100 Paintings in 1 year – learning to create.

On June 1st 2019, I set a challenge for myself to create 100 sellable quality paintings in 1 year. I’m a quarter of the way through that year and have to date created 25 paintings (click here to see my latest painting) and learned a lot. I figure it’s about time to capture some thoughts about why i’ve set this challenge for myself, and what I hope to achieve.

My first 20 paintings (missing a couple which were getting framed)

But first some of the backstory.

I come to this challenge with zero previous experience in art. Aside from art class in school the only other time I produced some art was while learning to become a teacher – one of the many professions i’ve occupied.

For the majority of my working life i’ve been an entrepreneur. My last gig was co-founder and CEO of a high tech start up which we successfully grew to 150+ person company. Working with people and teams has always been a strength of mine and leveraging those skills to grow a company and a community was incredibly rewarding.

The years of passion and commitment to being an enrepreneur had taken a tole on my health and lifestyle. At the age of 40+, I found myself to be a professional “jack of all trades”, and far from a master of anything myself. I had had moderate success in business but never felt like I myself had actually created anything.

I had a yearning to produce, to create.

When I stepped away from the company I had co-founded and dedicated the last 15 years of my life to, I was somewhat discombobulated – to put it lightly. Over the years I had developed a rather unhealthy attachment to alcohol and cigarettes. I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and pretty much all my habits were geared towards surviving the battle of a high stress “break through walls” envirnonment at work.

I had to break myself and rebuild and refresh, and a critical part of this recovery would be addressing the need to create something of my own. I experimented with all sorts of things, including farming, and sports, and also started some drawing. I had always doodled at work in meetings using it as a way to focus. I started to experiment with different media, such as ink pens, oils, water colors, spray paints, pastels.

doodles at work

Most of what I produced was fairly contrived in the beginning, it probably still is to some degree. But in the beginning I wasn’t really very happy with what I produced. I hated everything I created. I hated every mark I made. I hated it all so much, that i started to try to copy things from other people, just so that I wouldn’t hate what I produced so much – then I hated myself even more.

It soon became clear that I was battling something more than just a mere displeasure at the artwork I was creating. I wondered to myself how I could possibly have so much displeasure for something I had produced with my own hand. The more I created, the more I reflected, and the more I realised that I was fighting a deep depression.

creation > depression:

Producing art was putting me in direct contact with my self esteem. Away from the art, life since leaving work was up and down, with more downs lately. I was finding in the art, a kind of process to engage with myself and address my challenges. I started to see myself in my art and that started to give me confidence.

I started following other artists and developing an opinion on what I liked, and what I didn’t. One day I came across the work of artist Jesse Reno and fell in love with his process for creation. Although probably not unique, what I loved about Jesse’s process was that he would paint what ever came to him (doodle) and then repaint over what he didn’t like, and keep the bits he liked. Often there would be 10 layers plus on the canvas. There was a fearlessness and an acceptance about it that really appealed to me.

I decided that I too wanted to be fearless.

And so, like i have done so many times in my entrepreneurial experience, i set myself a goal with the aim of learning how to create art, and 100 paintings in 1 year was born.

The actual goal is to create 100 sellable quality paintings in 1 year from June 1 2019 to May 31 2020. In the process of achieving this specific goal, I expect to improve my technical skills, and to also find an artistic voice. The point of adding “sellable quality” to the goal is to drive me to learn about the art business and how to create a living from creating art. Whether, I can achieve that or not is another thing, but I expect to have that answered within the next 12 months.

Most importantly, I will be working on myself. I don’t expect to be a fully fledged artist at the end of the year, but I do hope to be a healthier, happier, more rounded, creative individual.

fingers crossed.

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