Death Disco Heartbeat at Q Loft in Auckland. By Lara Chisholm.

B  E  C  A  U  S  E 

I hope you’re doing the 100 day project or are following someone who’s doing one. If you’ve chosen a project close to your heart, you probably have a pretty clear reason why you’re practising every day. You will be hoping to see improvements in your skills over time, you’ll want to feel satisfied that you’re creating a collection, and you’ll expect that your project will develop its own narrative over time because projects like these are kinda epic.

But know this: it's only after your project is complete that the answer to the question “Why am I doing this?” will be revealed.

This is what I have realised: your project is like a giant gift you wrap for yourself, which you will receive numerous times as the years pass. And if you do it more than once, you will tear the paper off again and again. There are other apt metaphors: a map with treasure buried all over the place, a garden you sow with wildflower seeds, only you’re not entirely sure which colour they’ll be. My 100 day projects have been like that, especially the ones that really mattered to me, the ones I took on because I really needed connection, love, something more in my life.

Amanda Billing with a Nikon DSLR

#intomeandsee (2016) was a portrait photography project which morphed into a part-time job and through which I discovered a long-dormant love of dance. One of my favourite things to do now is photograph artists. I have a great time and I get paid. Sometimes pictures like the one at the beginning of this piece pop back up and I’m reminded of what my 100 day project gave me: free tickets to dress rehearsals where I'm the only one in audience (well, the only one on the floor). I have the whole show to myself. And because I have a zoom lens, I can be so close.

Lara Chisholm, Harry McNaughton, and Chris Parker in Mia Blonde by Dynamotion

#underpaintinginmyunderwear (2017) was a project where I said I would paint something every day for a hundred days. Very early on in the project I found a space in a studio, an incredible stroke of luck. It was only a ten-minute bike ride away from my home. All I had to do was wash my brushes and lock the door after I left; no working on my dining table or packing up the lounge every evening. I was doing night classes at Browne School at the same time, so painting became a huge part of my life after having been absent since I was seventeen. It was an intense, solitary, beautiful time. I even sold a painting to someone (who wasn’t a family member).

Small Tondo by Amanda Billing in her 2017 100 Day Project

Last year I took another step towards taking creativity seriously by enrolling in the year-long part-time painting course at my beloved Browne. Despite the disruption to our 2020 studies, I painted loads and began to see a style emerge. My visual signature. My voice on a wall. I start my second year-long course next week on February 11th; I can’t wait to see what I have to say.

The other projects I began but didn’t finish have seeded some small but important things: 

#herhandsomeprints (2018) yielded the design that comes closest to being my “brand”, FORCE MAJEURE. 

#amandafabrica (2019) led me to begin experimenting with bleach on fabric. This led to my first collaboration with musician friends Her Own Medicine, my first “collection” for my first exhibition with my friends at Studio Six

#watercolourconversation, the project I did during Lockdown Level 4 in 2020, effectively outed me as a would-be illustrator and brought me face to face with more unfinished artistic business: DRAWING. The success of The Kiss gave me confidence and the motivation I needed to finally finish my website so that I could close the gap between making something and making it available.

Force Majeure tote by Amanda Billing

Last year’s illustration project has turned up on my doorstep again, this time wrapped in patterns I’m designing myself. It's called #ADOBEDAZE. I’m using Photoshop, Fresco, and Capture on my iPad, and there’s so much I don’t know. Instead of picking up pencil, paper, and paint, I have to learn the digital pathways (and shortcuts) to putting colours on a palette, sharpening my coloured pencils, and making collage. It’s a lot. I find confusion confronting but I remind myself this is good. I know I’m not “old” but I was born in an analog age. Despite my nostalgia, I’m learning new digital tricks. This can only serve me well as I grow older and live longer in the 21st Century.



My new friend James has been involved in New Zealand’s fine art and design worlds since the 1970s and he and his partner asked if they could see my work. I felt incredibly vulnerable as I stood in their lounge last week, holding Maeve, waiting for bad/good/indifferent news. (It was good news.) He said,

“As artists, we’re lucky: we never get old.”

He and I have birth dates decades apart but feel like we were born yesterday. We stay young by trying new things and staying curious. We've experienced the shedding of our creative skin over and over again. One Hundred Day projects do this to everyone, not just the “arty” ones. 

WHY do a project? 

In a way, the best projects are the ones you can't explain. All you know is that, this year, you can't NOT. Initially you'll be in it because you’re really curious about (insert cute hobby here). Because you want to pay your respects to your forebears. Because it’s about time you did something that’s actually challenging rather than just making drama in your life. Because your inner child is sick of your shit. Because self-direction, adaptability, and resilience are what you’re going to need this century, so you'd better start practising

If you’ve begun the project this week, don’t spend too much time thinking about why you’re doing it. Save that for Day 101. Just stick to the plan.

And if all else fails, remember this:

unicorn van meme 



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