The 7 Day Mini Painting Series Challenge :: A video of day one

The Touchstone 7 Day Mini Painting Series challenge - video from day one

Today is the first day of a week long experiment/challenge I devised in honour of the fact that for so many of us, finding our unique artistic voice and weaving together the strands of the myriad things we want to make into something cohesive is often an ongoing frustration.

The idea was that by experimenting with creating a small series in a short period of time, it might be possible to start to uncover consistencies in our work we perhaps hadn’t seen before.

At the very least, doing a project alongside others with similar experiences, and in the safe and friendly container a challenge creates, it would be a way to explore something each of us is interested in, and dive that little bit more deeply into our own work.

How I’m approaching it

My plan was to make a series of small paintings using my current favourite materials {charcoal, Inktense blocks, Neocolors, and gesso, on paper}, and combine what I’ve been doing recently with my first love – figurative art. I wanted to see if I could generate abstract landscapes from the body, while retaining just a suggestion of the original source.

Below is a video I made of the first day’s foray into this idea! It was indeed a challenge; I am out of practice at drawing which made the drawn element part of my idea feel awkward. I also struggled to interweave the figure and the landscape in the subtle way I envisioned.

Still, it is only day one and I now have a feel for what needs more attention. I’ve created the first step on the path, and now have something to bounce off.

Not shown: the long pauses while I stepped back and listened and watched; the shriek of frustration about two thirds of the way through. :)

It’s not too late to join the challenge if you like the idea! Sign up here {scroll down to the box that says ‘join the challenge’} to start receiving the daily encouragement emails I’m sending throughout the week, and to print off the worksheet for helping you plan it.

We’re sharing our projects over on Instagram using the hashtag #mycreativetouchstones.



  • Taylor Lee says:

    I love this idea and how it turned out! I think I may try to shamelessly do something similar.

  • Cindy says:

    Wow I absolutely loved watching your process…. who would have thunk an abstract landscape out of a human figure, so fascinating… I would have never known, I love this idea, I hope one day to take your course.. Thank you for sharing :)

    • Tara says:

      Thank you Cindy! It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but too easy to make it look contrived {at least for me}, so this seemed like a good opportunity to have another go.

  • Chris says:

    I enjoyed watching your process, so thanks for sharing. I use to have a fear of mixing media, but now I’m realising the freedom it gives to create. Although don’t you worry what working with charcoal, will do to a piece? I personally love charcoal, especially the new colours they are coming up with. So easy to use! But I can never get a picture not to smudge. I found applying a spray adhesive, often ruined the piece as well.

    Do you just live with the normal wear and tear of charcoal on a piece, or do you treat it to avoid smudging? By the way, I really liked your finished picture.

  • Absolutely loved watching this. As Cindy said, watching your process was really enjoyable. I felt so happy seeing the landscape emerge!

  • This is beautiful Tara!! When I saw it in Instagram I could not see any reference to a figure!! So cool to see this evolve. Thank you for sharing your process!!

    • Tara says:

      Thank you Jen! I like that the figure wasn’t too obvious – that was kind of what I hoped for although it was hard to make it work!

  • Ksenia says:

    Wow, This is fabulous! I didn’t wait your reference was a gymnast. When I saw your work in Instagram I thought “Great!” but only when you showed the process I could see the figures of girl on it :))

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Ksenia! Love that it started to make more sense after you saw the video – perhaps I’m doing better with it than I thought!

  • Brigitte says:

    Oh my goodness, I now see where the figure comes in (like others above commented on). Yes, didn’t see it. Well, did but wasn’t sure. It’s really made me aware of how abstract one can become from a reference. There was a point where I thought, “No, stop there!” but then you kept going and it totally changed. Thanks for sharing the process. Very helpful.

    • Tara says:

      Very cool to have this confirmed Brigitte! I wanted it to be a kind of subtle weaving together but felt it hadn’t gone quite as planned! {When does it ever?!} Glad seeing the process was helpful to you.

  • Karen Baker says:

    Yes, it helps to watch the video.
    Although I now know that you are creating a landscape, I love finding a body within it.
    I will always look at landscapes in a different way.

  • Mary Radtke says:

    Thanks for the video, Tara. Really enjoyed your process, and the comments you added. Also, thanks for bringing Harry Ally to my attention; really love his Nuit series. I have a lovely tin of hardly used Inktense blocks that I’m going to dive into over the weekend, thanks to your inspiration. I have to say that I really love the color palette that you used here also. Technical question: Do you use a spray fixative on your mixed media pieces? I never know quite what to do when combining media like this.

    • Tara says:

      Thank you Mary! I do use fixative, although I have never found it to be 100% secure. I just hold it about an arm’s length away with the painting on the floor and lightly mist it a few times. The distance prevents the colours being altered or splodges forming. It gives the charcoal a bit more ‘stick’, although pieces still need to be handled carefully.

  • Deborah says:

    Amazing!!! I also so enjoyed watching your process and finished abstract landscape was beautiful. Love It!!! I can’t wait to try something similar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *