#the100dayproject, 2021 Edition

Another round of The 100 Day Project is in the bag! This is the fourth time I’ve participated (third time completed) and it’s a real learning experience, every time.

For this round I drew stuff in the city where I live (Hamilton, Ontario) and used the hashtag #100daysofhamont. My intentions for the project definitely evolved over the course of the 100 days and I’ve spent a bit of time over the past few days reflecting on what I learned (sidebar: here are similar recaps from 2018 and 2014).

One thing that’s abundantly clear to me is that drawing buildings is my comfort zone. Buildings will likely always (always!) be my favourite thing to draw because I don’t have to think about it too much. Given the state of things lately, committing to a daily habit that doesn’t require too much effort and reach was just about all I could manage in this weird moment.

Speaking of buildings, another recent realisation is that it’s ok to play fast and loose with perspective. I’ve been drawing buildings for a long time so I finally feel like I have an intuitive understanding of perspective (though I still make mistakes!), which is why I don’t get too fussed when my buildings look wonky or like they are about to fall over (always to the right). I’ve learned to accept and embrace and maybe even love the wonky! It’s how I draw and it’s ok.

I picked a pretty vague theme and hashtag to allow myself some latitude to draw whatever I wanted, not just buildings. I had grandiose plans to do a bit more reportage drawing, including people and events and such. Instead I drew a building. Every. Single. Day. (See above about not having a tonne of bandwidth to step outside the very comfortable comfort zone.) Also? We’ve been in lockdown for much of the last 100 days, there are no events to draw. And mostly the people I see are in boxes on a screen. (sigh)

One of my intentions with this round of the project was to enjoy the process as much as possible and to not get too caught up in the outcome. For maybe the first time ever, I think it worked. There were many (many) days when I didn’t really like what I drew, but I posted those drawings anyway. A recently-developed habit that helped here was forcing myself to find one or two things about the drawing I liked — even if it was a drawing that I ultimately thought was unsuccessful (for whatever reason), I tried to find something about it that I could appreciate. A window here, a sky there, a lampost over in the corner, whatever.

A final observation? On just two of one-hundred days I abandoned a drawing and started over. That’s not to say that I nailed it right away with the other ninety-eight (not even close!) – I just forced myself to push through that doubting stage, where what I had on the page in front of me felt like pure rubbish. If you’ve read anything at all about the creative process, you know that any creative practice has a crappy/awkward/i-hate-this stage that you have to just push through to get to the other side. 98% of the time (literally!) it turns out ok.

p.s. I’ve ventured into the world of art prints and many of the drawings from this series are available as giclee prints in my shop!

#the100dayproject, 2018 edition

I’ve always maintained that one of the main reasons why I keep a notebook/journal/occasional blog is because it helps me keep track of the things I’ve done. I participated in The 100 Day Project again this year and was pleased to be able to dig through this blog’s archives to find that I first participated back in 2014. No way I would have remembered that.

I started this edition of The 100 Day Project thinking I’d just commit to working in my sketchbook everyday (#100daysofetchesketchbook). As wide open as that was, I realised a few days in that I needed to make it even broader. At the time I was in full-on exploration mode, reading a tonne of books on technique and form, flitting between skillshare and craftsy (now bluprint), and contemplating various workshops at our local art school. So #100daysofetchesketchbook became #100daysofarteducation. It felt right.

At the time I was also trying to get motivated to get my submission in for the last round of The Sketchbook Project (tldr: they send you a sketchbook, you have to fill it by the deadline, and send it back to have it included in their Sketchbook Library). I’d decided on “texture” as my theme, mostly as a way to explore what that means and how it can be represented in a traditionally two-dimensional plane (the pages of a sketchbook).

And then something else happened on my little creative journey. I rediscovered a couple of urban sketchers I used to follow a few years ago and thereafter fell fully and completely down the urban sketching rabbit hole, devouring all the books I could find on the topic, following all the urban sketchers I could find on Instagram, and committing myself to sketching out in the world everyday.

It was super fun and, maybe most importantly, it held my interest through the entire 100 days and never once felt like a chore (as daily challenges can sometimes feel, at least for me). I also learned a lot:

  • Quantity leads to quality (I had many terrible sketches and a few I liked)
  • Watercolour is often a pain in the ass but almost always magical
  • Sketching on location takes a bit of courage at first then becomes so easy to do that you don’t even think about it
  • Most of the stuff you think you need in your sketch kit you don’t really need at all (my minimal kit consists of my sketchbook, a small watercolour box, one water brush, a pen with permanent ink, and an elastic band to hold my pages open/closed as needed).


A weekend in Quebec City

We were in Québec City last weekend for a fantastic wedding (#romewedsfrance 🙌🏼) and I did a bunch of sketching while we were there. The weather was terrific and the city was relatively quiet (compared to the high season visits we’ve had in the past), which meant it was super easy to find quiet corners to perch and get some drawing done. It was delightful! While I’ve been pretty good about sketching daily for the past couple of months (#the10dayproject FTW), I’ve been looking forward to getting out into the wider world and literally road testing my sketch kit.

Real talk: when I’m home, it’s way too easy to sketch in my car when I’m out and about in town. I hate drawing attention to myself! Plus, there’s sort of an element of performance in drawing when you’re out in the world, right? At least that’s what I thought, but my urban sketching experience this weekend disabused me of that notion. It didn’t feel performative at all! And people mostly left me alone, only glancing over my shoulder a couple of times. I did notice that as long as you’re scribbling in a book with a pen, people leave you alone; as soon as you break out the watercolours, they feel somewhat more emboldened to try to get a look at what you’re doing. Either way, it was all good.

In my sketch kit on this trip: a small (5×8) sketchbook, a fountain pen, a waterbrush, and my watercolours. Minimal and perfect!