One of my favorite artists, Tara Leaver, issued a challenge on her blog today to eschew the formulas and blueprints set out by others, to stop procrastinating with the internet and such and find our own solutions to our "problems" and in doing so we are likely to find a multitude of solutions. She challenged herself to draw as many trees as she could on a page in her sketchbook. Drawing a grid with 36 spaces, using no reference images, and working quickly, she drew 36 trees and at the end found that she could have drawn more.
I could swear every blog post she writes is written solely for me. I've taken many classes, online and in person (in a variety of media), over the years from artists who aim to show you their process and produce pictures that look like theirs. It's so tempting when you love and admire the work of an artist to take their class so you can make pictures that look like theirs. I'm guilty of this to a degree. I took Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course last year because I adore her work. I love that she shares her process (in the course that you pay for of course) and I did my best to follow along, but before I even finished my first piece I realized that I couldn't follow her process to a T and find my own voice, too. Part of me would love to paint like her but that's not my style. I saw many lovely paintings come from my classmates but most of them look like Flora's, not like theirs. I want/need to discover my own artistic voice and there are parts of Flora's process I will continue to use (like painting with my fingers!) but I can't allow myself to paint like anyone other than me.
So, Tara's post today about resisting those blueprints and formulas spoke to me and I took her tree challenge. My sketchbook page only had room for 30 trees. I too, worked quickly and used only my imagination, no reference images. I struggled a little with the final 3 but the first ones came pretty easily. It was fun to see the variety and once I was done and looked at Tara's picture I saw that there were ideas I hadn't even thought of. This was fun to do and I'm thinking of other things to do with this challenge. How amazing would it be to fill page after page with images and ideas that could inform even more pieces of art?