In today’s art podcast, we’re going to share drawing challenge ideas that will help improve your drawing skills. That could be by taking part in existing drawing challenges or setting a personal challenge for yourself. We’re going to talk about how these challenges can help you.
Our News before we start
Let’s Face it 2022
Tara is excited to be a guest teacher in this years Let’s Face It Course created by Kara Bullock. This is a year-long course hosted by Kara Bullock where 27 artists share how they create portraits and figurative art. This would never have happened if Tara hadn’t taken part in our first-ever February Faces art challenge and discovering how much she loved drawing faces
Adobe Max Free Creativity Conference
We were gobsmacked to be invited to be speakers in Adobe Max – It’s a Free Online Creativity Conference which airs 26-28 October. You just have to register for free to watch us, and lots of other creative people (including musicians and actors). This is another thing that has come about through creative challenges, so we know how valuable art challenges can be.
Drawing Challenge Ideas
So if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already familiar with our art challenges, but you might still find it hard to choose which drawing challenge to take part in each month, or why they are good for you.
When you are deciding on a drawing challenge think first about what you want to achieve with it:
Reasons to take part in a Drawing Challenge
- To Build a body of artwork
- To Practice with a specific medium or skill
- To Learn from Other People
- To Learn to See and Think Like an Artist
- To Learn to be Decisive and Draw from Life
- To Practice drawing a certain subject
- To Build a creative habit and get yourself drawing every day
- A way of starting to draw again
- A way of connecting with other artists (common ground)
- Purely for fun
let’s dig into these a bit more
1. To build a body of artwork
You might want to build up a body of work for something such as an upcoming exhibition, to create things to sell at a fair or to practice so you have things to show people for commissions
Year-long 365-day daily art challenges
If you really want to commit yourself you might want to draw or paint every day for a year. (For example something like our Kick365 year long sketch challenge). You can also adapt the challenge to work for you; so you don’t have to complete one thing every day; Instead, you could commit to spending an hour a day working on something until it’s complete and then, start something new and work on that daily. This could be a great way to get work ready for an exhibition or for your art portfolio.
Year-long weekly drawing challenges
If creating every day is too much you could create once a week for a year. That would still mean you have plenty of work to show for it, plus it’s less pressure to put on yourself. We have created a challenge called Kick52 if you want to do that with a group.
30 Day Drawing Challenges
If a year sounds way too much of a commitment, try a 30-day drawing challenge or 60 days or anything in between. This can also be a good amount of time to kick start your work.
2. Practice with a specific art medium or skill
Practice with an art medium
For example, you might want to learn to use pastels or watercolours. Well, one thing I would say is that when you first try something new, you might not immediately get on with it, and it’s easy to just move on and try something else. But if you’re taking part in a challenge for a month, you have more time to get used to how that medium responds. It might be that at the end of the month, it’s still not for you. On the other hand, it might have really grown on you and it turns out you just needed more time to get used to it.
You might want to work on your color mixing skills. One of the most common things a beginner artist might do is to rush out and buy every color known to mankind, but a colour that has been created by mixing two or three colours is way more interesting than a colour that’s been squeezed straight from a tube.
You’d be amazed how many colours you can make using just the three primaries and a white. By limiting your palette to just the three primaries for a whole month, you’ll learn which colours mix well together and which ones don’t. We launched the August Trio daily painting challenge this year and that was quite a popular challenge.
3 To Learn from Other People
One of the great things about taking part in a group challenge is that you can see different ways other people approach a challenge. This can give you ideas for approaches you might not have considered. For example, in our Facebook Group, we see artists post things and then that springboards an idea for someone else.
You might also want to copy drawings by other artists you admire, like copying the great masters. It’s a good way of learning other peoples techniques. We have a challenge called Copyist June where we invite people to try this. We have also created a new art challenge called Styluary where you take inspiration from an artist but use it to create your own, new piece of art.
4. To Learn See Like an Artist
Something you’ll often hear as a beginner is to draw what you see and not what you think you see. So it’s easy to draw something familiar and assume a lot of the information, rather than actually looking and observing what’s actually in front of you. A really good way to train your brain away from that habit is by practising drawing upside down. So, you find an image, turn it upside down and then draw it. By doing that, you’re removing your brain’s need to label everything, and instead you are forced just to look at the shapes and angles. When you’ve finished your drawing, turn it the right way up and see how accurate you’ve been. Again, doing something as simple as that over a month is really good for you.
