14 day Challenge

14 day Challenge - student project

I have a lot of hopes riding on this class. I've done a few challenges in the past, I did a personal 30 day challenge of mini paintings and also one sort of portrait, sort of character, sort of technique challenge for Inktober, but what I learned most from these was that challenges are HARD! A lot of planning has to go into one for it to be successful, which made me wonder how artists were managing daily challenges of one subject. I've tried and failed to do more challenges, I even drew up a whole year of weekly prompts thinking that this would help, but I didn't make it past 2 weeks.

I've heard a lot about how a daily practice/challenge will improve your skills but this is the first time anyone has told me HOW that works! I would like to improve my skills in pattern making and colour use, not what we're working on here, but I will use the next 14 days to get into the rhythm of the practice so I can understand how best to mold this into what I need to grow.

Here's my preparation:

14 day Challenge - image 1 - student project

I could make a list much longer than this! I then circled all the objects I'd like to draw right away, and came up with too many, so I had to condense the list yet again to this:

14 day Challenge - image 2 - student project

I also had to condense my materials because I kept finding new ones to work with!

With all that said, here's my Day 1:

14 day Challenge - image 3 - student project

I'm now up to day 5 (which is tomorrow's sketch), here are days 2, 3 & 4:

14 day Challenge - image 4 - student project

I really appreciate that Ohn Mar struggles with this as well! Each day there's been a heavy obligatory feeling of "I have to do this today" and I'm nervous each time, but looking at the days together like this I'm starting to feel a bit of relief after I finish the sketch, a bit energized even. I really hope that continues because it's never happened before! 

I also better understand taking a break between sketching and critiquing. I've had to stop myself from jumping right into the critique and force a break, and I've been impressed with how much better I'd done than I thought! 

I do also feel that Ohn Mar's 3 min is somehow longer than mine, lol! I still feel rushed to get it all in in the 6 min time, but I did see progress in Day 4 of how much I got done!

14 day Challenge - image 5 - student project

I was really looking forward to trying out the Tombow brush pen on this lock for Day 5, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. The brush was so much looser than I expected and it was difficult to get the lines I wanted. I found my 6 min to be more frustrating because of that. I walked away for my break not pleased, but when I came back I was impressed with how much the sketches still looked like locks, even with the poor technique!

14 day Challenge - image 6 - student project

I loved working with watercolour and waterbrush for Day 6 on this shell! Aside from pencil, watercolour is my most comfortable medium. I did have trouble with some of the lines, but it was fun to go back and add just a hint of shading. I really like how these sketches turned out :)

14 day Challenge - image 7 - student project

I can't believe I'm halfway through this challenge already! When I started it seemed like such a long way and now I fell like it's almost done already! Anyway, Day 7 felt like a let-down after the success of Day 6. I wasn't feeling well and I don't think I prepared myself mentally for doing the sketch. I may have relied too heavily on my earlier success. The tea strainer comes across to me as very tight and I had to extend my timer past the 6 minutes to complete the final sketch. I'm not a huge fan of the even line in this either, but given all that, I'm impressed that I have 3 sketches of a more complicated object than I first thought. My favourite was drawing the chain. I immediately threw out the idea of drawing each link and just trying to communicate the tight loopy-ness of it instead.

14 day Challenge - image 8 - student project

Day 8 saw a return to the coloured pencil, which I did not enjoy last time. I considered using a different medium but decided to give it another try. I was still feeling off and remembered my failure to mentally prepare in Day 7. I reviewed my previous coloured pencil sketch of Day 4 and tried to think about the characteristics of the medium that I didn't enjoy, mostly because I didn't expect them. Then I did a quick review of the object with touch and sight, going over the whole thing to decide on the first angle. This object is a personal one for me because I made it almost 2 years ago! It was my first book-binding project and I'm quite proud of how it turned out (it's a mini book with a loop to attach it to a key chain or necklace). I was surprised with how much more I enjoyed this day's sketch! I managed a fourth drawing, got the stamped letter in, and even added shading! It was a much simpler object than Day 7 and I tried to find ways of adding information, like a heavier line in the shaded areas.

The other day I woke up from a nap with an epiphany that I treat my drawings, everything from scribbles to fine art, as precious and I think this is contributing to my perfectionism. I honestly hadn't thought of it like this before, but looking over my sketches of the past week, I'm seeing how I can communicate a subject very quickly and sometimes messily, on days when I feel I'm top of my game and days when it feels like sitting down for 6 min is the last thing I want to do, in only 6 minutes! In the past I've literally spent hours working on one sketch, back breaking, neck sore, and been thoroughly unhappy with the final result, so being pleased with a 6 minute sketch is a real eye-opener for me. 

14 day Challenge - image 9 - student project

14 day Challenge - image 10 - student project

14 day Challenge - image 11 - student project

14 day Challenge - image 12 - student project

14 day Challenge - image 13 - student project

14 day Challenge - image 14 - student project

And with that, this challenge is done! I did not manage to keep to the schedule with everything going on right now. Some of it I had to do in bits and pieces and over several days. Even though it was only 6 min to draw, sometimes I couldn't get back to it until the next day to critique it. However, I am so pleased I finished this challenge! Here's the full 14 sketches all up on my wall!

14 day Challenge - image 15 - student project

I've learned a lot about how to use a daily sketching practice to grow, and in ways I didn't expect! I have a lot more confidence in the process now, whereas before I would give up because I didn't see the purpose, I can now remind myself of the point which is to experiment, try something new, and learn about myself as an artist!

With what's going on I have found it difficult to keep to a daily practice. We are working on getting a routine in place so we all feel better grounded and I hope to include a regular sketching practice as well, even if it isn't every day.