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Growing as an Artist with an Art Challenge

The video above shows all 100 hearts I created during #The100DayProject.

Why Do An Art Challenge? Who has the time in their busy life for one more project, one more task, right? The thought of having to sit down at the end of a long day and create something is a little overwhelming. When I first considered doing #The100DayProject I knew that it would force me to make time for art every day. Am I ready for that? At the time, I was still struggling to find my style as an artist. I had taken many art classes. I had experimented with many different techniques and read a number of books. But the truth is I wasn’t committing to anything. I wanted to find something that came instinctively, that just flowed organically, void of the struggle. One of the biggest lessons the Art Challenge taught me was that I simply hadn’t put in enough time and created enough paintings to allow my style to reveal itself. I had heard that an artist needs to create at least 100 paintings before they see their style develop, but with my unfocused approach to painting the idea of 100 paintings seemed unrealistic.

Day One

I was afraid to start the challenge. I thought for sure I would fail even though I kept my art to a small 6x6 inch painting a day. I tightened up my bootstraps and got to work. I wish I could say that after the first couple of weeks everything was going great and it was all falling into place. But at five weeks in it was taking everything I had to keep it up. To be honest though, I did have to skip a few days here and there because life happens, kids, sports, working late at the office, etc. But I still kept to the task of creating 100 pieces…it just took me a few days longer to complete it and that’s totally okay.

The Turning Point

On day 78 I wrote in my journal that I was 'so over this (100 Day) project.' On Day 80 I wrote “I want my natural process to come out so I don’t feel like I’m fighting against myself. I want it to come naturally.” The next day I wrote “I wish I could find my own way and my own style.” On Day 85 I had a conversation with my boyfriend telling him “I feel like I’m painting the same painting over and over." I told him I felt that the last five or six paintings all look the same to me, just different colors with a slightly different twist.” I was feeling very frustrated by this! Then finally, on Day 98 I found myself commenting on how much I liked what I had created in the last few weeks. Though they were all somewhat similar, I realized that the very thing I had been complaining about was actually what I was wishing for all along. My style was starting to shine through.

Other Valuable Lessons

Another lesson that I came away with is that when I simply show up something will happen even when I didn’t ‘feel’ like painting. The saying is true that a professional artist shows up and does the work while an amateur waits until they ‘feel’ it. I used to put off painting until I was in the mood, but now I’ve trained myself to go into the studio and just do something, anything and that usually leads to doing more. I also had a habit of setting aside a painting that wasn’t cooperating or coming together as I had hoped. But through the disciple I gained through the art challenge I’ve learned I can work with whatever presents itself, I just need to be patient and continue. And lastly, I’ve learned to be more open to the process of painting. Discovery, experimentation and making mistakes forces me to take a new direction in my painting that I wouldn't otherwise have tried. By adding just one mark, one brushstroke or one new color I give myself opportunities to build on each new element that appears.

The Bounty

Not only did this Art Challenge allow me to develop the habit of creating every day, I also had a bunch of finished paintings when I was done. How cool is that? During my #100DaysofHearts Challenge in 2016, I ended up with about 40 paintings I really loved and I'm still getting mileage out of those pieces today. Last year during my #28daysofhearts challenge, I created 14 pieces that I was really happy with. I consider that a pretty good outcome. I've also identified subjects that could potentially become a series in the future

Participating in these Art Challenges was a turning point in my own art journey and helped me better define my style as an Artist. If you have the desire to grow as an Artist and you’re willing to make the commitment, consider an Art Challenge a solid path to that goal.

Share your experience in the comments below and let me know what you learned by participating in a challenge.

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