What Doing a 30 Day Challenge Taught Me

The past few months, have been going through an ongoing creative block. There have been times that were hard for me to produce anything, if anything. I had blank canvases piling up. I was afraid to finish paintings in fear I wouldn’t like them. I was afraid to finish paintings in fear that I would ‘waste’ the canvases I painted on. This led me to doing something drastic.

Midnight of June 2nd, I tuned into a YouTube video that urged me to try this 30 watercolors in 30 days painting challenge called #30x30directwatercolor . After a split second considering my options, I asked myself ‘what do I have to lose’ and went on with the challenge.

This challenge suited me because the requirements were minimal and easy to follow:

*Loose watercolor, no fussing with details

*Direct painting on the surface. Little to minimal sketching or planning.

*1 piece, no matter the size every day.

 

Painting directly on my surface –  with no planning – was daunting.

 

What if I messed up my canvas?

What if I use the wrong colors?

What if I hate the painting!?!

…Regardless, I started.

I kept my work desk (relatively) clean. I kept my brushes within arm’s reach as well as my water cups filled with water every night. My paints were all on my desk, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice. No need to fumble and look for them when it was time to get started. I had a new white surface propped on my desk easel to welcome me every day as I got home from work.

That blank slate was a daily reminder I needed to get that painting done. No excuses.

All of these were measures to keep me from procrastinating and making it as easy as possible to get started. To make it a little easier for me, I had my ideal reference photo on my laptop ahead of time.

In the beginning, I had this all figured out! I started off with a 9x12inch canvas board and my first watercolor painting came out pretty well! This challenge wasn’t going to be a challenge, and I’ll be able to knock this thing out of the park, I got this!

My first direct watercolor attempt.

 

However towards the middle of the challenge I lost focus.

I went out, I came home late some days, purposely tried to skip some days. Some days I didn’t feel like painting, and others, I felt too tired to even start. I even started making excuses!

However, I was a part of the Direct Watercolor Facebook group and saw so many gorgeous entries, I needed to get back into it! I needed to get out of this funk. I wanted more and newer content for my Instagram, I needed artistic stimulation, and I needed this year to be prolific.

Some days, painting became a chore. Something I had to do, but then once I got into my flow state, it became enjoyable again.

There were times, specifically the Days 22 and 26 where I just had an awful day, and the only gift I could give myself to heal was to paint. Even though I went to bed late, I would have been disappointed if I didn’t create.

Day 26. This painting was emotional therapy for me. 🙂

 

How Did This Challenge Made Me Feel?

Now that I’ve finished a 30 day challenge, I feel like daily creation is possible, so long as I make it a priority.

I am also happy with embracing my mistakes and finally allowing experimentation and my imagination to thrive. Something like this was perfect to get me out of my art funk, as well as force me to create new artwork. Regardless of the results.

Doing these paintings as direct watercolor, with minimal to no planning and straight-up execution was very daunting at first.

Then, once I figured it out, loosened up, and let my creativity kick in, I can now have fun with my work. I told myself:

Each painting doesn’t have to have to be detailed.

Each painting doesn’t have to be perfect.

Although I missed a few days, I can easily say that 21 new watercolor paintings are complete and I’ve made more paintings in one month than I would have ever made in a year!

 

 

What Can a 30 Day Art Challenge Do For You?

 

Doing a 30 Day creative challenge can teach you so much about yourself. I learned about my best creative times. What are my creative limits, how to make the challenge of daily art making easier for myself.

Art challenges give you the discipline to draw and make daily. If you follow the challenge all the way through, sitting down to create becomes easier, and it’s even easier when you schedule a time to do it.

Completing a 30 Day art challenge can get you more familiar with your materials as well. I now have a familiarity with my favorite Qor watercolors, I used up all of my ultramarine, and my favorite brushes are now secondary limbs for me.

I can definitely say that the #30x30directwatercolorchallenge was a success this year. Hopefully I’ll do something similar next year. And if you’re going through an art funk yourself, then a challenge might be just what the doctor ordered.

Have you done an art challenge? What has it done for you?

Share with your experience in the comments below! 

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