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The 100 Day Project

Lee May Foster-Wilson / June 23, 2023

Hello Bonbi friends!

You may have seen on social media that since February I have been taking part in the 100 Day Project…Most people who took part and posted every day finished sometime in the middle of May but I am still going, like a really slow marathon runner coming home weeks after everyone else!

Well, my drawings may not have been done on consecutive days all the way through, there have been a few breaks for a holiday and most weekends but I am finally nearing the finish and have been reflecting on how important this project has been for my art practise this year, what wisdom I can impart from doing it and also what I am going to do with all of the drawings when I finish them…100 is a lot to be stashed away and I would much more like to share them.Lee Foster-Wilson 100 day Project pre prepared papers

I wanted to do the project because I have been in a bit of a transitional phase with my work for the last year. I have slowly been finding my feet with this change, playing in my sketchbook and making my birds drawings, generally getting looser and a bit more experimental but progress was slow. I needed something to give me accountability and a purpose with this work and that is where the 100 day project came in.

I like a hook when I am doing these projects, in the past I have done colour experiments (100 days of random colours and 100 days of three colours) and randomly a series of 100 drawings of ‘Celebimals’ (see what those mysterious beasts are HERE!) And this time around I decided to make 100 pre-prepared backgrounds to work on, which was fun. Sloshing ink around on A3 paper before slicing them up into the 100 A5 sheets for the drawings.Lee Foster-Wilson Preparing Paper for the 100 day projectPreparing the papers

I started the project thinking that I would play with my art style and subject matter a lot but I soon came to realise that experimenting on stage, sharing the drawing, good or bad, every single day was a lot harder than I thought. So I made my peace with that and decided to just try one new thing each day, if I wanted to. This was really freeing and over the course of the project I have found myself swinging from much more experimental work back to my comfort zone. It was almost like when I set off too much into the unknown I had to come back to my safe place for a little while afterwards. But I have also experimented within my safe place of birds and flowers, and let myself try these things in new ways, which I have then found I have repeated throughout the project when it has been successful.Lee Foster-Wilson 100 day project Drawings

A lot of people have asked where I get my ideas for each drawing from or if I planned ahead and I don’t really have a straightforward answer for that. I definitely didn’t plan ahead. As much as I like a parameter it’s stifling if it’s too much, I have to be in the right mood and headspace for each drawing and there’s no way of predicting what that might be.

As far as the ideas go they came from all places. I think when having creative ideas it’s really important to not sit down at your desk and think ‘what shall I draw?’ If things aren’t coming you have to go out into the world and look for them, and so I kept my eyes and mind open, paid attention to what was going on around me, little snippets of things that piqued an interest.Lee Foster-Wilson 100 Day Project Images

Sometimes it was just one thing I read or heard that made my mind wander into a more visual territory. Or a colour combination or motif that set off ideas. For example day 92 was inspired by reading about ‘Les Fraises Anglaises’ in a magazine at the hairdressers. Day 64 by my sister-in-laws horse having her first foal. Day 69 from meeting a friends African giant snail at bookclub. Day 20 from wandering through a wooded area and spotting catkins on the trees (see these images above) I could go on! Keeping your mind open and alive to all things around you, big and small will bring about more ideas than you ever thought you could have in a short space of time. And here’s a top tip, write them down or take a photo and store them all together in the notes in your phone for when you are feeling stuck. Having a list to call on makes a huge difference!

I guess one thing this project has taught me, or reminded me really, is that big things can come from little steps. Just one drawing on (mostly!) consecutive days has built up to be quite the body of work in a relatively short space of time. And the ideas generated by doing this have fed into other work that I have been making alongside the project. It’s been like a very public sketchbook in that way. If you had told me at the beginning of February that by mid June I would have produced nearly 100 pieces of new work (not to mention all of the other illustration work that I have been working on at the same time…secret projects that I will share when I can!) Then I would have thought that sounded absolutely like a headache and an impossible mountain to climb. But I’ve nearly done it!Lee Foster-Wilson 100 Day project drawimgs

At the time I write this I have five more drawings to make and then I want to share them all with you. I am going to make a book of them all with musings on the inspiration, ideas and materials used, but also have a sale of the originals, an affordable way to purchase some original art and hopefully see off as many as possible of these little artworks so they can be enjoyed in happy new homes rather than stuffed in a folder here.

So stay tuned for that news. In the meantime I can’t recommend enough doing a project like this if you are looking to kick start your creativity, find your artistic style or give your existing art practise a boost. It doesn’t have to be 100 days (it’s quite the commitment, I can tell you!) I think a drawing a day for a month or even a new drawing every couple of days would also be of huge benefit.

Check out time-lapse videos of most of the drawings under the hashtag #lees100daysartplay on Instagram or in my shorts feed on YouTube.

If you want to ask me any questions about doing a project like this, the materials I used or how I made time to do it in the first place or anything else at all, please do reach out to me via email: and I will be happy to answer them.

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