Creativity in everyday life – A 30 day challenge reflection

 A 30 day challenge is just that, a challenge.

I readily agreed to a 30 day challenge thinking it was going to be easy to do. We were to create small, 8 x 8 in. drawings or paintings and post them once a day. How hard could that be? I would do this first thing in the morning as a warm-up. The goal of this exercise was to experiment.

As it turned out, this is a harder exercise to do than I thought. The first few days were easy enough. I worked through ideas I had been wanting to try. I normally work in an abstract or semi-abstract manner but something happened in the last few months. What was coming out was landscape. The work was abstract-ish but definitely landscape. I surprised myself because I had not worked in a ‘realistic’ manner for years. Why was this coming out? 

Landscape was a subject matter that I had touched on and off for years but always just as one tiny element in a larger more abstract format. Every time that I went back to my ‘old’ style, I created a mess so I decided to go with the flow and work this element out of my system. Maybe I could incorporate some of these realistic elements in my abstracts. This challenge would do the trick for me. 

The goal became a blending of two loves. I would combine abstract and landscape; abstract landscape. I hate roller coasters and this seemed like one. My landscapes turning abstract. Sounded good at the time and a possibility. 

So I started. I started with graphite powder. These happened when I sprinkled the powder on the paper then hosed it down. What was left was an abstract background where I often looked for hidden imagery in the marks. Landscape seemed to come out most of the time. Now I wanted looser, bolder results. Could I do this? I added bits of collage with mixed results. Perseverance is the key, I knew. Make a lot of work and the work would evolve. I kept going. I added watercolour in some then acrylic in others. I splashed paint and I rubbed out the graphite. 

I kept telling myself that it was only paper. These bits of paper were just that, bits of paper. One of my past instructors had told us once that ‘Nothing is precious’. You can always redo the work. At the time, I did not believe him. This work was so ‘magical’ to me. Every time that an artist reaches a new level of achievement, he or she hangs on to these new ‘greater’ works for fear of not being able to do it again. The fear goes away. Your work continues to grow. Slowly, you let those first works go. You even realize that they are not that great…anymore. You have moved to a newer level. You have gotten better. 

I kept repeating my advice in my head and slowly, I made progress. I added elements that I had not done before and the result was occasionally pleasing to my eye. I made small micro elements of progress towards my goal. Days passed and the pile of paintings grew. 

The thirtieth day arrived. I stopped. Looking at the pile, I decided that I would leave the paintings alone for a few days then look at the work more objectively. I kept worrying about my progress or lack of progress. I worked on other projects and time went by. Two weeks later, I looked. Laying out all the work on a large table, I examined the end result. I saw a bit of collage here and acrylic there. This part was good and that part certainly wasn’t. I made a list of the good parts that I liked then picked out my favorite paintings. I put away the others. 

Looking at just the work that I considered successful, I made a plan of what I could do with future work. This is what I discovered:

  • I kept only about 20% of my exercises from the 30 days. 
  • I was pleasantly surprised that I had made progress towards my goal of combining the abstract and landscape themes.
  • The work took a turn that I had not expected. This is not a negative. The result pleased me. 
  • Working consistently changed me and my work. I gained confidence in my overall plan. My work surprised me. 

Convinced that a challenge is good? Here are some links for you to look at:Why You Should Do an Art Challenge
Have you guys ever done an art challenge? Will created the Draw 50 Things Challenge , it’s a design challenge where you…www.svslearn.com
Why join an art challenge?
We are currently in the middle of a 10-day art challenge in our Facebook group community called The Soulbrush Sessions…www.artiststrong.com

A challenge is a way to grow and change your work. Why not give it a try.

I hope this helps you .

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCltBfqSMAK0OOWeXaKGud6Q?view_as=subscriber

https://www.facebook.com/dorischarest

https://www.pinterest.ca/dalinec/

https://www.instagram.com/dorischarest/

https://www.udemy.com/user/edit-profile/

https://www.skillshare.com/user/dorischarest

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Artists Teaching Art

Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect.  You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect.  Read more… Monet IMG_9160 small A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella  –  Painting in the style of Monet

Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.

When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.

These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.

I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.

I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.

I had a great group of students.  My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84.  There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art.  We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork.  Then, we go on from there.  Skills have no age.  

You can learn them at any time.  The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery.  You need to create without fear.  What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes.  The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences.  Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you.  What you create will always be unique.  What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.

This is what I have learned from my students.  They have taught me more than I can ever teach them.  Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others.  Remember this fact.

Below are some of my student’s projects.  I have permission from my students but I have kept the names off to protect their privacy.  Enjoy the variety and quality of this work.  I had a great class! IMG_1059 sm IMG_1060 sm IMG_1061sm IMG_1063sm IMG_1064sm IMG_1065sm IMG_1066 sm