>>> This challenge was run live in September 2016. It was unexpectedly popular {see here for evidence!}, and I definitely plan to run it again in 2017. You should still be able to sign up to receive the download below, and you’ll then also be on the list to receive an email alert when I next run it. <<<

I have a question for you. Do you ever feel as though you might actually have several different artists with wildly varying ideas and skill sets living inside you?

I have felt like this a lot over the years, particularly in the early days. One day I’d be making a vibrant abstract landscape painting, the next a stylised portrait all in blues, and the day after that I might be experimenting with mixed media and lettering. You could’ve lined them all up in a gallery and convinced people that each was done by a different {and frankly not very accomplished!} artist.

I’m all for experimentation and play, but there’s another side to learning how to make your own art that I often see people struggling with, and have certainly struggled with myself:

How do you make your art consistent, so that it all looks like ‘yours’, even when you have a million ideas, want to try All The Things, and can’t seem to control what comes out of you?!

In part, there is a rather unsexy element of patience and practice that will start to bring your work together into a more cohesive whole. Persistence will inevitably reap rewards over time.

This year, eight years after I started making art regularly, is the first year I’ve seen a deep and consistent cohesiveness to my work. It was building gradually for a while, but it really has taken that long to feel it right down to my bones. So don’t be disheartened if you struggle with this!

But there are also things you can do to encourage the process along right now. One very effective way I’ve found is to create in series. I resisted series for a long time because I get bored very quickly; I rarely want to make something again after I’ve done it once.

I thought it was a flaw in me, and it’s been frustrating at times, but since accepting that it’s how I roll, I’ve noticed even more consistency creeping into my work. One of the many paradoxes art likes to bring us!

The Project

So in the spirit of diving ever more deeply into our own unique art, and with a nod to the fact that we all have busy lives and many of us share this ‘low boredom threshold’ ;), I’ve devised a quick little challenge for us to try.

One week to create a small series of paintings or drawings {or whatever it is that you love to make}. I’ll be doing it too of course; because of the short time frame I’ll be working on small squares of paper of a limited number {yet to be decided!}.

I’ve created a worksheet to help us focus; it makes a huge difference to a project when you start with some kind of specific intention or plan, and when the time frame is short that becomes even more true. The last thing we want is to choose something so vague and ambitious it overwhelms us and crushes the fun out of it.

What it will give you

The idea is that we can show ourselves that not only can we fit our art into our daily lives, but also that we can create cohesive art that reflects something of our true selves by virtue of doing several at once and seeing commonalities. By making a series, even a small one, I think it’ll be possible to see that we do each have a personal style to our art.

It’s an experiment, but one that I think might be quite revealing if we give it {and ourselves} a chance.

And if this isn’t a particular issue for you, you’ll still have a small and satisfying series at the end of the week. Perhaps even some new ideas.

It could be two paintings, it could be ten. That’ll be up to you {and I recommend keeping it as absolutely minimal and simple as you need}.

Possible ideas

You could work with just a pencil and paper and make a small series of drawings of a single subject, or you could try a limited paint palette, or build up layered mixed media pieces. You could work on a couple of large pieces or many small ones. You could explore abstract landscapes, tiny drawings of things in your home, portraits; whatever feels interesting, easy, and not too ambitious in scale!

I plan to work with a limited palette, and explore my current penchant for ‘less is more’, possibly with a drawn element, knowing I may want to make adjustments to that plan once I begin.

I recommend also working with something that either already interests you or even that you’re already working on. The point is to have a specific focus for seven days and see where it leads. Let’s make it as easy as possible!

I’ll be sharing my progress over on Instagram, using the hashtag #mycreativetouchstones, and as ever would love it if you wanted to play along!

To help us plan {in a very quick and easy way!}, I’ve created a little worksheet, which you can download by clicking the button below.

We’ll begin officially on Thursday 1st September; that’ll give you a few days to mull over ideas, fill in the worksheet and prepare your supplies so you’re ready to rock on Day 1. Then each day of that week you’ll receive an encouragement email from me to help you keep going.

I hope you’ll join me!

 

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