Thursday, March 3, 2016

creative challenges, drawing with your opposite hand, and art for IF

I've been thinking a lot about creative challenges lately. Not the challenges we face while doing creative work, but challenges that push your creativity, like inktober, Illustration Friday, PiBoIdMo, and NaNoWriMo, to name a few. (Note: I have participated in all of these challenges in the past and maybe will in the future too.)

Many artists and writers also come up with their own creative challenges that fit what they need to work on at the time. In the past, I've made art for wacky and traditional holidays and did drawings every day for a year as a creative project. I did the year long project two years in a row, the first year was drawing cows and the second was dogs (I almost added a third year). 

7 Reasons To Do A Creative Challenge:
1. It could push your art in new directions. Every time I've done a challenge, it's expanded my art in ways I never would have imagined.

2. You could have fun. Writing or making art that's not for a specific project but just for playing around, like you used to do when you were a kid or you just started being serious about it, can be freeing.

3. It could give you a break from a project that is giving you the other kind of creative challenge (meaning frustrating).

4. Creativity begets creativity. Writing and making art can lead to new ideas and/or help renew your passion for making art and writing.

5. It can give you a sense of community in a field where you sit alone at your desk most of the time. There are many online challenges, like the ones above, where you can talk with others doing the same thing and cheer each other on.
6. Announcing your goals publicly may help you to achieve them, either with people checking in on you along the way to ask about your progress, or the fear of embarrassment if you have to admit that you didn't do what you said you would.

7. For personal projects that you don't announce, it can help you work toward a goal or give you a sense of satisfaction for accomplishing something you wanted to do.

Have you ever tried writing and/or drawing with your opposite hand?
Recently, one of my creative challenges has been to draw with my opposite hand. The first time I tried this was in college, and it was because I had to after I broke my right elbow. It didn't last long because I was very bad at writing and drawing with my left hand (which challenged me to find a way to write and draw with my right arm in a cast). Over the years, I've come back to this challenge. It fascinates me just how hard it is to draw and write with the opposite hand. I've gotten better over the years, but it's still nothing like drawing with my right hand.

This week I drew a village for an Illustration Friday prompt. I drew it with my left hand. I haven't been able to do a sketch ahead of time left-handed, so this was drawn by starting with one house and seeing what happened. Here's the black line drawing of my village:


The lines are a bit wobbly, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately, then I decided I would try to color the drawing, with colored pencil.

Coloring a drawing with colored pencils with your opposite hand is a nearly impossible feat physically (at least for me - YMMV). The reason it was so hard is because I don't have complete control over what I'm doing when I use my opposite hand. It's like learning to draw all over again. (Note: I totally get why kids drawings look the way they do now!) Don't know if I'll do any left-handed coloring in the future, but if I do, maybe I'll try a different medium, like paint. Here's my village all colored in:


It really looks like it's a picture I pulled out of my file of art I did when I was a kid!

There's another creative challenge I just started, but am not sure I'm going to complete it, so I'm not going to announce it just yet. The reason I'm might not finish it is because I'm not yet sure if it's a worthwhile project that will help my creativity, or one that will just take up time without any benefits.

Not every creative challenge is worth finishing.

But it is worth trying creative challenges. Sooner or later you're bound to find one that spurs your creativity and takes your work to someplace you didn't even know it could go.

What creative challenges have you tried? 

Which ones worked for you, or didn't?

Hope you enjoy your next creative challenge! (Or your first one if you've never done one before!)

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