Things I Learned Doodling a Song Every Day for 100 Days

It was January 4, the first work day of 2016, I decided kick off my own 100 days project and post my work on Instagram. I told myself: Hey, no pressure. Just try it…and if it’s too hard I can always quietly disappear in Instagram…and no one will ever notice.

With this shady thought, I started my 100 days journey. Here are 3 things I learned from this project.

Pick a Topic that You are Passionate about.

so you will never run out of ideas :)

The only thing I knew when I decided to start my project was, I will doodle something every day. What should I draw? I don’t know 😨

Luckily, this happened later.

Day 1. No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley

I was playing pool with two cool girls and I played “No woman, no cry” by Bob Marley. One girl made fun of me: “You love stoner music!” I didn’t know the meaning of stoner music by then so my immediate thought was: stoner? stone? the Flintstones? am I that old because I listen to Bob Marley?

Then I have this picture stuck in my head: a girl from the Flintstones listening to Bob Marley. This became my first doodle.

Aha! Problem solved. I will draw a song every day for 100 days.

I love listening to music. I could ensure you that in my everyday life, I’m either having earbuds in my ears or going to put them on. The only thing I need to do is simply picking a song(based on my mood or the lyrics, or let the player shuffle and I will draw the first one that catches my ears :p )!

Left: Dying in the Sun by The Cranberries. I found out that my lucky bamboo was dead. Right: So Cold in Ireland by The Cranberries. It was FREEZING that day!!!!

Be Imaginative! Do Brainstorming

It didn’t take too long for me to realize I was too young and sometimes naive that I thought “Problem solved. I will draw a song every day for 100 days.” Let’s say, I know that today I want to draw the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol…So What?! What exactly should I draw!!?? 😨

Since I spend most of the time trying to concretize a song (it can be relatively abstract) instead of focusing on the drawing process, I set up my goal: It’s not about improving my painting skill; What I want to achieve is practicing how to visualize literal materials. (Of course, it’s entertaining to recommend a song every day)

After 100 days of exploring, I summarize 3 main ways to brainstorm ideas around a given topic(in this case, song):

  • Does this song tell a story? Some songs are already visually descriptive so the easiest way to visualize a song is literally visualizing it using a concrete form. For example, in Chasing Cars, the lyric goes like: “All that I am, all that I ever was, is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see.” It’s not hard to imagine a sweet couple looking into each others eyes; they are so close that they can see their reflections.
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
  • Does this song tell MY story? I feel it’s getting harder for me to express my emotions: both my ability to use language and my willingness to communicate are fading away. Therefore I always pay a close attention to the lyrics when listening to a song and hope it could be my voice. In the song Tenderness by Mayday, the singer keeps singing, “It’s my tenderness to let you have your freedom.” It made me to think of my little cat: She is always curious about the outside world so she try to bolt out of my apartment if she gets the chance. It freaks me out every time but I start to think, is it right for me to keep her as my pet? Should I give her the freedom she wants? I want to walk around with her without worrying she would leave me…that how I came up with this doodle:
温柔 Tenderness by 五月天May Day.
  • Does this song remind me of anything? What was the context where I first heard this song? What I was doing when I heard it? Was it from a movie? Was this song recommended by someone else? Asking myself all these (random?) questions helps opening up my mind. I remember I heard Hero by Regina Spektor from the movie 500 days of summer and the “Expectation vs Reality” scene blowed my mind. I was a little upset on day43 so I decided to draw my own expectation vs reality.
Clip from 500 Days of Summer.

Be a Grown up; Keep your Promise!

I don’t want to turn this section into a “chicken soup for the soul” so I will keep it short: 100 days project is an experiment to see whether I’m able to keep a promise to myself. (I can’t believe that) I made it.

I have to admit that I was tempted to start my 100 days project a really long time ago after seeing amazing works by Tiantian Xu, Yingying Zhang and all other talented people. I didn’t start until Jan 4 because I guess my procrastination stopped me and it scared me that I have to be serious about this commitment. It was really hard at the beginning, as you could imagine, to develop a new habit; also, at the day75, I suddenly realized oh crap I still have 1/4 more to go!!

However I told myself…

“It gets easier. Everyday it gets a litter easier. But you gotta do it everyday. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” — Bojack Horseman, S02E12.

This is my 100 days project:

I’m grateful for all the help and encouragement from my friends and even strangers. It has been fun. So see you next 100 days :) I’m drawing everything about World of Warcraft.

You can find my work @Instagram.