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Creatively challenged

I love a creative challenge! Anyone that knows me or has followed me online for a while will know that I will jump on board a new creative challenge that comes along. Of course, sometimes I don’t last the course, but I’m pretty proud of myself for seeing through a number of creative challenges over the years.

Wednesday sees the start of this year’s #the100dayproject. This is the 10th year it’s been run, and it’ll be my third time taking part. The last two years I knew well in advance what I was going to do. This year I’m still thinking about a number of possible projects to work on. I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t beginning to panic about being ready to get started, but 2023 is my year to ‘get lost’ so I’m trying to be more spontaneous and just see what happens, and that applies here as well.

Last year I completed a number of creative challenges so I thought it would be good to reflect on those as I continue to explore the options I’m considering.

100 days of knitting

My finished jumper from my 100 days of knitting project

I see the 100 day project as a great way to learn a new skill, and loved expanding my cross stitch repertoire in 2021 when I undertook my first 100 day project of learning 100 different stitches – you can read more about that at 100 days, 100 stitches.

I’ve dabbled in knitting a few times over the years, including knitting a blanket a while back that I still use today, but I’d never knitted an item of clothing. For last year’s project I decided to change that and embarked on knitting myself a jumper.

I didn’t know if I’d need 100 days for this but I didn’t want to put undue pressure on myself. As it turns out, it was incredibly addictive and I made much quicker progress than I expected which meant I had some time for some experimental knitting trying out some different stitches as well as making myself a hat before the 100 days were up.

The jumper is certainly not perfect but I’m pretty impressed for my first attempt at making me something to wear. I learned a lot about knitting and in particular following knitting patterns through that project, and whilst I haven’t done any knitting since, I have a number of patterns waiting for me to work my way through.

You can see my daily progress shots over on Instagram at @ZettaStitch or by checking out the hashtag #lizettas100daysofknitting

A year with my camera

I’ve been taking photographs for as long as I can remember, but aside from some formal photography education at college and university, I’m primarily self-taught. I decided 2022 would be the year that I started learning again, and signed up for A Year With My Camera – an online course for complete beginners. I knew I wasn’t a complete beginner but I figured there was no harm in a refresher course of some of the basics of photography.

I’ll admit though that the weekly emails that come through as part of the course have sat in my inbox pretty much unread. What I did make the most of though were the challenges set to go alongside the more formal learning.

From 2012 to 2016 I took a photo everyday using my phone camera, so of course I was immediately interested in taking part in Project 365 – though this time I’d be using my camera.

Not having any rules apart from the fact I had to take a photo everyday was a great way of encouraging me to reach for my camera rather than my phone to take photos, and often the hardest part of the challenge was selecting one photo from the day to use.

Other days, especially those when I was working from home and had no reason to leave the flat, it was hard to be motivated to take my camera out, yet alone find something inspiring enough to photograph. I normally easily find something to photograph wherever I am, and early in the year on those days where I didn’t want to have to go far I could find something quite easily. As the year went on though it was harder to find something interesting in a small radius of my flat. Still, I persevered and I was pretty proud of myself on new year’s eve when I had successfully completed the challenge.

002/365 Raindrops keep falling on my head
Project 365, 2022

In August I took part in 30 days of composition. I’d just treated myself to a new camera (having been a Canon SLR user for over 20 years, I finally embarked on the mirrorless life and switched over to Fuji) so this was a perfect way to learn how to use that while I followed the daily prompts to experiment with the composition of my photos.

Some days were definitely easier than others, but it was a really fun challenge and I certainly took some photos that I was pleased with that I probably wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

01/30 Viewpoint
30 days of composition, August 2022

The first Saturday of every month saw the monthly challenge #1day12pics. Unlike the other projects, this I primarily did using my phone camera, sharing one photo from each hour (from 9am to 9pm) to capture my day as a visual diary.

On days whenI was out and about it was easy to ensure I got photos for each hour. On those lazy Saturdays which were mostly spent at home, I had to get more creative but I did find it helpful to timebox my day and ensure I didn’t spend the whole day in front of the TV.

24 hour project

Some people think I’m mad, but on 10 September I embarked on the 24 hour project for the fourth time. London was a strange place that day as it was just after the Queen had died which had brought hoards of people to the city to pay their respects.

The number of people taking part in London has definitely reduced over the years, but I joined a core group of hardy London photographers who were up for the challenge.

Every year I think of things I’ll do next time to make it easier, like coming up with a list of places to go at different times of the year to avoid having to make decisions or struggling to find somewhere where there is still life in the early hours. Every year I forget to act on those lessons.

I’m yet to sort through all my photos from the day but you can see the ones I posted throughout the day below.

I wrote more about my first two experiences of taking part in the 24 hour project a couple of years ago, when the project was cancelled due to the covid pandemic.

7:32pm I heart the Southbank
24 hour project, London, 10 September 2022

Personal challenges

For a number of years (I think since 2017) I’ve been doing two daily personal projects.

I started taking a selfie a day randomly and it quickly became a habit I’ve done ever since, culminating in a video at the end of the year. I’ve never liked being in front of the camera and this was an attempt to start putting myself in front of the camera more. I don’t smile as I don’t want to show emotion. There’s no filters. Some days I take it before I’ve put any make up on. It’s just me, warts and all.

At the same time I discovered the 1 Second Everyday app, which allows you to easily record a second of video from everyday and turns it into a chronological video. As someone with a visual memory, I love creating this video and looking back on the year as it comes to an end – I’ve never really done much with video but it does capture some moments better than a photograph.

You can check out the videos of both of these projects from 2022 below.

Selfie a day 2022
One second everyday 2022

What will 2023 have in store?

I know it’s already February (how?!) but with a new year comes plenty of opportunities for creativity and no doubt some new creative challenges.

I’m hoping that 2023 will be the year I finally crack crochet. I’m committing to having a go on a pottery wheel this year and Adam and I both going to have a go at screen printing, something I’ve dabbled in previously.

I’m on track with a self-imposed cross stitch challenge to stitch the each month’s pattern from the xStitch magazine Duodecad calendar and I’m sure I’ll do the 24 hour project again, but that’s all that’s definitely in store for now. I’m open to seeing what happens though.

What would you choose to do if you spent 100 days doing a creative challenge of your choice? Would you look to start a new habit that you’d be looking to continue beyond the 100 days? Would you use it as an opportunity to learn a new or improve an existing skill? How far out of your comfort zone would you go? Let me know in the comments what you’d do. Or if you are taking part, what are you doing for your project?

I’m going back to contemplate my options now.

One thought on “Creatively challenged

  1. Lindsay

    Love your challenges, colourful 365 and 1 sec/365 Get potting and printing, envious of those. My challenges are to grow as many edible goodies as I can and the one I repeatedly fail at…to draw every day. Going to start making clothes again. You are an inspiration ♥️

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