To force myself to get up & running with digital painting, I chose to make one space-related digital painting each day for 30 days. For accountability, I posted each daily painting on Instagram. Could I stick with it? Could I make decent work? Would I get better at it over time? (The answer to all of these is yes.)
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew something good would come of taking time to make art every day. As a scatterbrain, I spread my energies in many directions, starting projects and abandoning them for the next shiny idea. I work on a project for a few days or weeks, then don’t do any creative work for a while, then start something else, get distracted or discouraged, rinse & repeat. The new experience of working consistently on something every single day like this has been great.
5 benefits I found doing my first 30 day creative project:
1. It’s a great way to start off a new project, especially if you tend to quit or switch projects early on.
Committing to doing a certain type of art every day for a month establishes a steady practice, forcing you to keep at it and stay disciplined in a way you might not be used to. A daily, month-long sprint is a good tactic for getting through the intimidating start-up barrier at the beginning of a new project, when it’s otherwise easy to give up.
2. It boosts confidence big time.
Seeing the completed paintings pile up, or watching the images fill your Instagram feed feels great, like you’re actually doing the thing you wanted to do. Because you *are* actually doing the thing! For once you’re not just dreaming up a project or thinking about a project, but you’re carrying it out. Imposter syndrome weakens a bit when you can look at the proof of your work.
3. It reduces unhealthy perfectionism.
When you’re busy, tired, cranky, but still need to do your painting for the day, you’re not going to indulge your perfectionism for hours on end. You’ll learn to let go at “good enough for today.” Knowing that you will start over again tomorrow takes away that paralyzing focus on making the current one as good as humanly possible (or better). You can’t keep working on it and worrying over it for days – you finish it tonight and let it go, beginning a new one tomorrow.
4. Iterative painting is a great way to get better at a subject quickly.
Rather than trying to paint a subject really well just once, laboring over one painting for days or weeks, you do dozens of takes – in different ways, trying new approaches, learning what works & what doesn’t. If you want to get better at drawing trees, for example, it would be better to draw 30 different trees to a “good enough” level than 1 tree to perfection. See this video for a great explanation of iterative drawing.
5. You learn the value of starting/doing/making as a priority over planning/thinking.
As you paint, you’ll figure out what you want to paint. This works much better than sitting there not painting and instead thinking of what you might like to paint or writing out a list of ideas. Those lists are nice, of course, but not worth much if you’re not actively producing work. And making work turns out to be the best generator of ideas to put on those lists.
Try it for yourself!
This first 30 day experiment was so helpful for me that I plan on doing another very soon, and it may become a permanent addition to my creative toolbox. If you’ve never tried a 30 day creative challenge, I highly recommend it – especially if you tend to start many projects without consistently following through. If you have tried one before, were there any benefits for you that I didn’t include on my list?