As of today I have been drawing every day for a year. It sounds like a dramatic cliche to say that this project has changed my life, but I can say that lots of new things started happening once I made the commitment to drawing every day. It is definitely a commitment to working hard, slogging through days that I didn't feel like doing it, days when it wasn't working. But the magical thing about a daily habit is that sometimes, that thing you do every day, that thing that can feel like a chore can suddenly become incredible when I look down at the page and see something I'm proud of. And I am incredibly proud of this project as a whole and all that it has brought to my life.
If you are planning on starting a daily project in 2016 (or anytime) I hope this convinces you. And if you are just interested in my thoughts on this project, then read on.
1. I improved my skills. I think it is pretty well-established that practicing something every day is a good way to get better at it and I can definitely say that this happened for me - I still have a long way to go and a lot of skills to develop, but my drawing skills have improved so much in the past year.
2. I started to find my style. This started to happen in the last few months of this challenge. I am starting to make work that I like more often than not and I'm starting to see a style that seems to be cropping up over and over in my work. I think this is a combination of what I like and what just comes out when I start drawing, completely out of my control. There are definitely styles I wish I could emulate, but I'm working on embracing my own. I think my style at this point is marked by simple line drawing, bright colors, watercolor, and lots of abstract patterns.
3. I tried new things. Drawing the same things in the same style every day can be incredibly boring, so mixing it up is essential. For my first month of drawing I only drew in black pen, but over the next 11 months I added in handlettering, watercolor, alcohol markers, and different backgrounds. I didn't love everything that I tried, but I found some things that I love and stopped from getting (as) bored.
4. I made ugly stuff and shared it with the internet. It is pretty much a given that with drawing every day, some pieces aren't going to be the best. Sometimes my artwork was ugly but I wasn't able to keep redoing drawings all day and sometimes drawings were just okay, but not my favorite. I put those up on the internet anyway. I'm not sure what the lesson is there, but I think it is that the world didn't end just because I posted something ugly, or poorly lit (lots of late night drawings make for lots of crappy photos). No one said mean things, I didn't loose all of my followers (that's not why I do this anyway), nothing catastrophic happened, there was just something that I didn't love on my Instagram feed for a little while.
5. I developed a creative habit. As I mentioned before, sometimes what I make is ugly. Sometimes I wasn't able to put in 100% effort (this is okay, I can't put in hours of work to make a masterpiece every single day) and sometimes I was really trying but it wasn't working like I wanted it to. But sometimes "forcing it" worked out and I liked what I made even though I wasn't feeling inspired. Sometimes forcing it was rough and I hated what I was drawing and I hated everything and I hated myself for making this stupid commitment to doing it every day. But doing something, anything, every day made it that much easier to keep going the next day. It made drawing part of my everyday routine and changed my mindset. Now, I think about drawing and making art a lot. I am constantly looking at the shapes of things and at color palettes. Drawing has become part of my life.
6. I made more than I ever have. Before this habit I kept a regular art journal. I wasn't prolific, but art was definitely a part of my life. Now, I have tons of drawings hanging around. I have filled several sketchbooks. This means that I've had to come up with more ideas than ever before. I'm stretching creatively. It also means that I have lots and lots of work to look back on that can reinspire me when I don't know what I'm doing.
7. I became more comfortable putting my art out there. This was probably the scariest thing about this project and the biggest thing that has changed over the course of the year. I have always been a creative person, but not an "artistic" person (I am someone who took an art history class to get out of a visual art requirement in high school (art history was great and I'm glad I took it, but you get the point about how I saw myself)). In January 2015 I was terrified to tell people that I was interested in art, that I was making art, or to share my work. I have no idea why, the people that I know are nice and supportive, I promise. I guess I thought that they would laugh at me or think it was too late to start - that if I hadn't been an artist since I was a kid then there was no point in starting now. But I shared my first drawing and I kept doing it and now the people that knew me before are following my project enthusiastically and I have connected with even more people who are interested in art and appreciate this project as well.
Thank you so much for your support this year! I plan on keeping up with this daily habit in 2016 and rolling out an even bigger creative project as well. If you want to be the first to know about that sign up for my email list: http://eepurl.com/bF_tUj
I'm wishing you a happy New Year!