Today, I want to talk about personal art challenges.
I have three points to address: What is a personal art challenge, why they’re important, and how to choose one.
Let’s get started.
Personal Art Challenges
What Are They?
A personal art challenge is just what the name suggests. You personally challenge yourself to do some art-related thing for a specific period of time.
What’s the Purpose?
The purpose behind a personal art challenge varies from artist to artist. In my experience, challenges like this also vary from situation to situation.
For instance, a few years ago, I wanted to learn plein air drawing, but I couldn’t seem to make myself do it. So that fall, I gave myself a challenge to get outside and draw regularly. I did that for a couple of years, sometimes for one month, sometimes for two. That was one personal art challenge.
Last year, after months of stagnation on more “serious” drawing, I decided to sketch. One sketch a day six days a week. Any subject, any paper, any colored pencils (or only one color.) I also decided to make each sketch 4 x 6 inches, which removed that decision from the table.
In other words, I kept this personal art challenge simple.
Both challenges resulted in a body of work that’s not exhibit-worthy, but that stretched me in one way or another. The Sketching Habit also demonstrated how much improvement is possible with as little as fifteen or twenty minutes a day sketching.
Art challenges are also a good way to motivate yourself to learn a new medium, a new technique, or explore new subjects.
How to Choose (or Design) One
The first thing to do is decide whether or not you need a personal art challenge, or if goal setting is better. There is a difference.
Goal setting is the best option if drawing time is effortless. When you’re making art regularly and just need a target to aim for, then set a goal. I talk more about that in this post, so I won’t go into detail here.
If you’re struggling to make art, however, then a personal art challenge is probably better.
So what do I mean by “struggling”? Let me share a few of my struggles.
- I can’t finish anything
- Drawing is a bore
- I can’t seem to make time to draw
- There’s no joy in drawing; it’s a chore
Those are just four of my struggles over the last couple of years. I have reasons for thinking I reached this point in my art journey, and perhaps I’ll talk about them at a later date. Suffice it to say it was getting increasingly easy to let each day end without having put pencil to paper at all.
Since I wasn’t making art on a regular basis, a goal wasn’t the answer. I’d set goals for each of the last two years and didn’t meet them.
So a personal art challenge was the answer.
I set a personal art challenge on July 3, 2021 and more than met it by the end of the year. It put some joy back into drawing. It also revealed a subject I loved to draw but had forgotten about (trees and branches.) The best part is that by the end of the year, I saw definite improvement in the way I drew and in the results. Win-win-win.
Do I Recommend Personal Art Challenges?
There are times when a personal art challenge is a good idea. As I mentioned above, I spent a lot of the last two years struggling with making art. A personal art challenge was exactly the right thing for me.
If drawing has gotten stale for you, or if you just don’t know what to draw, then a personal art challenge is a good idea. Even if it’s short-term, say a month or two, it may be exactly the kick-start you need.
But if you’re in the groove every time you pick up a pencil and start drawing, then you don’t need a personal art challenge. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine.
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