Another really helpful challenge is to paint with only one colour, and white for a month.
Artists tend to think more about tone than they do colour. Colour can actually be quite distracting. By removing colour from the equation, you have no choice but to notice the various lights and darks and so you’ll learn the importance of different tonal values in a painting.
5. To Learn to be Decisive and Draw from Life
You might want to set yourself a challenge to draw directly with a pen. This helps you to be more decisive and embrace mistakes, unlike a pencil where you can keep rubbing things out.
You might also want to practice drawing from life. That could be drawing things around you in your house or getting out and doing some Urban Sketching. Drawing from life is so different from working from a photo. When you work from a photo the composition has already been worked out, unless of course, you change it. Also, everything has been flattened to 2D, and of course, in a photo, nothing moves.
We have a specific Urban sketching challenge in July and we saw some great drawings being produced. But many of our challenges can be adapted to draw what you want. Or, you could create your own challenge or find another organised challenge that suits you.
6. To Practice drawing a certain subject
Perhaps there is a topic you’ve always wanted to master, but have never made the time to do it.
For example, if you wanted to start offering pet portrait commissions you might set yourself a challenge to draw domestic animals. That way you have plenty of art to show people who might be interested. I guess this could also be part of building a body of work as we mentioned before
We have several challenges that could help with mastering one particular subject.
- 31 animals August art challenge – could be perfect for the pet portrait person or someone who wants to sell animal paintings.
- Quick Kick October Sketch Challenge – drawing the same subject every day.
- February Faces or Portrait July would be great to practice your portrait drawing skills.
- Blooming Marvellous May Flower Art Challenge – concentrate on drawing flowers.
But like we said before, if these challenges don’t work for you, you might find another one that does, or you could create your own.
7. To Build a creative habit and get yourself drawing every day
Challenging yourself to draw every day for a month is a great way to help form a creative habit. There is some debate on how many days it takes to form a habit though, so if you’re up for the ultimate challenge, you could try the Kick 365 challenge and this is where you draw something every day for a whole year!
The best thing about that, is comparing your last drawing to your first. You’ll be amazed at how much your drawing improves
8. A way of starting to draw again
If you have just started drawing again, maybe after not drawing for years, challenges are a great way to get yourself motivated. Remember that just because a challenge says that you have to draw every day, you can do whatever works for you whether that’s drawing once a week, twice a week or whatever. The whole idea for a drawing challenge is that it helps with motivation.
And if you are a beginner artist and a bit scared of your drawing results or are very uptight with your drawing, here are some things you could try, which helps remove the expectation that your drawing will be good.
Continuous line drawing
Continuous line drawing is when you always keep your pen on the paper. It is great for hand-eye coordination. Plus you can also get some fun results (we do this challenge as a Quick Kick Challenge in April).
Blind contour drawing
Blind contour drawing, which is when you look at what you’re drawing but not at your paper, and you also keep your pen on the paper at all times. This helps teach you to look really closely at your subject. When you are a beginner at drawing, you tend to look at your paper more than you do the subject. Sometimes it can give weird results, but often they are really interesting. You can also go back into your drawings afterwards if you want and add colour; we’ve seen some great drawings done this way by people in our Facebook Group (we do this for our Quick Kick September Drawing Challenge.
Non-dominant hand drawing
Another fun exercise is to draw with your non-dominant hand which is supposed to awaken the creative side of your brain.
9. A way of connecting with other artists
Often, if you take part in an online art challenge there will be a place where you can connect with the other people taking part. For example, we have our own private Facebook group, where everyone who takes part in the challenges can share their work and engage with each other. And that’s so nice because we’ve seen lots of friendships forming over the last three years and it’s lovely to see everyone jeeing each other on.
The thing about being in a group like that is that you will be more likely to stick to the challenge because you’ll feel more accountable too
And of course, it’s always great to see how different artists approach the same subject or medium in different ways. You’ll find yourself feeling inspired to try new techniques and styles and in fact, we’ve had several people in the group who have been trying techniques that the others have shared. That’s something you just don’t get when you’re doing a challenge on your own.
