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 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’, 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.

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! I’ve also discovered that the flip side of the repetitiveness of a series is the opportunity to go deep and long with a subject, which tends to be more fulfilling and interesting than the more surface scattergun approach.

And so I devised a challenge. It has now run twice, with some phenomenal outcomes for people, including an idea for a year long project, renewed passion and excitement, personal discoveries, and some truly beautiful series. Now it’s back, and I hope you’ll join us!

“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.”

Shalagh Hogan

What

Seven days to create art with a single focus. Got something you’ve been wanting to explore a bit more deeply? This is the perfect opportunity.

The challenge is open to all visual artists – you can paint, draw, knit, sculpt, sew, make jewellery, or whatever you like. I recommend keeping the concept and process fairly small so you don’t overwhelm yourself or make it impossible to keep going.

I’ve created a free worksheet you can download to help you decide on your 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.

 

 

I also suggest 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!

When

We’ll begin officially on Thursday 5th April; that’ll give you a few days to mull over ideas, share about it on Instagram if you like, 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.

Where

Mainly on Instagram, where we use the hashtag #mycreativetouchstones to find each other.

However, last year those not on Instagram joined in in my private Facebook group for Artnote subscribers and course alumni. If you’d like to join that group, you can subscribe here, or via any of the sign up boxes on this website {without obligation}.

How

  1. {Optional} Sign up in the box at the bottom of this post to receive the daily emails {this is also the sign up box to hear about Touchstone, however there’s no obligation}
  2. Download the worksheet and start percolating ideas
  3. Fill it in when you’re ready and pop your planned painting sessions into the calendar
  4. Get started on April 5th when the first email arrives!
  5. Photograph your creation each day and then come on over to Instagram to share it, using the hashtag #mycreativetouchstones
  6. Check out what others are doing, feel galvanised, and cheer each other on!

 

Hopefully I’ve covered everything here, but if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

“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.”

Sarah Pickering

I do hope you’ll join us! It turned out to be a very rich experience for many of us the past couple of years, and it’s deeply satisfying to reach the end of the seven days and survey your {perhaps first!} body of cohesive work. {See some previous examples here.} I think you’ll find it also provides proof that you already have a unique voice as an artist; it might need just a bit more focus to coax it out.

You may also be interested to know that Touchstone, my course about creating the artist life that aligns with who you are and the life you’re already leading, will reopen for registration on April 11th 2018. Signing up below enables you to receive the challenge emails and course updates without obligation.

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