Challenges of the Challenge

I am four days into my 20 Day Painting Challenge.  For artists who might be reading this, here are some observations about the process and the output.

The first step in doing something like this is fully committing to it.  I’ve chosen to pull my prompts from the hat in the early morning and attempt to get much of the creative work done by 9 am.  Setting a time component eliminates any tendency to overthink things.  I have to get moving early and get paint on the canvas right away.

Because the prompt pull is completely random, I have no idea what I am going to paint when I wake up in the morning.  That is pretty exciting for me, and apparently exciting for at least a few people that follow my work.  They are anticipating what’s next almost as much as I am.

I don’t spend a lot of time mulling over what to paint.  I pull the prompt, respond to it, and find something.  On Day 3 the prompt was KARMA.  For whatever reason, the first person who popped into my head was Van, the recipient of the home we built in Cambodia last month.  At first, I thought I would do a painting of her hands, working on her rattan trays.  Then I found this lovely profile of her praying during the blessing ceremony.  While I knew it would be more time consuming, I went with the facial profile.

Kent was waking up in Cambodia as I was finishing up the painting here in Okotoks.  I asked if he could possibly share the finished work with Van out in the village.  While he showed her the picture of the painting on his phone, Kara was videoing using her phone.  They put together a beautiful clip that I will always cherish.

Today’s prompt came from Jason in Hope, BC.  He suggested painting something from the 1985 movie The Goonies.  I started looking at images as soon as I got up and landed on this wonderful moment between Sloth and Chunk.  The thought that kept going through my head was that sometimes in life we discover that the thing we fear the most can become our greatest teacher, and best friend.

Over the first four days, I have found that I do finishing details and have a mostly completed project by noon.  I may do a few things in the afternoon, but I largely spend the rest of my day working on commissions.  As soon as the challenge painting is photographed it gets added to the 20 Day Painting Challenge online auction.  

This challenge structure works well for me on several levels:

1. It helps me reset my physiological clock after my overseas travel.
2. It invites me to create a body of work that is refreshing and unpredictable. Combined with commission works, this becomes a highly productive period.
3. Because it stretches over almost three weeks, the people that follow what I do get into it and begin to anticipate what is coming next.  They also connect with Bracelets For Buildings and the work we are doing in Southeast Asia to help the poor.  

I think the thing I appreciate the most about the 20 Day Painting Challenge is that I have no idea where it is going to take me.  But at the end of 20 days, I will have a collection of creations that is absolutely unique, a collection that will hopefully raise enough money to change the trajectory of a family in 2021.


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