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The 2100 Painting Challenge

It’s been a while since I last posted here, so I thought I'd pop in to update you on where I’m at and what I’ve been up to.


This year has been a wild ride for me personally (I'll share more about that in the coming weeks), and interestingly, my art has been evolving alongside these changes—which is both exhilarating and challenging. A question that often surfaces in this journey, one that many artists grapple with, is about my creative voice: What is my style? What do I want to express? While I cherish learning new techniques and exploring various aspects of art and the creative process, I sometimes feel that my personal touch gets overshadowed.

Artist Nicole Simmons holding a brush as she paints

Learning and experimenting are enriching, but they often bring in other people’s “voices” into what you create—making it more of a collaboration at times. It reminds me of a childhood memory: coloring in a book at my neighbor’s house and being told to “color inside the lines.” Suddenly, the joy of coloring became less about my creativity and more about adhering to someone else’s rules. My color choices, but my neighbor's guidelines.


This isn’t to say that my recent experiments and learning haven't been fulfilling or that the work I’ve created isn’t genuinely mine. Rather, I’ve come to recognize a desire for more freedom in my expression a less “collaboration”, a yearning to stop “consuming” so much and start creating more independently. It echoes Einstein’s quote: “There comes a point in your life when you need to stop reading other people's books and write your own.”


Which brings me to last night. I was delving into the lives and techniques of the old masters, particularly Van Gogh, and learned a striking fact: he created about 2100 works of art in just a decade. That’s more than one painting every other day! This revelation made me wonder: How would my style evolve after 2100 paintings?


The Challenge: Inspired, I decided to embrace this challenge. By 2030, I aim to complete 2100 paintings. I'm retroactively counting from 2020 to honor the progress I've already made, giving me a head start of 327 paintings. Just 1773 more to go!


My Emotions and Plans: As I contemplate this vast volume of work, I'm engulfed in a whirlwind of emotions - nervousness, excitement, curiosity, and a bit of self-doubt. Can I really do this? My strategy involves setting a framework for this challenge, focusing more on the process of creating on my own and growth than on the final product. This journey is about embracing the spirit of relentless creativity and discovery, much like Van Gogh did.


The Framework: I've set three main 'rules' for this venture:

  1. It’s not just about the number. The primary goal is to discover and hone my artistic voice. I have 2100 opportunities to experiment with and, perhaps, fail – and that’s perfectly fine.

  2. This is not a quest for perfection or cohesiveness. It's a journey towards finding my unique style and voice, filled with trials and learning. Among these 2100 experiments, some works I'll be proud of, others not so much. And that’s completely okay.

  3. Reflection after each painting session is vital. What aspects did I enjoy, and why? What didn’t resonate with me, and why? What new techniques or themes am I curious about exploring next? What have I learned about my process that I didn’t know before?

Join Me on This Journey: I’ll be sharing a lot about this adventure on my social media. I encourage you to follow along on Facebook and Instagram! Share your thoughts, engage with the process, and maybe, find inspiration for your own creative journey!

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