Updated: May 19
Can drawing challenges actually help us as creatives to produce more work? In the past, some creative challenges have actually put the brakes on my creativity and i've had to stop the challenge in order to get some freedom back into my sketchbook. Will this 100 day drawing challenge be any different?
I'm always trying to find new ways of squeezing drawing into my day in the aim of building up my skill level and work on some drawings that could be used in a portfolio one day. I want to use my sketchbook more and get into a habit of drawing everyday, even if its just small.
I've tried loads of different drawing challenges in the past including Inktober. Every day in October you are given a prompt to create a drawing on that theme, most people then upload these drawings to social media. I enjoyed the accountability of uploading the image to Instagram everyday but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to create a finished drawing, edit it on Photoshop and then upload it online everyday. I think the second part of the process actually took longer than the drawing itself. Posting online to an audience every day can also have it's own pressures and Fear of The White Page can creep in when i'm stuck for ideas.
I came across a 100 day drawing project on Katie Chappell's page and decided to give it a go. The idea is that you create 1 drawing every day for 100 days. I kept this project personal and didn't upload the drawings to social media, this took a lot of pressure off the art work and removed a lot of the creative block that usually stops me from creating. It also saved me a lot of time by not editing the work afterwards so that it could be used online.
I used a ring-bound Pink Pig square sketchbook to make the work and then pulled the pages out and popped them in a drawer as I went along. I kept all the work together in the drawer until the end of the 100 days and then dug them all out for one big living room critique session.
Over the first few days I found it quite difficult to sit down and find the energy and inspiration to draw. My old friend Fear of The White Page had it's way of sneaking in too as I subconsciously tried to create the perfect drawing instead of just trusting the process.
I put all the drawings together on the living room floor to see how it all looked as one big collection of work. It was interesting to see contrasts in colours, paper backgrounds and drawing tools i’d used. I split the pile of drawings into three sections, love, dislike and ‘parked ideas’.
It was a nice reminder to go back through the drawings, almost like going through a photo album. I was reminded of places where I had drawn and how I was feeling in that moment, I was reminded of what it was like to sit in the warmth in the garden to draw plants that no longer exist now. I hadn't really looked back over a body of work like this before now, it's quite easy to just work through a sketchbook and pop it on a shelf. It was quite a learning curve to see the reoccurring themes and tools that i'd used and how i'd approached each drawing.
Two lessons that came to mind when I was looking through the pile of drawings were the 2/10 rule and the 70% rule.
When I was at university, my tutor taught me that on average for every 10 drawings created 2 will be 'good' or at least that you'd want to use moving forwards. Keeping this quantity over quality idea in mind, I find it helps to take a lot of pressure off the work. This makes it a bit easier to just produce the work by generating a volume of content to then work from later.
The 70% rule is to basically create your work to 70% perfection and not 100%. This also helps to take the pressure off yourself and to stop procrastinating over tiny details. When you bring all the work together at the end of the project or look back over it in time, you won't remember the little perfectionist parts but you will remember the fact that you got that idea on paper.
I managed to produce 55 drawings in the 100 day challenge. I was a bit disappointed that I hadn't managed to create 100 drawings but I have 55 more drawings than I did when I started and that's still a good amount of work to have created.
I've come up with a few ideas to making some rules before I attempt this challenge again in the future or that you might want to apply to your next challenge:
- Set time goals.
Decide before you start drawing how long you want to spend on that particular piece of work. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes... sometimes it helps to set a timer too (I have a tendency to use the whole day if I'm left without time constraints).
- Set portfolio goals.
What do you want to achieve from the challenge? Do you want to produce more drawings of people / landscapes / buildings etc? Can you make a collection of inspirational photos before you start? (I have a Pinterest Board of Tiny Houses that I like to refer back to).
- Choose your weapons.
What materials will you use? Just ink? coloured pencils? will you stick to a simple colour palette for the whole challenge? Will you use a sketchbook or loose sheets of paper?
A Little Treat Just For You
I'm a big supporter of sharing work online and I think it can be really beneficial in helping others to grow too. So, I'm not just going to share my best work with you, below is my least favourite from the 100 Day Challenge. I really suffered from Fear of The White Page when I was creating this page and I really hated the outcome, it actually stopped me from drawing for a little while. I've learnt a lot from the drawing in terms of shape, composition, materials etc and I know now what I can do to improve it if I were to draw it again.
UPDATE: I uploaded my Spooktober 2020 and Inktober 2019 illustrations to Pinterest at the time that I created them, I then hid them as I hated looking back at the work. Today, as I look at the work as a starting point for ideas and those drawings were my best with the skills that I had at the time, I look at them as a body of work instead. So if you'd like to see what work I was creating a couple of years ago, here's some more.
If you've found a drawing challenge that works for you, please share in the comments, i'd love to give it a try.
More on this subject:
TED talk by illustrator David Litchfield about his 365 day drawing challenge.
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