2024 Art Challenge! YOU are invited!

As always, at the end of the year, I am looking at my progress and revising and reviewing my resolutions from the last year to see what I've been able to accomplish. There have been ups and downs in my achievements; I mostly did okay, but there is one resolution that I mainly failed: making more art. I made very few artworks and had even fewer experiments with colors and media. I hoped to spend any extra time on those things, but as it turns out, there is no “extra” time; art time must be reserved and guarded. I did try to sign up for workshops, and classes, and participate in art challenges to make sure I continue building my skills, but it was only partially successful (some painting opportunities were great and gave me ideas and confidence, while others burdened me more than inspired). Formal classes usually focus on one major subject and medium for the entire duration (e.g., painting figures with oil paints or drawing still lifes with charcoal, etc.) and do not allow for much improvisation. Workshops are usually brief, and their quality varies, which for me means random, not guaranteed, progress. Thirty-day challenges can be inspiring and exciting, but it’s a sprint that requires significant daily time commitment, which is not always possible in real life (my personal record is 8 consecutive days); very few people go strong for all 30 days. 

I decided that there was time for some change if I ever wanted to make real progress. I'm trying something new, something that I hope can help boost my inspiration and growth and will help me continue finding my own painting and drawing style. In 2024, I would like to put art-making a bit higher on my list of priorities. I've come to realize that setting aside time for art is essential. It shouldn't be leftover time from other activities, but rather somewhere in the middle. Although it may not be the number one priority, as we all have many things to do every day, it shouldn't be the last thing on the list either. For those of us who want to grow as artists and develop our own personal style, we need to create art regularly and practice.

To make this challenge sustainable and potentially successful, I came up with some basic parameters (they are too loose to be called rules):

1) Make art consitently, at least one hour per week (in one sitting or several shorter ones);

2) Use mixed media or just dry media if time is limited;

3) Prioritize frequent and shorter painting/drawing sessions instead of rare and longer ones;

4) Set specific goals each week to continue building specific skills (e.g. “practice separating foreground and background in a landscape”, “practice drawing facial expressions”, etc.);

5) Focus on experiments and new ideas vs. sticking to one approach or style;

6) Alternate quantity and quality (i.e. focus on both thoughtful, slow art making and quick practice sketching);

7) Use photo references or items found at home as painting subjects (outdoor painting is ideal, but not mandatory).

At first, I developed this challenge purely for myself, but I'm inviting anyone who feels the same and has similar goals!

I will share my mini goals and four of my reference images every Monday, and if you would like to participate, you can use one of those references to create your artwork. This artwork could be a drawing, a painting, mixed media art, or anything else, such as collage or even embroidery, depending on your interests and inspiration. The goal is to select an image, either in its entirety or just a part of it and create an artwork. Of course, you don't have to stick with one of the four suggested images. If something you saw in the images inspired you to seek something else and made you want to paint something different, that's great. If you make it your own and create an artwork, it’s progress. Use the references as inspiration and a starting point.

 Here are specific details:

1. I will share my references every Monday on Instagram (@poemsaboutyoushop). Each of the four references will have a different subject (portrait, landscape, cityscape, still life, human figure(s), animal(s), etc.), so you can select the one (or more) that inspires you most or pick your own image.

2. Goals are established each week to help keep focus on learning and growth. They can be about finding likeness or using a brighter (or more subtle) color palette, or trying a combination of different media (e.g. watercolors and colored pencils, etc.). Feel free to set your own goals based on your current interests or use mine if they resonate with you!

3. Try to spend some of your art time out of your comfort zone to generate new ideas and to find your own unique artistic voice. Prioritize experiments and new ideas vs. sticking with familiar methods or styles.

4. Share your progress using the hashtag #poemsaboutyou_challenge. If you want to discuss your WIPs, ask fo feedback, or share painting tips, join the community of like-minded artists on Twitter (X): Watercolor Journey.

As I mentioned above, feel free to try this challenge for just a few weeks or a whole year.I hope you give it a try!