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Do more than just survive painting challenges - Part One

Do you start painting challenges and then have to give them up because they don't fit into your life and they become overwhelming and stressful instead of a positive learning experience?


Painting challenges like the Strada Easel Challenge can be a brilliant way to create a motivational daily habit of creativity which improve your artistic skills, connect you to other creatives and increases your productivity.


However, they can also create stress and tension - "What do you mean you HAVE to paint before midnight?" leave you despondent if you don't get interest or support in your social media posts, and create a tsunami of wet paintings you don't have space for - or if you are a selling artist - a market for.


To thrive, rather than just survive, here's what I've learnt through doing the Strada Challenge numerous times now. I hope these ideas can help you; and I'd love to hear your tips in the comments.


TOP TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST FROM PAINTING CHALLENGES


Consider what you can do BEFORE, DURING & AFTER to maximise success.


Before the challenge


  • Plan and write down what you are going to paint or draw for each day.

  • Decide if your time constraints allow you to paint daily, just sketch, or a mix of both.


  • Jot ideas down in a dedicated physical or digital notebook through the year regarding subjects - by doing the thinking beforehand you will save yourself so much time and stress deciding. The value of this is immense!


  • If planning to paint outdoors think about locations with shelter in case of poor weather, or plan places you can paint from your car or home window.


  • Do all this before you buy or prepare supports so you can plan dimensions accordingly.


  • Prime supports ahead of time - it can be a big job to prime 31 supports so each time you do some through the year prime a few extra and put in your 'challenge' box.


  • Buy any materials you need well in advance - because you have planned your daily output you will waste less.

woman choosing canvases in art store
Plan and buy your painting supports in advance


  • Consider limiting yourself in some way - by size (perhaps sketching only in an A5 sketchbook or 7x5 panels) by colour choices (maybe a Zorn or tertiary palette) or medium ( charcoals or oil pastels perhaps). Limitations can be very freeing!

Painting materials with paint on a palette
Consider limiting your materials

  • Choosing a theme can create a cohesive collection and build upon your subject knowledge. I became very familiar with proportions in my recent Sylvanian collection, for example, which made it easier to draw them more efficiently.

Composite photo of Strada Challenge Sylvanian Families paintings
Strada Easel Challenge 2024 paintings


  • If you sell your work direct, decide on titles ahead of time. Add titles, dimensions and price to your website as a draft ready to add your paintings to.


  • You can even write the content of your posts complete with hashtags in your phone notes in advance, or schedule posts and just drop in the pics before posting.


  • Ensure you have somewhere to dry all the paintings. I use plate racks.



  • If painting in a studio set up, consider and arrange your lighting, and how you might do any process photos or filming of timelapses.

Please bookmark and comment below if you found this blog post useful. Part 2 - What you can do to 'maximise success and reduce stress during a painting challenge' is coming soon. Thanks for reading!


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13 Comments


Guest
Feb 03

Thanks Julie, some great tips. Planning ahead is a great idea, as is having a theme, which I will try next Jan. This year I was much more relaxed because I did most of my paintings over two days. There wasn't the pressure of finishing anything.

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Guest
Feb 02

Some great tips - the challenge was more stressful this January 2024 whereas other times - September 2023 and 2022 and even last January 2023- it has been stimulating and experimental. Your tips on making a plan is a great idea - my plan was to paint outdoors in various locations - but this is not a good plan for January in the UK with rain and cold. Next year I will have a plan for January with still life and interiors and room for experiment. Thanks Julie. 🙂

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Replying to

You're welcome. The weather in the UK can impact motivation to paint outdoors so much can't it! You don't have to be a slave to the plan if the weather is just too tempting either. Perhaps have some local plein air locations up your sleeve so that you can get to them quickly to maximise the short January days. Good luck next time! Julie

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Guest
Feb 01

Very useful tips 🌟 I’ve always assumed I don’t have time to do daily challenges but maybe with a bit of planning it’s possible!

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Replying to

Glad you found them useful. Watch out for part 2 and 3 and hopefully you'll feel confident to find a way to manage a challenge in the future. Thanks for reading, Julie

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Guest
Feb 01

Very interesting Julie, I mentally plan ahead and prep all my boards but hadn’t thought of physically writing down what and where I plan to paint. I usually just wing that bit! Will try to plan more in September 😊

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Replying to

Planning makes a difference doesn't it! 31 days of remembering where you'd thought about going or what you were going to paint is quite challenging in itself, so maybe a written plan might help. Watch out for the next post on "during" and "after" for more tips. Best wishes Julie

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Such good advice! Would have helped me on strada easel, also inktober and 100 heads. Looking forward to the next one xxx

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You're very welcome Gail - hopefully these ideas can help ease the pain next time! Best wishes, Julie

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