A year ago, I took on a creative challenge that went on to become my favorite accomplishment of 2016: the #100daysofpolipaints project! 🙂
I finished the project on October 29: my 23rd birthday gift to myself! By then, I had completed 71 paintings and already sold quite a few. But what really made this 100 day project so meaningful and life-affirming was the inner satisfaction I got from pursuing and sharing my passion. I received overwhelming encouragement from all corners of my little world and it has made all the difference. Thank you. I had no idea so many among my friends were closet artists, creative enthusiasts, or simply people who liked seeing art on their feeds.
So before I close this chapter and begin anew, I wanted to share what I feel are the most important lessons I learned along the way. For anyone who wants to grow creatively or feels they have something special to share but haven’t found the courage to do so, this is for you:
Top 10 Lessons from #100daysofpolipaints 2016
1. Just begin. It doesn’t matter how mechanical or amateur it feels at first. The best way to get out of a rut is to just do it. The longer you wait, the more guilt and excuses you accumulate. Action drives out fear.
2. Don’t worry about running out of ideas. There is no such thing. Creativity is a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Executing ideas constantly forces you to look outward for more inspiration and you’ll be surprised at how much you have to give. Your mind is truly ~infinite~
3. Momentum is everything. I can’t stress this enough, especially when you’re working on a long term project. The beauty of the 100 day project was that it gave me a solid goal to work towards, a game to win. As the great prophet Shia LaBeouf said, “If you hate starting over, quit giving up!” Baby steps count. Consistency always wins.
4. Some of your ideas will be shit. Let’s be honest. Not everyday will yield a masterpiece. Some days it’s really just not “there” yet. I have had days where I completely painted over a piece because it just wasn’t working. And that’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Sometimes you need to give yourself the permission to make bad art today, so that tomorrow the creative block is out of your system and you can try again.
5. Time is worthless without attention. I often get asked, “How do you find time to paint?!” The truth is, I never “found” time to paint. I had to intentionally carve out the first two hours of my day, tune out all distractions, and get my hands dirty. But if you really feel you have no time, I urge you to try the Half Hour Method. For 30 minutes just make up your mind to focus on making something. (Use the 30 minutes it would have taken you to scroll through social media haha) It doesn’t have to be great all the time (see #4) but if you keep at it, you’ll come up with something substantial. The key is making your private creative time a priority. When you prioritize, you’ll find you have more than enough time.
6. Seek inspiration from unexpected places. Don’t limit yourself to categorizing media or experiences into inspiring vs. uninspiring. Inspiration is truly everywhere, only if you keep your eyes open. For example, one of my favorite things to do is to go into bookstores and look at the cover art. (The typography! The colors! The strange photo choices!) Push yourself to be more observant, and you’ll find that more creative content from unlikely sources will find its way into your subconscious. On another note…
7. Recognize what fascinates you. Maybe it’s a color combo or the pattern on a stranger’s outfit. Or maybe you’re obsessed with the way waves move (like me). Whatever it is, use that mysterious pull that gravitates you to certain colors, objects and places. Fascination is great art waiting to happen.
8. Show your work. Whether it’s work-in-progress or a finished piece: all process is still progress. By sharing your art, you never know who you might inspire, and putting yourself out there will eventually take you places. But first you have to push past your inner critic and show the world what you’re up to. Google Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work” for more on this.
9. Collaborate. You don’t have to fall into the lone-artist-in-his-studio stereotype. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get out there and learn from other artists. When I fell into a rut halfway through the 100 days, it was signing up for art class at Sunshine Place that helped me go forward. Being mentored by an experienced artist (Hi, Sir Fidel) and painting alongside the Lolas of Manila was a refreshing experience. Crowdsourcing suggestions and doing commissioned work also pushed me to paint artworks I otherwise might not have done. And finally, throwing an art+alcohol birthday party at Day 100 (another post on this!) was my way of coming full circle and giving back.
10. Your art is worth something. In any journey, there will be days when you doubt your worth as an artist, as a person. In fact I started this project in part because 2015 was rough on me. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and fear, most of which were monsters inside my head. But painting was my happy place and in many ways, art saved my life. Doing what makes you happy is worth it. Do what you have to do to shrink the monsters and create meaning. That’s how you remind yourself that you have the power to create light despite darkness. That’s how you make art. After all, art is the highest form of hope.
Thank you to everyone who made this project so meaningful. I love you all. Will I do another #100daysofpolipaints? Maybe. 😉 For now I’ll be planning my first solo exhibit (!!!) and seeing how far this love affair with art will take me.
PS. Let’s make things happen! For collaborations and commissions, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org