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My 100-day sketchbook project – results of a new routine

For those who want to take on an artistic challenge, there are plenty of online organized 'art challenges' to choose from. From Inktober to Slowvember, from March of Robots to Draw 365 – the selection is vast. Many have a common timeframe, a certain frequency (usually daily) and an associated hashtag. Differences lie in the theme, the technique, the rules – and the experiences and results are as diverse as the people who take them on.

In general, I struggle with rigid concepts that aim to participate every day to keep up. I have realized for myself that this stresses me more than it inspires me, so I no longer participate in these challenges. If I ever become interested in them again, I would probably give myself the freedom to deviate or abstain.

A challenge that is more flexible from the outset and promotes an individual approach is the 100-day project.

The idea is that there is a common start date and motivating emails with suggestions and thoughts. Posts should also be made using the corresponding hashtag. Beyond that, however, you define your own project and have the freedom to skip days and thus complete your own 100 days later.

My second 100-day project


In 2019, I already did a 100-day project. At that time, I furthered my education in the field of user interface design and created a fictional app that I could then put into my portfolio – which ultimately got me a new job! And I didn't even complete the 100 days back then.

Only this year did I have an idea and a project that I wanted to tackle in this format: I set myself the goal of working experimentally in my art journal/sketchbook for 100 days. The reason for this was that I felt I was diligently collecting input and documenting my progress, but my output was falling short. I wanted to see if I could make it a habit to draw, paint, and experiment more regularly in it. (see also: my blog post on the topic of art journaling)

During this time, I didn't post anything because I wanted to keep all external stressors at bay. I didn't need any external pressure to motivate me.

In numbers


In total, I needed 120 days, so I had 20 dropouts (most of them surprisingly on weekends). I worked with many different materials and techniques, noted 38 thought starters for days when you have no ideas, and 28 "insights".

Based on the days I skipped, I can trace my motivation curve well – I attribute the drop after the halfway point to the fact that the project had run out of steam then, and I was busy organizing the exhibition in parallel. Towards the end, with the preparation of this blog post and the will to finally arrive at day 100, I was able to motivate myself much better again and put a lot of effort into the individual works.

Results and Insights


I learned a lot! On days when I felt totally uncreative and drew rather unmotivated, I often laid the foundation for more productive days. From these seemingly aimless sketches, an idea often emerged that I could develop further. Holding on to something that I didn't like instantly, often yielded the most exciting results. Ergo: Just stick with it more often.

I surprised myself the most when I switched off my head and just played. And the fact that you can be inspired by every little thing was shown to me on a page that was based on a small spot – an inspiration for a series of mini silhouette figures.

I also often had to think about my time as a student. From Prof. Ludes we learned the concept of "controlled randomness": to deliberately create something random and use it further – like with quickly thrown watercolor marks, which I then traced and let grow into organic structures.

Also: There is always a next page, a next experiment. So if something doesn't work out so well or I don't like it – so be it! Everyone has "bad drawing days", and that's absolutely okay. It also has advantages to recognize when a technique doesn't suit us or we don't like a result – then we should perhaps simply work on or with something else. Without trying, we wouldn't find out.



In my eyes, my second 100-day project was also a success. On my own terms, I developed a sketchbook routine. The art journal is even better integrated into my everyday life, I enjoy doodling and experimenting and even feel that I can better organize my thoughts in the process. It will by no means stop at 100 days. Without counting, I will try to maintain this routine in a relaxed way.

Would you also like to participate in a creative challenge? Give it a try! And if you realize that a format doesn't suit you or stresses you out, it's always legitimate to quit. After all, that's how you learn what suits you and what doesn't.

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