I know, I know, it's Wednesday, but this week's Tuesday's Tips was too good for me to miss just because I was too sick to post it yesterday! I'm operating off the theory that you'll all forgive me.
Continuing in the topic of inspiration I wanted to talk a little bit about how participating in challenges can be inspiring. I have more I want to say on the topic, but to start us off I've interviewed a friend of mine who's participating in challenge that I really admire! So come meet artist Arlene of Spirit Essence Art :)
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the 100 in 100 challenge you've been doing?
Sure, be glad to! It all started by my needing some extra incentive and inspiration to start creating more, especially after I lost my job and was home with time to create. I happened upon a site called www.CreativeEveryDay.com and loved the idea behind it, which was a challenge to do something creative every day. The site owner, Leah, provided a place for all participants to “check in” on a weekly basis and post about what we have done for the week, and to read other artists’ comments and look at their blog posts.
This is how I found the 100 in 100 Challenge because Rowena of www.warriorgirl.blogspot.com is one of the Creative Every Day participants. I saw that she was just starting her own challenge to provide herself extra incentive to continue to create.
The idea is to create 100 paintings, drawings, art journal entries, or whatever creative activity you want to do more of – in 100 days! Part of me didn’t want to commit to yet another activity, and I almost dismissed it. However, I think deep down inside of myself, that “higher” part of me kept pushing me to join in. It was almost an involuntary act, putting my name and blog address down! I laugh now to think of it! I am so glad I did, though, and that I have blogged about it and announced it so that it will be so uncomfortable NOT to complete that it pushes me to keep up with it.
2. What's been the hardest part?
For me, the hardest part has been (and still is sometimes), sitting down to do a painting every day even if I really don’t feel like doing it. Even more than that, deciding WHAT to paint every day! This has always been my challenge. Even when I have lots of ideas, trying to decide where to start is difficult for me. Either there are too many choices, or my mind goes blank and I simply do not come up with a single idea that turns me on at that moment. Keeping it interesting and varied has to be the key for me, so that I don’t get bored, which I can experience fairly easily if I find myself doing the same things over and over.
3. How have you seen yourself grow as an artist through doing this?
It’s been kind of amazing, actually. I have done things I would have never thought possible: paint portraits (including self portraits!), draw figures, create miniature paintings (ACEO’s), paint animals, paint spontaneously and abstractly, having no idea of what I would end up with when I first put paintbrush to paper.
I have also seen a growing ability to push through blocks much more readily, and to actually dare to paint more without fear of creating something really ugly or not “good enough”. I know that sounds funny, but that has stopped me on more than one occasion from continuing on a painting that halfway through looks really awful to me, and giving myself permission to finish it anyway.
The fact that I have committed to creating a painting every day, pushes me to do SOMETHING. I realize that I don’t have to show anyone what I have done, if I choose not to. Just the act of painting so frequently has helped me expand my skills and self confidence in what I am able to do. Practice truly makes “perfect”, or certainly BETTER.
4. What do you do on the days where you have NO IDEA what to do?
Often what works for me is to do a technique where I just start on a page with a scribble in pencil or permanent ink pen, and then fill in shapes with color, looking to see what emerges. Most of the time this works well and I like the results a lot, though sometimes the product is not so much a “piece of art” but a freeing of my stuck energy, which then leads to being able to create something that flows better.
Other times I have done a project that uses different media, like pen and ink or collage or some mixed media art journal pages. One of my favorite paintings so far started out with a thick coating of gesso which was then “smooshed” around with a piece of plastic wrap to create some interesting shapes and textures. Once dry, the texture that appeared suggested some interesting fantasy shapes and “creatures”.
I have also learned that occasionally I need to just take a break and give myself some leeway. Making a conscious choice to take a day off can be the best, most refreshing thing I can do for myself. Though my “work” is a labor of love, everyone needs some time off to do something for themselves on a regular basis. Usually I have found that whenever I have done this, I am excited to get back to my studio to create some more, and have lots and lots of ideas.
5. Anything else you want to share?
By doing some of these techniques to unblock myself, I have more and more given myself permission to just play in the studio rather than feeling like I have to PRODUCE something that will be a great work of art or that is worth something in a marketing sense. Being able to create just for the sheer joy of creating and expressing myself, frees me tremendously.
One other thing I have noticed very often is that when I get part of the way into a painting or project, I often think it is just awful and that it’s just not “working.” When this happens I find that if I persist, or walk away from it for a while and return to complete it later on, I am very often thrilled with the result. Additionally, I usually find that when I put a completed painting away for 24 hours or more, and revisit it, I have a totally different perspective on it. In fact it often looks better than I remembered it! My take on this is that sometimes we, as artists, can get too close to our projects while they are in progress. A little distance and perspective on it can make a world of difference.
Thank you Arlene for sharing with us about your creative journey through this challenge!
To all my readers - Think 100 in 100 is too big of a challenge right now? That's ok! I'll be talking about some other ideas and opportunities for challenges in next weeks post :)