Get ready for an absolute FEAST of art right now!

Last week I ran a seven day art challenge. It was shorter in length than any challenge I’ve seen yet, but that was intentional.

As soon as the idea popped into my head, I could see that it provided the potential to achieve things that felt important and relevant to all of us. A possible way to bridge that mysterious gap between what we want and what is actually happening regarding our art.

It would offer:

  • Doability: One week is short enough to commit to without getting in too much of a panic about ‘keeping up’, and how busy you are.
  • Exploration: At the same time it felt like just enough time to see the benefits of a single focus – in our case, creating a small series – with enough wiggle room to let it evolve as it wanted to.
  • Cohesiveness: Many of us struggle with Shiny New Thing Syndrome while wishing our art was more cohesive. A week significantly reduces the amount of time in which to get bored with sticking to one topic!
  • Potential: I could see it carried the possibility of allowing us to surprise ourselves. I had a hunch we could in fact make more art, more often, as we wished to, and this experiment could prove that it was not just possible but easier than we might have told ourselves.
  • Development: Having a container of a week long, supported, focused challenge created a safe space to explore, discover personal likes and dislikes, and even perhaps generate ideas we’d like to carry forward.

 

Could such a short challenge really offer all this?! As it turns out, yes!

Below is a selection of the fantastic art made during the week of the challenge, with some insights from participants as to what the experience brought them. It was so successful for so many, I’m considering making this an annual event, if you’re interested. Let me know in the comments!

For me this project brought more insights than I can either include or articulate. My work has already been quite consistent this year, so for me it was an opportunity to explore something I’ve always been interested in but never really got round to investigating fully – blending figures with landscapes.

As it turned out, I couldn’t get it to work in quite the way I wanted, and am not sure I’m interested enough to keep trying right now, but it felt good to work with my first love of figurative art after months of abstract, and I opened some doors in myself in very unforeseen but growth-inducing ways. So it was good!

Here’s my series, in all it’s somewhat erratic glory:

And now, enjoy some of the incredible participant work!

 

Ksenia Artemenko {Ukraine}

Find her on: Facebook and her blog
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“This challenge has allowed me to understand that making art every day [can be] simple and fast. I was able to overcome the fear of a new style, and I found out that abstraction is freedom from the inner critic and routine as well as the search for my own vision of the things.

 

Sophie Kerdellant {France}

Find her on: her blog

“I enjoyed painting this mini series and I will certainly keep going. The next stage will be to work on canvases with some more texture. The experience taught me that simplicity is the key along with contour drawing. I also learned that I definitely have to trust my intuition/my inner voice/the painting itself and listen to what they are saying to me.

 

Jo Chorlton

Find her on: her blog

“It’s been really inspiring! I set out trying to explore the idea of free spirit, but I found I was actually getting tighter and less free as the days passed. My little boy inspired me by his just choosing colours he liked and his very early mark making. I need to return to freer movement and choice!

Jing Su

“I got bored on day 4, but when I finished it, I got inspired. I had fun on day 5 & 6, then felt bored again on 7. But on day 7, I am able to draw the boy without checking my reference. I also feel the fluency of using my tools, just picked them up and combined them without hesitation.

Coherence contains some level of repetition, and repetition creates resistance. So this mini challenge was for me more like a practice to ignore the resistance and look at the bright side of repetition.

I’ve discovered from this challenge that the only coherence in my work would be the idea of every subject needing to have their own character and emotion, even it’s a repeated image.

What a gain! :D

Because of this challenge, I found a purpose in making my next series.”

 

Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Find her on: her blog

“When I started this challenge I wanted to try a different approach to painting as I was beginning to feel complacent. I wanted to shake thing up a bit. And this daily practice has certainly done that! What I have tried and the ideas this challenge has inspired in me I plan to continue with my studio work, so I am very happy to have taken part.”

 

Jennifer Edwards

Find her on: her blog {and here’s a post about the challenge}

“I have an ongoing daily practice of making art. I work in small increments of time already, making drawings and paintings in my sketchbook or knitting and crocheting garments and gifts. But I wanted to use your 7-day Mini Painting Challenge to see if I could, for a short burst of time (only a week, right?) devote myself to working my typically drawn and painted images, into fibers!

I knew that it would require more time out of my day, but I SO wanted to see if I could do it. I’ve had lots of questions over the years about how I could translate drawings into fiber works. This challenge has answered it completely….a resounding YES! Thank you for spurring me to take up the challenge!”

Shalagh Hogan

Find her on: her blog

“By my own definition, I am a creative. Prioritizing creativity daily felt like permission to come home and be me. I filled in the lack, the gaps, and established a trust with myself I was lacking. I can say “I am an artist” now and know it’s true. Sometimes we just need a little push, company, and accountability. I got all of those things and more.”

 

Gina Axlund

Find her on: Facebook

“During this week I have discovered a new side of my creative life: I can plan what to paint. The process is still very intuitive but I can control it in a way i didn’t know I could do before. When the high expectations of “painting on a canvas” disappeared I could be more relaxed and that made things simpler. AND that lead to me being able to be more consistent I’m my work.”

Andy Getch

Find him on: his website

“The exercise illuminated pure joy, painting or drawing something I love to develop a series based on a theme. Adding a variation of media, angle or technique made each day feel fresh and gave me ideas about where to go next.

 

Liz O’Keefe

“I found it so freeing to be able to push through the barriers that I encountered during these 7 days because the goal of being creative and making space for artistic expression was so strong.”

 

Barbara Mace

“I’ve discovered how hard it is to give myself even 10 minutes to make an image. This is even though I’ve put out materials on the kitchen table which I pass all the time. This sounds mad when I rationalise it, because when I start I enjoy it and I feel passionate and excited by ‘what happens’!

The images are spontaneous and each conveys feelings from the moment I was doing them as well as representing where I was in the process. I had a real gap over the weekend and didn’t do anything for two days (procrastinator, saboteur, inner critic demons!). So the images may seem disjointed, but they are the story of my creative process this week!”

 

Brigitte James

Find her on: her website

“I realised that if I loosen up, I CAN actually fit in art each day, or at least something I want to do by changing the way I do things with my precious time each day. It was wonderful connecting with other creative people to create a ‘buzz’.”

Ellen Stoune

“I’ve read plenty about structure and procrastination before, but the inviting way Tara presented the idea of working in a series, helped me see how I can utilize the beautiful magic of structure and how I can use it to propel my work forward.

 
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Sarah Pickering

“I did the whole seven days (over eight). It felt like a triumph to get by day four as at that point I was thinking I had no new ideas and then it occurred to me that I didn’t actually need a new idea just keep working with the movement and the colour and let it happen and it did. I’m happy with how the full set looks together and individually too.”

Kia of Sticks and Ink

Find her on: Etsy

The challenge taught me to be braver. I found when I got to the 6th day I had the courage to listen to the voice that said ‘stop now’ instead of ploughing on like I usually do. It also helped me to narrow down the directions I want to go in – although I love my hot wax batik papers I’m not a fan of slow processes, so sitting, snipping and gluing and waiting for paint to dry felt unnatural and laboured. Leading me to decide to explore my preferred method of large scale rapid gestural painting which I’ll try combing with hot wax batik next.”

***

Pretty exciting right?! Such diverse and lovely art, and all very much ‘of the artist’ in each case. I find it deeply satisfying that it can actually be this easy to do something with our art that we perhaps didn’t really believe before.

If this can be achieved in a single week, imagine what a month of focused attention could do!

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