Should you participate in a 30 day Painting Challenge?


In January 2019 I participated in a painting challenge to complete a painting every day. The challenge was run by Strada Easel and was a competition to win one. The rules were that every painting must be painted from life, ie. in front of the subject rather than from a photograph. This is a collage of all 31 paintings that I completed.

Should you participate in a 30 day Painting Challenge?

Having participated in a few 30 paintings in 30 days challenges I thought it was time for a review.

Are the challenges a good idea or not?

Well I have found them to be good in some ways and not so much in other ways.

The Positives:

The main one is that it’s FUN! (and challenging) Tackling and overcoming challenges enables growth.

It is a great way to start off the year or give yourself a boost if your painting time has not been very consistent of late. Having made the commitment to participate, all non essential tasks are put aside and painting takes precedence. Being artists, actually producing art should be our main activity but so many other things can encroach on our time.

If there is a particular skill you want to master or learn, there is no better way than to practise this repeatedly in a consistent way. This applies to any skill, whether it is sporting excellence, music or whatever, not just painting. As an artist my head is always full of new ideas that I need to work through to go in a different direction, build on what I already know and take myself to a new level. 

Likewise, if there is a problem that needs to be resolved – the best way is to tackle it one bite at a time in different ways over consecutive days. Constantly asking myself – How can I do this better? What if I try this?etc

I like to experiment with different techniques and when testing out various paints, supports or mediums they can be directly compared to one another when painting consistently over a number of days. This is ongoing as, I find, trying new things generates even more ideas and ‘what if’ questions. At the end of the challenge I come away with  a list of new ideas for other things to try. It’s as if, working this way, the ideas gather momentum and snowball as new ideas build on previous experiences.

The more mindful practise we have the more our ability to paint intuitively is developed. When painting en plein air, it is necessary to capture the feeling and essence of the places and the more knowledge and practise we have behind us, the easier this becomes. After a while, the ability to develop our own unique style comes to the fore.

I have found that my followers really look forward to seeing new paintings posted each day and it feels good to know that it makes people happy to see my paintings. (Not meant to sound conceited.)

The negatives:

Naturally this practise will mean that a lot of ongoing tasks that would usually be dealt with along the way are put to one side. This means that, at the end of the challenge, there’s a backlog of jobs that will need to be caught up on.

It’s physically and mentally exhausting backing up day after day, thinking – What will I paint tomorrow? This is especially true if painting en plein air.

The idea of being accountable to our social media and on-line audience keeps us on track as we don’t want to give up and not see the task through to completion. However, at times, the pressure to produce a painting ‘good enough’ to post on the internet was difficult and for me, resulted in multiple paintings being produced in a day. The next one is always going to be better than the last – right?

To Sum Up

On the whole, challenges are good for us. I find them exciting and would I do it again? YES.