by Virginia Simpson-Magruder
Magic can happen!
Now, I’ve never been what you call a self-disciplined person. I guess I’m a true right brainer — my awareness is usually grappling with multiple ideas and random thoughts: Where do those birds nest at night? What color should I paint my office walls? Should I take a walk to see the Mother Tree? My cat needs brushing — I wonder what I could do with the fur? Etc., Etc., Etc.. Then my left brain attempts to make sense of it all and navigate a course to get things done in time — or done at all. Guilt, self-judgment, and self-abusive thoughts are often for me the final motivators of getting practical things done. It has not been easy. Sigh.
Then one day I went online to see what people were doing with collage and I ran across a few art challenges people had set for themselves and/or others. I saw Leah’s Creative Every Day Challenge but it was too late to sign up for it (or I felt too timid). Since I figured that “self-discipline” was what I was severely lacking in my personality — and I had a sincere desire to express myself through the arts — why not set up a challenge for myself? I would eliminate the fear of participating with others (What if I fail?), and I could work at my own pace. And see what would happen and where it would take me.
And that’s what I did. I set myself the goal of creating one collage a day in a small journal. I gave it a name — “Daily Journal Page Challenge”, and I’d keep it simple and do it every day. For a year. That’s where I didn’t give myself any leeway. I figured it would take a year to really show me what I wanted to know. And I also started an art blog to record the process. And I scanned every day’s journal spread then posted the photo on the blog. For a year.
It was amazing.
From an art perspective doing this challenge: broadened my techniques and expanded upon them; showed me just how creative I was (each of the 365 days I created something unique); awakened my sense of style and developed my eye; developed my confidence as an artist (enough that I felt ready to open an art studio in a community center). And most of all doing this challenge reinforced the joy I felt when I was creating — the “Heart of Art”. It’s a feeling that spills over into my daily life.
The one thing that was missing was a community — so in addition to continuing my challenge I Leah’s Art Every Day Month (a 30-day challenge held in November). I’m so glad I did because it gave me a month to get in front of more artists, and I got a lot of positive feedback and support, and I didn’t feel so alone out there.
Whether you decide to take on a challenge privately or publicly — there are an infinite number of art challenges currently on the internet that you can look at to give you ideas — or join in on. Just Google “art challenge” and see if there is one that strikes your fancy.
Great news — in February 2015 I am releasing an online course called “Your Daily Creative Practice: Making 30 Pocket-Sized Collages to Grow Your Creativity.” In this 4-week self-paced course I will be sharing all of the techniques and tips I used in my Daily Journal Page Challenge so you can participate in and set up a challenge for yourself. Registration has opened so go check it out here!