Popular wisdom (aka “some guy in a bar” and/or “the internet”) holds that it takes about three weeks (21 days) to form or break a habit. This is simply not true. To begin with, the three-week timeline is simply a rule of thumb – there are many variables and some habits take far longer to solidify while others are a snap to add to your routine.
But it is true that doing something over and over to consciously make it a part of your everyday life can have a long-lasting impact, whether it’s drinking more water or limiting screen time. This is one reason why so many lifestyle books and blogs seem to swear by the 30-Day Challenge format. (Including this one – type the term “30 Days” in the search box on the right and you’ll find last December’s tour through Fiona Ferris’s 30 Chic Days, which was a very fun time!)
For a number of years, I’ve thought to myself that my “art” (and I never quite felt comfortable calling it that, hence the quote marks) was in the way I live my life. I have tried (and continue to try) to incorporate style, whimsy, and joy into my everyday life, whether that activity is teaching a class or shopping for groceries. I think that’s a worthy goal in and of itself – heaven knows our lives need some lightness and humor. But creating visual art is something I’ve never done – any drawing I’ve done has nearly always been in the pursuit of some other goal, like completing a class project or sketching a plan for an herb garden. I had started trying my hand at watercolor painting (you can read about that by clicking here) and my friends were being kind and encouraging. But was I ready to take it to the next level?
At the beginning of April, a friend (hi, Molly!) brought the #the100dayproject to my attention and I had a decision to make. As someone who had only recently discovered the glories of regular creative endeavors, I was intimidated at first – wasn’t #the100dayproject meant for serious creatives?
Then again, anyone who vows to create a hundred pieces of art in a hundred days – whether that art is created from paint, cloth, or macaroni – I think can call themselves an artist if they want to.
So I committed to the project, which meant carving out time every day to paint. (Yes, I skipped one or two days, but then doubled up on the following day, so I finished on time.) I experimented with different paints, brushes, and papers. I posted my work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and was heartened by the “likes” and the comments. I painted animals, landscapes, people, waves, and flowers (like the flower cart at the top of this post – that was about halfway through the project). And I let myself learn.
That was the key for me. For once in my Double Type A life, I was willing to go through the process of learning, instead of insisting on already knowing. I improved. I tried new subjects and techniques that I was sure I couldn’t do. I tried again. I went to class. I invited (and accepted) criticism. I took a deep breath and entered a few pieces into a local art show. I even sold some pieces, although that’s not – in any way – what makes a person an artist. (We live in a capitalist society, though, and “sales” equals “real artist” to some.) I consulted an accountant, opened a separate bank account, and completed paperwork to create the “River of Cream Studio.” And I blossomed.
I’m a artist. It’s not the primary way I put bread on my table, no. Regardless of that, I’m an artist.
I hope my story will inspire others to pick up a brush or dust off their jazz shoes. Or maybe you’ll go to the local art museum to see the current exhibit or go by the local coffeehouse to listen to open mic night.
In the end, we all have a drive to create. I would appreciate it if you would visit the “River of Cream” tab here at Splendor in the Sticks. If you see anything you like, please contact me – we can discuss custom work if you like, although a simple “atta girl!” is also much appreciated.
We are all magnificent. Let us celebrate that fact today – and every day moving forward!