what I learned making art for 30 consecutive days

While I was on a social media break, I knew I needed to cultivate a better habit to replace the poor habit I had of picking up my phone every few seconds. I needed a practice that would redirect some of the energy and attention I gave to social media. So, for 30 days, I decided to complete a painting each day. 

Because of the fullness of my day, I knew I would need to start small. And that’s what I did.  I took a pad of 6 x 6 inch water color paper and began.  The first two weeks were primarily abstract paintings. Just to get warmed up and used to painting everyday. Eventually I began to draw more pieces which reflected the time I was spending in the woods. I explored more realistic pieces of my kids and me. I painted an owl. I experimented with watercolor and gouache. 

On some days I was very excited. On other days tired. On some days I was REALLY into it and would paint that small piece of paper for more than an hour. And on others days I didn’t feel like it. Didn’t matter. What mattered was that I showed up. 

After completing this month of daily painting, I got a glimpse into what can happen when I develop a good habit. It wasn’t the first time I’ve embarked such an experiment. A few years ago, I made a commitment to show up for my music everyday. What ended up happening in what became 127 consecutive days of music was incredible. I wrote more songs in those 127 days than I had in years. I taught myself how to play ukulele and I pulled myself out of a really dark period in my life. I eventually stopped that experiment because I had to move. Nothing to disturb habit formation than a stressful event. 

But back to the current experience. Once a few days after the my 30 days ended and I stopped making art, I quickly wished I had not just stopped at the end of the 30days. Instead of making 30 days the goal, I should have made 30 being the starting point, the warm up for bubbling a creative habit that could last years. Because I know that if I can go 30 days, I can keep going. I’ve done it before. Yes, there may be some days when I don’t do my best work, but the point of it all is to show up and create. Create anything.

I have resumed my daily writing practice, even if you don’t see it. But if you want to read what I post here, I’m sharing every Monday and Thursday. Beginning November 1, I will resume my daily small art practice and occasionally share some of the small art here as well. I intend to create other bigger work, but this is all about creating artistic habits that last as long as I do. Be well.

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