Should You Enter a Painting or Art Challenge Event?

Favorite picks from January 2015 Painting Challenge, Karen Gillis Taylor art

Favorite picks from January 2015 Painting Challenge, Karen Gillis Taylor art. Click for larger view.

Do you like challenges? Can you picture yourself making your art every day for a month? Would that be intimidating or a dream come true? The 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge is just that. Make a painting a day, and the rest is up to you. You could make a 3 foot square piece or a 3 inch one.

The big challenge is coming up with a brand new idea every day. That’s scary for anyone, even if you have been making art for a jillion years like me.

Paris colors theme, detail from 5 x 7" acrylic on acrylic paper, Karen Gillis Taylor

Paris colors theme, detail from 5 x 7″ acrylic on acrylic paper, Karen Gillis Taylor


I accepted this painting challenge last September of 2014, and re-enlisted this January. The September challenge was my first, although our wonderful organizing painter, Leslie Saeta, has been setting up and doing these challenges herself, right along with all the hundreds of us around the world, for quite some time now. She is a super leader, with enthusiastic daily blog posts that keep the participants engaged. Thank you Leslie!

I learned many things from my first challenge event in September 2014, you can read about here. This time around, I got braver. I didn’t worry so much about making a masterpiece. And I didn’t let myself feel guilty if I didn’t make a painting each and every day. In fact, I only made 23 paintings this time around. Life happens.

"Tuscan Primitive 1", 9 x 12", Acrylic on panel, Karen Gillis Taylor

“Tuscan Primitive 1″, 9 x 12”, Acrylic on panel, Karen Gillis Taylor


If you decide to do this kind of painting challenge, it’s advised you pick a theme. My theme in September was “Permission to Imagine.” All my paintings followed that theme. This time around, my general theme was Color Exploration. So I began by setting up color palettes I named. The first was Colors of Paris. Then came Colors of Amelie, inspired by the film which also took place in Paris. The third palette was Colors of Italy. Then came the Underwater Garden. Each palette of colors spawned 3 or 4 small paintings, 5 x 7″ or larger. It was manageable and not too intimidating.

"Underwater Garden 2", detail. Click for larger view.

“Underwater Garden 2”, detail. Click for larger view.

"Blue Interior with Flowers", 7 x 9", acrylic on WC paper, Karen Gillis Taylor

“Blue Interior with Flowers”, 7 x 9″, acrylic on WC paper, Karen Gillis Taylor

After a couple of weeks, I began to make a few free form studies not really connected to any other themes. (Like “Blue Interior with Flowers”.) I’m glad I made these smaller studies. I felt free to experiment with new techniques, like cutting up corrugated cardboard into shapes and stamping color onto the painting. (See the Underwater Paintings of the last few weeks of posts.) I enjoyed making portraits, which I haven’t done for quite some time. The Amelie series (5 paintings out of this month) was especially fun. I kept viewing the movie on Netflix, French subtitles and all, and now have a new appreciation for the way the artistic directors created a color palette and never deviated from that for the entire film! No wonder it won awards.

If you wish to join Leslie Saeta’s painting challenge, she says she will do another later in 2015.

Thanks for reading, and have fun making art.











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8 Responses to “Should You Enter a Painting or Art Challenge Event?”

  1. Melanie McNeil Says:

    I work steadily on my quilts, although I do occasionally have a day off. This month I have started and finished one, finished except for binding a large quilt, nearly finished the top of another (will finish the top tomorrow, and should move it towards quilting tomorrow, too,) and sewn the blocks for a fourth. I design everything myself, which is challenging enough in itself. Because of that, I don’t choose to sign up for all the various quilting challenges (and there are hundreds!) and exchanges out there. I think a challenge could be especially helpful for artists who are in something of a rut (in color, overall design, style…) or who feel blocked. A do-something-do-anything challenge can help those juices to flow, even if slowly at first.

    I’ve enjoyed looking at your works this month as you’ve developed them. Thanks for sharing.


    • karen Says:

      Melanie, it’s great that you are self-directed and like you said, making your own designs is your own challenge. There are many offerings in the quilting world to join, and it’s the same for painting. I had my time of entering shows and competitions. You are right in that it is helpful for those who would like to explore new ideas or break out of a rut to try a challenge event. It’s nice to have this kind of challenge with such a group showing on one website, with chances to visit each other’s sites and exchange emails. I should have expressed that bonus in my blog. I’ve enjoyed seeing the many interesting paintings every day and commenting on some I find especially wonderful. Thanks for your comments, Melanie! Food for thought. Take care. -Karen


  2. Arlene Says:

    Forget about an art challenge event. I would just love to be able to paint every day just because, but time constraints from working full time and not having space to paint because of house renovation issues make it really difficult. Why I am taking an evening class!


    • karen Says:

      It’s good to have your evening class going, Arlene. Painting? I hope you get through the renovation and find a space for art work. That’s such a challenge.
      I could not have participated in this challenge a year ago, and had to paint on weekends or evenings after work. We all can only do our best, and trust that it’s worth doing. šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Martine Paquet Says:

    Beautiful collage, Karen!


  4. Rolina Says:

    Congratulations on completing the challenge, it has been wonderful to see your work, I really like it!


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