Today is officially the last day of the 100 Day Project, so I thought I would do a final check in. My project, 100 Days of Watercolor Without Reference started with a challenge from Elle Luna, a newly purchased set of 60 watercolor tubes, and me frantically searching for an idea. During the 100 days, I quit my job, visited my home state, packed up my apartment, road tripped across the country, and landed on the opposite coast.
I've been painting through it all, and this project definitely did not turn out like I thought it would. Looking back on the goals that I had for this project, here is how they turned out:
1. Stop being lazy about watercolor. I think I managed this. I learned that I can arrive at a hotel room in Tulsa, Oklahoma at midnight after many hours of driving and manage to put a paintbrush to paper, so getting out my watercolors at home doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. I definitely can get a little bit lazy about cleaning my palette, so I tend to use the same colors again and again for several days, but I think that helps me to expand on my original idea and come up with new combinations. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.
2. Explore painting without references. I think that this was kind of a fail. Or at least, not what I got out of this project. I guess I just like references? When I look back at all of the paintings, I can see that I majorly focused on abstract paintings, collages, and plants. Instead of pushing myself to paint new subjects without references, I managed to make this project fit with where my interests have been taking me - towards collage and patterns. I'm not sure if the answer is to push myself harder to try new things in the future. I definitely don't want to become complacent or only stick to making things that feel safe, but I think that the best way for me to grow right now is to chase what I'm interested in down the rabbit hole, rather than mapping out a direction for myself.
3. Experiment with sharing work on the internet. I'm still pretty conflicted on this one. As I said in my first post on the 100 Day Project, I want my internet presence to be like the inside of my brain - I want it to make me feel happy, inspired, and proud. And some days I don't really achieve photos that incite those feelings (hello, badly lit photos of quick, exhausted road trip paintings on notebook paper). So I'm not really a fan of daily posts with a challenge like this. I also just don't think I need the accountability. I already make stuff every day. On the other hand, I do want to be authentic and I do want to share what I'm working on as I'm working on it. It adds to the process and is a way that I connect with other creative people online. This project also helped me to think more critically and creatively about sharing my work. I started to think "am about to paint this because I'm excited to paint it, or because it is the first random subject I thought of that would be quick and easy to paint so I can get a post up?" or "is this the best way to share this piece, or is there another way to photograph it that more closely matches my vision?" I'm hoping to keep up with that kind of thought process even after this project.
I've enjoyed working on 100 Days of Watercolor Without Reference, but I'm even more excited to be able to move on to other projects that I'm interested in right now. I'm fascinated by the way that working with watercolor influenced what I created - the medium just felt so perfectly suited to flowing, liquid abstracts and I couldn't stop myself from painting them. Right now gouache is calling to me and I'm excited to expand on the collages that I've been working on. Even drawing seems appealing these days - focusing on watercolor seems to have healed my sketching burnout. Onto the next.