100 Days of Colorful Songs

100 Days of Colorful Songs

Team

Solo Project

Duration

100 Days

Context

Design Principles and Practices taught by Brett Yasko

Tools

Watercolors, brushes, white gel pen, black sharpie, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Illustrator

Repeat one chosen design process every day for 100 days.

Choosing a Design Process

I found this prompt especially exciting, but I was daunted by the wide range of possibilities it opened up.

I knew I wanted to chose a design skill that I wasn't super comfortable with, as I wanted to expand my skillset.  One medium that I'd always wanted to explore more deeply was watercolors - so this project seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the plunge into them.  When I thought about a subject that would be enjoyable to focus on for such a long time, I decided I wanted to center the project around either music or books. 

The thing I love more than anything is music.  Before college, I spent most of my time in music-related activities, particularly in choirs and musical theater.  In fact, there were some days where I would be singing for up to 11 hours in total!  Music is, I think, the best way to understand a person's true essence.  When I listen to music, I entirely invest myself in the song.  I also feel like melodies, and the emotions contained within them, are profoundly connected to color.  While I don't have full synesthesia, I do still attribute colors to music, language, and emotion.  Watercolors uniquely allow for explorations of color through layering so it seemed the perfect medium to portray interpretations of some of my favorite songs.

I chose to do abstract paintings, with each piece representing one song which I would listen to (on repeat) while painting.  I am stronger with color than I am with creating form through drawing, and I wanted to avoid creating scenes as they would likely be reflective of the songs lyrics, but not necessarily the music itself.  When looking at music on my computer and phone, I noted that the square album covers reminded me of the squares in a quilt.  I wanted to create watercolor paintings that were the same sized each day, so I could "sew" them into a digital quilt at the end of the 100 days.

Doing the Design Process

I loved doing the watercolors, and found them to be a comforting and calming activity to wind down with at the end of the day.  I allowed myself to get lost in the songs and the painting, and sometimes spent an hour or more creating each square.  The project is filled with more than just layers of colors - I poured my heart and soul into it.  Most of the songs I used mean a great deal to me and are linked to pivotal moments in my life.  I look to much of this music to keep me going when things get hard.

The Results

As I finished each watercolor, I posted them on an instagram page as the format of square photos suited my compositions well.  It was encouraging to see the progression of the squares over the 100 days.  As time went on, I became more confident in my control of colors which allowed me to experiment with more unusual compositions.  A surprising observation I noted was that the paintings at the end of the project utilize more white space and less paint than the earlier compositions.  At first I felt the need to cover the entirety of the 4x4" square, but as I grew more confident, I was less scared of leaving parts of the surface exposed.  To present my finished product, I created a website so I could pair the paintings with their respective songs and allow my audience to "listen to the painting" more readily.  The link to the website is https://mhcagan.wixsite.com/100days.  Below you can see how my skills progressed.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Rhiannon
Stairway to Heaven

Song #1

Sunday, Bloody SundayU2
00:00 / 04:42

Song #49

RhiannonFleetwood Mac
00:00 / 03:47

Song #92

Stairway To HeavenLed Zeppelin
00:00 / 08:03

Some of My Favorites

Landslide
Wait for Me
Morning Glow
LandslideFleetwood Mac
00:00 / 03:18
Wait for MeHadestown
00:00 / 03:35
Morning GlowPippin
00:00 / 04:16
Gravity
Take Me to ChurchHozier
00:00 / 04:02
GravitySara Bareilles
00:00 / 03:54
Eleanor RigbyThe Beatles
00:00 / 02:10

See full project here