Updated: Jan 12
What We Gain From the Art Challenge by Saint Louis Artist Jennifer Klemp
Art Challenges for drawing and painting are everywhere on the 'gram, and with good reason. The artist wants to get back to drawing in todays hectic world of marketing, designing, and making a presence on social media. I'd consider the other aspects of my work as a Fine Artist (not actual painting and drawing) to take up at least 50% of my time. Like the title states, it's a 'challenge', to draw/paint/sculpt for 30 days, which is why we name it as such.
I had the best intentions to stick with the drawing challenge I created for myself mid-January. The first 7 or 8 days I was jazzed, but like so many things we start with enthusiasm, the 'project' gets tough mid-way. The trick is to stick with it, of course... and with the right state of mind, not loosing the true purpose of why we made the challenge in the first place.
THE PURPOSE OF THE DRAWING CHALLENGE:
Let's not forget the purpose of any good challenge. We attempt a challenge so that we can improve upon our skills as an artist or become ‘better’ at whatever that challenge entails. (Fitness, art, or otherwise.) In my case specifically, I felt like I had spent much of 2021 marketing my work and getting a great (and beautiful) website up and running. I was feeling like I needed to 'get back to my roots' of what I actually do and love, and that 'thing' is being a fine artist. I therefore created the challenge for myself so that I would be sure to incorporate 'drawing time' in my everyday life. (At least for 30 days)
I started the drawing challenge on January 16th and as of the time I wrote this blog post, I have 16 drawings (over 24 days). That's not as bad as I thought it was when I counted my drawings that I have done. I did all but one of the drawings in a square moleskin sketchbook, and decided against using the YUPO paper pad that I originally thought would be so exciting to use.
I used Micron pen for most of the drawings and focused primarily on simple renderings that were a combination of contour and blind contour. I used pencil for some of the drawings.
I made some big progress on creating REELS on Instagram, which was part of my purpose as well... so that I could expand my reach and audience. (I mean, time to get on board with those 15-30 second wonders, right?) Consequently, my followers, numbers, engagement, etc. went up.
I had been feeling a little bad that I hadn't kept up the challenge every day, however, I reminded myself of the main purpose for starting a challenge at the beginning of the year... and that was to create (drawings) in real life a little more (rather than be in virtual life all of the time). I ended up with 16 more drawings than I had when I started versus ZERO new drawings, and that is a GREAT THING!
One of the most important things to keep top of mind I feel is that our progression as an artist is dependent on *actual* creating in the studio. I feel that I am mid-challenge now with several great drawings. I am an artist that has been working since 1996, give or take some years, which gives me a slight advantage of having a sort of specific 'style' I've developed. However, I hadn't identified what I wanted within the style for these sketchbook drawings. Through the drawing challenge I found what I wanted, and this could possibly be considered to be a 'breakthrough'. (YAY!)
If you are a beginner, then doing a drawing challenge will include many different types of drawings. The point is to JUST KEEP DRAWING, and see what happens.
HOW I MODIFIED/AM MODIFYING THE CHALLENGE:
The line drawings that I identified around drawings #8, #9, and #10 (in the sketchbook) were what I wanted. I had some fails to be certain, however, I felt that the drawings that were contour with some shadows drawn in line held what I desired. It was one of those situations as an artist where you feel like, "you will know it when you see it." From there, I was on my way to developing more work in that manner and in the series.
This specific style of drawing with the plants is something I feel is 'working' so I plan to continue, and will keep pressing forward. I decided that even though I skipped several days, I will keep up the challenge by starting up again, and getting back on to the daily habit intentionally. My aim is to have 30 drawings total.
How Do I Know as an Artist if my Drawing/Painting/Artwork is Working?
Some series work, and some don't. Period. I've had more fails than I could ever count. You know the series is working by these three indicators:
You look back on the drawing, painting, etc. and you feel excited about it.
You accomplished a certain goal you had originally established for yourself.
You can't wait to make another drawing that is in the same style as the one you feel is 'working'.
Many would say that if a piece of art, or a series is selling, then you know it's working. However, not all works of art will sell right away, and sales are not always a great indicator, in my opinion. They 'can' be a good indicator, but the most important gauge of your work, is YOU BEING HAPPY with your progress within the drawing and as an artist.
If the work is selling, then obviously keep going with it- unless you are unhappy with that work or it becomes stale. Likewise, don't let sales be your primary motive for making more work within a particular series. The most important aspect I feel for fine artists, is their growth with their technique, style, and progression. In other words, let your intentions as a fine artist be your true north most of the time.
If you like this BLOG post, and it helped you as a fine artist, please let me know! You can see the website here where I am going to be adding several prints soon featuring the plant drawings from the 30 Day Challenge/Plants. I am super excited about this series.
As always, just keep going with your art,
Jennifer Klemp Artist