10 things I learned from doing 100 paintings in 100 days ✨

10 things I learned from doing 100 paintings in 100 days ✨


At the start of the year, Laura (thecreatrixco_), Samantha (@the_sassy_crayon) and I embarked on a (semi-insane) mission to create something new every day for 100 days. For something that seems so simple and straightforward, I actually learned SO much, so I thought I would share it with you!

Here are my 10 biggest takeaways.



1. So much can change in 100 days

At the start of the challenge (January) I had decided that I was going to dedicate 8 hours a day to this activity, as I am lucky enough to do this as my full time job. Come February, I had to take on more responsibility in my personal life which took up a couple of days a week, then our living situation changed and we had to find somewhere else to live. We had to clear a couple of weekends for social events in March, and I was leaving to go back to England in April so had to organise things for that too! Moral of the story…Don’t assume you can take on mammoth tasks every day for that long, an hour a day would have been way more achievable.



2. It’s really hard to get motivated every day

Some days you wake up with a head full of ideas and a rocket up your ass. Other days you scroll through insta, clean the house and catch up with loved ones. Before you know it it’s 11am and you haven’t even set yourself up for the day! Not every day is going to be easy, but I found that if I told myself that after an hour I can stop if I’m not feeling it, I found it much easier to start. Having a system and leaving things set up as much as possible the night before makes it much less daunting to get started!



3. Creating gets easier the more often you do it

When I was in a good routine and was painting every single day, it gets so much easier to paint. Your co-ordination gets better, you see the shapes better, and you build on the previous days ideas and systems to make things easier and get better skills. As soon as I stopped to go home for a month, getting back into painting is so much harder! It really is true that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Even 10 minutes a day sketching keeps things fresh in my mind and keeps my skills sharp (or shows me where I have some learning to do)



4. Batching similar tasks pays massive dividends

Starting with a blank canvas is SO intimidating. I was recommended by Sam to batch similar tasks to be able to stay in flow rather than task switching all the time at the start of the challenge, but sometimes you have to struggle for a while for the advice to really make sense! Once I started painting backgrounds, sketching out stencils, making collages etc in batches, I found I had so much more time free to perfect the finer details. Would 100% recommend if you are doing a collection or multiple pieces to give it a go



5. Having a prompt can help or massively stump you

Before the challenge started Laura and I came up with 100 prompts in order for people to be able to join along and have a starting point. Initially this was a great idea because I find it so hard to just ‘draw something’ and having a starting point in which to expand from and create a concept was great! Until it’s not. Some of them I found it really difficult to come up with a design that both fits the brief and is something I actually would enjoy creating, so some of the earlier pieces really didn’t come easily as I was so tied to the idea of doing the challenge “right”. But after I gave myself permission to use them as a guide not as a restraint, whenever a prompt didn’t inspire me I had the option to do something that lights me up! Rules are there to be broken…right?



6. Be kind to yourself and pace your work

Trying to create full sized canvas pieces every day nearly gave me a mental breakdown as soon as I felt I was running behind. Who said they all needed to be huge pieces? I was putting so much pressure on myself to create a certain way at the expense of my mental health. Shifting gear and allowing myself to make smaller paper pieces made such a difference and allowed me to move back into a space of play rather than back breaking work.



7. Having a community makes things so much easier

I honestly would not have completed the challenge had it not been for the people around me, from my partner, Laura & Sam and my online community. Having supportive people around you cheering you on makes ALL the difference. Sam & Laura were doing the challenge at the same time, keeping me accountable. My partner was coming into my workspace while I was having a meltdown, telling me to take a minute & come back to it, giving me ideas for some of the prompts and giving me gentle reminders when I was going off course and procrastinating. My online community, sharing, liking and commenting on the posts, cheering me on from the sidelines and purchasing the pieces that you fell in love with. It gave me the strength to keep it up and not just ditch the whole idea. Long story short, get a team on your side, no one can do these things alone.



8. Trying to save time can lead to genius ideas

Some of the best things I stumbled across technique wise in this challenge were a result of me trying to cut out the things that I felt gave the least impact while taking up the most time. The collage technique meant that I didn’t have to waste time perfecting large areas of skin. The abstract backgrounds meant that I didn’t crowd my paintings with unnecessary detail. Being energy efficient and thinking of alternatives made a huge difference in my paintings and the amount of fun I had doing them!


9. Perfectionism kills flow

There’s nothing worse than being in flow, having a great time painting, it’s all coming together and you suddenly realise that the shadow somewhere isn’t perfect. By the time you’ve gone over it, realised its still not the same as the reference image and you try again, usually you end up spiralling into despair and all of a sudden the whole thing feels like its off, your paint is drying out and going gloopy, and you’re in a foul mood doubting your skills, for something no one else is possibly going to see. Roll with it! Easier said than done, but I promise it makes it wayyy more fun. No one is holding the photo up next to the art and criticising a slight change of angle or a blend.



10. Most of all, that you have no idea what your style is until you’ve done a LOT of paintings

When I started out, I thought I was going to paint 100 realistic nudes. Then the prompts started giving me other ideas, then by the time I get to the end of the challenge I realise that I actually love mixed media portraits! So if you dont feel that you have a style, keep going. The more paintings you do, the more your style will appear, and it may be something totally new and even more exciting! So loosen the reins, don’t stress about the final destination and just see what magic comes through those hands and mind of yours!




Have you ever done a 100 day creative challenge? I would love to know your experience! Reach out to me on instagram @danielleoreilly_art and slip into those DMs , I’m always open to chat and answer any questions xxx

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