10. Purely for fun
Another reason you might want to take part in a challenge is purely for fun. It’s got to beat some of the TV that’s on at the moment!
For example, we have a doodling challenge called Doodling December and a cartoon challenge called Quick Kick June. They are the sort of challenges that you can do with your feet up and a cuppa and they don’t create much mess. Or, if you don’t mind making a bit of a mess you could create a very experimental art journaling sketchbook, try out colours and textures and mark making
When you are choosing a drawing challenge, there are a few other things you need to consider
- How much time you have to spare
- How long you want the challenge to last and how regularly you want to draw
- Whether you like to do your own thing or if you’d prefer to be part of an organised drawing challenge
- If you need an accountability partner
- Whether to set yourself a reward
So, let’s dig into these a little bit:
1. How much time you have to spare
You don’t want to commit yourself to a huge challenge if you don’t have much time. It’s far better to commit to a small chunk of time and then you can always do more. Small simple art challenges are great if you can only grab time during breaks, or when you are waiting to pick up kids etc.
One challenge that’s great for a short amount of time, is to try a timed drawing challenge or work a bit each day on a larger piece of work
We have a challenge called 5 minute March, a speed drawing challenge to draw something every day in 5 minutes or less. It encourages you to be looser, plus I always find that when I do one 5 minute drawing I do another.
2. How long you want the art challenge to be how regularly you want to draw
If you’re someone who bores easily, then a long art challenge, or one that focuses on a specific subject or medium, probably isn’t for you. Start with a 30-day drawing challenge and one that gives you free rein to draw any subject you like on any day. Our March Mixed Media Art Challenge is a good one for that. Then just see how you feel.
You may have more time some days than others, because of other commitments, so maybe a weekly drawing challenge could work for you. We have now launched the new Kick 52 challenge. And this is where you draw once a week, every week for a whole year. This means you can work on a drawing all week if you want to, as you find the time, or you can just draw something more simple in one day. It gives you a lot more flexibility than other challenges but still helps you to form a creative habit.
We also have the Facetastic Friday challenge on Instagram too. And that’s a weekly challenge that you can join in with, if, and when you have time. You don’t have to do it every week either.
It may be at certain times of the year you have less time, for example, the lead up to Christmas or the school holidays. So during those times, try to pick a challenge that isn’t too much of a commitment. The Quick Kicks challenges are great for that because they take anything from 5-15 minutes and most people can find a few minutes in the day.
3. Whether you like to do your own thing or be part of an organised drawing challenge
The plus side of joining in with existing drawings challenges is that you have more accountability. If other people you know online are doing them too, you might cheer each other on.
You often get art prompts with an organised drawing challenge. These might help if you get stuck. They are there to help, not hinder you, so if you don’t like them, do your own thing.
You can often adapt an existing art challenge to suit what you want to do. For example, we have an Art Journal Challenge in January. There is no reason you can’t choose your own theme instead of the suggested topic of creating something to do with your day. We love seeing the variations people come up with.
4. If you need an accountability partner
It can really help to have an accountability partner when you’re taking part in a challenge. And sometimes, just being part of a Facebook group is enough. If you’re in a group, you feel like you need to show up, or people will know you haven’t done the challenge. Even if that’s mostly not true, it’s a psychological thing.
Or, if you have a creative friend who will do the art challenge with you, that’s really great. It’s like going to the gym; if you usually go together, you don’t want to let the other person down, so you show up even when you normally might not.
5. Whether to set yourself a reward
You might want to set yourself a reward for completing an art challenge. That could be something big like a trip somewhere or something smaller like an art book or bar of chocolate.
Find a drawing challenge that’s right for you
If you want to try a drawing challenge, pop over to our website where you will find 3 art challenges to choose from every month and even a challenge for an entire year
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This week’s creative question
Q. If a therapist was to analyse you through your art, what do you think they would say and why?
The best answers will be read out on a future podcast.
You can Tweet us your answers @KickCreatives or let us know in the Facebook Group, which by the way if you haven’t already joined, I highly recommend that you do! We will put the question up there and also on the Facebook page… and of course, on our Instagram page @kickinthecreatives.
If you have any suggestions for the podcast or our challenges please feel free to get in touch.