One Hundred Days of Exploration — Mood and Atmosphere

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen an image very similar to this one. It was featured in a post titled “Late for the Party” in which I outlined my plans to participate in an online creativity challenge. The challenge began in April 2020, but I wasn’t aware of it until later, so I was, indeed “late for the party”.

My experience with the challenge was a mix of good, bad, happy, and sad, but before I go on, I should explain the challenge. It’s known as the 100 Day Project, and you can find additional information online. Essentially it’s a means for increasing creativity. You choose a creative project — it can be anything — and you commit to working on it every day for 100 days.

I don’t adhere strictly to the “rules” of the challenge. I don’t share my work online — other than here in my blog from time to time. I don’t announce my project to the group or participate in any activities. There really are no “hard and fast rules” to follow.

Last year it took me longer than 100 days to complete my personal project, which was working my way through a watercolor painting book by Aubrey Phillips. I learned a lot, cried a few tears of frustration, realized that I didn’t care a lot for the artist’s painting style, and happily moved on to begin finding my own style in watercolor.

The next round of the 100 Day Project begins on January 31, and once again I’m going to jump in and give it a go. As part of my art EXPLORATION — my personal word for 2021 — I’m going to broaden my study of tonalism by working on mood and atmosphere in oil painting.

Any successful project begins with a plan of action. We need to know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’ll go about it. We also need to gather the materials and other resources we’ll need to complete the project.


I’ll be doing much of my explorations through Painting Mood and Atmosphere in Oils by Carolyn Lewis. I purchased this book several years ago, and while I enjoyed it and learned from it, I really wasn’t ready to get the greatest possible benefit. I’d begun oil painting only a few months before. I didn’t yet have the real first-hand experience I needed.

Now, with a few years of oil painting behind me, I’m eagerly looking forward to re-reading this book and putting the ideas I learn into practice. I intend to work slowly through each section of the book, following along with the demonstrations she gives, and trying out the various techniques she suggests.

But even before the project officially gets underway, I’m going to be busy assembling my materials, reading her introduction and information on “Getting Started”, and doing a lot of oil painting practice. I want to try using different mediums. I want to work on improving my brushstrokes. I want to re-think the colors on my palette and how to best lay them out.

Then, on January 31, I’ll be ready to head off on this exciting new adventure. Here are the topics — taken from the book’s contents — I’ll be exploring:

  • Painting Techniques and the Basics of Mixing Color
  • Planning Strong Compositions
  • Capturing Light and Shadow
  • Changing with the Weather
  • Painting En Plein Air and in the Studio

In some respects, 100 days doesn’t sound like a long timespan. Still, I know from experience that it can sometimes be a real challenge to commit to faithfully keeping up with projects that require daily time and effort. But, again, there are no strict rules. If I finish a few days late, or if I fall short of the 100-day goal, nobody’s going to hold me accountable — except myself.

I’m allowing myself sufficient time to study each of the concepts listed. It will become part of my morning routine in the studio, just as my recent 31-day landscape painting project was. I looked forward to that daily activity each morning, and I think I’ll feel the same way about this new — longer — project.

One key I’ve learned for completing a successful project is in having a clear understanding of what to do each day. That’s what made my 31-day landscape project such a rewarding experience for me. In that project, I chose 31 tonalist landscape paintings to inspire my own daily work — done on 3 x 5 inch manila cards.

For my new project, I’m going to make myself a day-by-day schedule, outlining the materials I’ll be reading and studying, and making notes of the various paintings I’ll be doing. Much like a teacher outlining the curriculum for a semester, I’ll have my work planned out, yet I’ll still recognize a need for some flexibility.

Another thing I’m doing differently this year is printing out that step-by-step map of the 100-day pathway. I’ll pin it up on my bulletin board and mark off each step along the way. I’ll have fun doing that.

So, you’ll be seeing occasional artifacts and curios that I figuratively “dig up” as I explore mood and atmosphere in oil painting. You’ll probably hear me whine now and then; I might even cry a few times. It’s the dust, you know. It gets in one’s eyes when digging about, uncovering ideas, and searching for treasure.

The treasures I hope to find aren’t gold and silver or precious jewels. They’re inspiring ideas buried among the words I read. They’re glittering hopes for creating better art — meaning art that does express mood and atmosphere.

Of course, a 100-Day Project doesn’t have to involve painting, drawing, or any visual art form. It can truly be any sort of creative activity we choose, so why not come up with your own plan of action and join me in this creative challenge? There’s still time!


  1. hmm…i may look into this..i did a creative every day thing in November and enjoyed that..but also realized that even though i do create “almost ” everyday, i loathe to feel bound to it..what a strange way to be i guess:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think it’s too strange, really. Creativity is essentially a form of freedom in our expression. If we try to schedule it, some of the spontaneity can be lost. Over the years, I’ve learned to practice creativity within a structured framework but I know that doesn’t work for a lot of people. I hope you give the 100-Day Project a go. Even if you skip a day here and there… who’s really counting? That’s my attitude about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t do Instagram either. I don’t “sign up” at the website or share my project except for what I post here on the blog. To me, it’s very much a personal thing. I’m doing it for me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your 100 days! I’m on day 348 of my daily blogging, almost to my goal of 1 year. This daily routine has been a joy, and surprisingly, I haven’t run out of material yet. My inspiration was Neil Pasricha and his wonderful books, 1000 Awesome Things and You Are Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

I'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s