• Erin Acker

100 Day Project: On failure, plans, and preparation

One of my goals for the new year is to improve my acrylic painting, so I’ve decided to combine that with another goal: the 100 day project. The goal of the project is to paint 100 paintings in 100(ish) days. I’ve started the project a few times before, but it’s always fizzled out, mainly because I got overwhelmed and didn’t know what to paint. I also felt a lot of pressure for every painting to be “good.”

But thanks to those failures, I’ve learned what I need to do to set myself up for success.

First, I've done a lot of work sorting through my feelings about what it means to make 'good' art. It would be disingenuous to say that I’ve abandoned the pressure to paint only 'good' things; of course I haven’t done that. I still want everything to be good (whatever that means), and I feel disappointed and frustrated when paintings don’t work out. For a while, I tried not to be disappointed when paintings didn’t work out, but that flopped too (unsurprisingly). What I have done is get more comfortable with feeling however I feel about a painting. If I love it, great; if I don’t love it, also great. It’s okay to feel however I feel about my art, and I will keep painting knowing that I will inevitably be thrilled, disappointed, elated, and frustrated. Painting is just as much a mental game for me as it is about my skills, so I’m going into this project with an open mind, prepared to feel whatever feelings it brings up.

The second thing I’m doing to help myself finish this project is much more concrete. I’m planning out themes and organizing my reference photos. Last time I started the project, I’d start my day by flipping through my photos, rejecting them left and right, feeling panicky as the day wore on, getting overwhelmed, and then painting nothing. Turns out that is not a recipe for success.

To help myself out with this round of the project, I took a few days to sort through my reference photos and really think about what I want to paint. I decided on ten themes for the project, and I’ll do ten paintings for each theme. My hope is that I can use the related paintings to practice with certain color palettes, work on techniques, play with composition, and improve through repetition.

Here are my themes for the project, order subject to change:

  1. PNW Winter Scenes

  2. Snowy Utah Scenes

  3. Close up peaks (mainly from the Wind Rivers and the Pacific Crest Trail)

  4. Zoomed out mountain scenes (mainly PCT and Wind Rivers)

  5. Lakes

  6. Utah Desert Scenes

  7. Trees and skies

  8. Coastlines

  9. Alpenglow

  10. Atmospheric perspective (where distant mountains/hills fade)

The plan is to take a day off after every set of ten paintings, so I’ll finish the project by mid-April.

I’m really looking forward to painting the Pacific Northwest winter scenes. Since I didn’t get to travel back home for the holidays this year, this will be my way of revisiting western Washington. I’m also really looking forward to painting alpenglow and atmospheric perspective. I think these two will be more technical, so I’m saving them for last, after I’ve gotten more practice.

Are there any themes you’re looking forward to seeing?

I'll be posting my paintings on Instagram and here on the blog. They'll also be for sale in my Etsy shop. Works on paper will be available promptly, and works on canvas and wood panels will be available once I varnish them.

Thanks for following along! I can't wait to share my work with all of you.

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