Whether it's the former teacher in me, or the desire to be a lifelong student, I love a good assignment. I like to give myself challenges to work through ideas and to keep myself accountable. A while ago, I decided to do 100 small black and white studies.
I cut 100 5x7" pieces of watercolor paper and worked on 8 at a time on my table because that was the number that comfortably fit. Some came together quickly, others took quite a bit of reworking. When I felt that one was finished, I moved it on and put a new one in its place.
I tried to stay loose and experimental with them, not doing too much judging, just taking them to a point where they felt done. I like seeing them all in a grid together. One of the most valuable lessons for me was that it took doing 100 to get about 10 I really like. A good reminder that the more I paint, the better the odds I'll get some paintings I like.
I set a few parameters for my assignment. I worked with black, white, and neutral paints. I collaged on some. And I used any tool I have for marks and texture, as long as it was black or white.
I've really been enjoying going back through them now because they contain all sorts of bits and ideas I can incorporate into paintings. They also help me see my recurring marks and compositions. Going through the pile of them, I can easily spot what works for me and what doesn't. I may do this type of assignment again, with different parameters, to loosen up and experiment more. It really takes the pressure off to work in bulk like this without all the focus on completing one polished painting.