big project I am rip roaring and ready to go for the next one; sometimes I need to rest in the valley for a few days. Meditating and starting a (mostly) daily yoga routine (check out Yoga with Adriene) has really helped me tune into knowing when the valley is calling. And now that I know there is good work to be done there (see list above)- I'm totally down with hanging out in the valley. Plus- have you google-imaged "valley"? Yeah- it's pretty awesome. Even the dark and scary ones make me feel like "dude- if I went through that valley- i'd come out the other side pretty darn bad-ass!" (And probably feeling like i could take on anything- cue creativity-productivity!)

So that's that. This time around my version of #The100DayProject might take more like 132 days- and if that's "failing"- then that's ok with me. Oh, and if you ever find yourself in a valley and need a fellow creative/friend to show you around- feel free to give me a shout!


Dana said...

Wonderful approach for such a nasty moment. From now on I will never see the artistic bloc in the same way :-) your art is exquisite, I also love watercolor and I am so inspired by your way with this technique!
Dana ( danadesignillustration.com)

Evie said...

So relatable! I love the way you've expressed this as being in a valley. I feel like I've been unable to get out of the valley for some time. Strangely enough I decided to do The 100 Day Project to help me with this and it's been good in that it's made me share and do something creative every day. I don't always feel good about what I've created but it does feel good in some way to know that I have acted on my creative practice each day.. All the best with your project. Your work is wonderful. I especially love your characters in your sketchbook images on your website. Love your MATS poster too - congrats on the win!! : )

KV said...

thanks for the kind words Dana and Evie!

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