100 Days of Musical Sketches

I recently took part in the 100 Day Project, and thought I’d share a little about how it went, what I learnd and how it helped my art practice.

What is the 100 Day Project?  Created by Elle Luna and Lindsey Jean Thomson, it’s a free global art project, where you choose something you want to establish or explore in your life and the goal is to show up day after day with your own unique hashtag (mine is #100daysofmusicalsketches) and post your images on Instagram as you go through the process.

Mostly it’s around art making and other forms of creativity, but it truly can be anything that you want to explore, a new habit you want to form, a through process you want to deepen.  It’s a celebration of process, of discovery, of digging deep in a specific way.

I’d been painting seriously for a while, and was discussing with a mentor about my past life as a musician, and how deeply that was ingrained in me and I felt I was having to chose one or the other.  I’d always seen them as two separate worlds.  She encouraged me to being painting while listening to and being inspired by music – the rhythm, the sounds, the emotions, the composition, shapes and tone colours.  So I chose that as my topic for my 100 day series, exploring how I might paint music, how music could shape the flow and composition in communicating with pigments and brush strokes, along with the language and culture that is seeped in to every piece. 

Some were more intuitive, trying to capture the feeling and space and tone of a song with colour and contrast.  Like this piece, inspired by Gymnopédie No.1 by Erik Satie.  To me the music feels open, spacious, like being alone on a snow covered hill.  Sighing winds and spareness.  Crystal cold yet beautiful.


Others I explored using the melody of a piece, the rise and fall dictating how I drew my lines.  Some used the instruments to guide my marks – loud timpani rolls forming strong patches on my page and gentle lyrical flute creating soft floaty lines.  Overlapping lines show how the instruments played over and around each other, like the following piece 'Horizon'.


And others focused on the lyrics and how their meaning could be described visually with lines and marks.  Sometimes a word, or a thought provoked, like this piece titled 'Oceans' inspired by the song of the same name from Hillsong United.


I painted from an eclectic range, musical styles, pop, Christian, classical, electronic, symphonic, and it’s been fascinating to see the different mini series that naturally occurred within the 100 days.  Creating paintings day after day allowed me to explore similar themes and styles to see where they would go, and allowed me to grow my mark making and colour exploration.  For me, it was important to create a new piece each day.  It kept my time frame short and purposeful, and to keep focusing on growth and experimentation rather than perfection.  No laboured pieces here!  That made it much more manageable and I never felt like giving up because they were fun, small snippets.  Also, painting at A4 size kept it affordable!

One of the things that surprised me was the language that accompanied each piece – the story telling became a third element in the paintings, the words providing that deeper sense of explanation and meaning I was searching for.  It allowed me to listen to each painting for it's story, to capture a thought deeply and to be immersed in it.  You can read the short snippets on Instagram, by searching my hashtag #100daysofmusicalsketches

A couple of my favourite mini series that emerged were Baroque, and Playful.   In Baroque, I’m fascinated by the incredibly rich, opulent design and culture, and the connection to water.  In Playful, I’m exploring that desire to break out of the adult ‘everyday’ routine, to laugh, be silly, embrace play, especially around water and how it makes you feel so alive by awakening all your senses.

I highly recommend doing your own 100 day series – it’s such a valuable experience!  I'm looking forward to the next one to develop new tools in my painting repertoire.

I’ll leave you with a few shots of some of my favs from the project – love to hear your thoughts.  Have you done a 100 day project? Did it push your creative journey?