It’s time to begin the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge! I’m sharing my first painting which was way outside of my comfort zone. As well, I’m sharing how I prepared and some new tools and art supplies.
The 52 in ’22 Art Challenge Begins!
The last post I published in December before my winter break was to introduce my personal 52 in ’22 Art Challenge and to invite everyone else to join me. If you missed that post, you can check out all the details and FAQs HERE. But I’ll briefly recap here too:
Since starting my blog, I rarely found time to paint and I was really only comfortable painting small landscapes. For 2022, I decided that I wanted to schedule regular time to create art, and to encourage myself to experiment and grow as an artist. Therefore, I designed an art challenge for myself with prompts for each week of the year.
Then I decided to share the challenge so everyone can join. It’s a very flexible challenge where prompts can be adapted, completed in any order, and at any pace with any medium. The main idea is just to create art and enjoy yourself. And if you choose to join in, you can also choose to share your work with #52in22ArtChallenge.
Now that it’s finally 2022, I’ve formally begun my own personal version of the challenge. And I’m so thrilled that others have decided to join as well. If you’d still like to participate, you can find your own copy of the prompt sheet at the bottom of this post, or at the bottom of the previous Art Challenge post. And it’s never too late to join!
Art Supplies and Tools
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Before I share my first work of art, I thought I’d share a few new tools and supplies I’ve recently bought or received as gifts, and how I prepared for the challenge.
Keeping it Economical
I want to re-iterate that the challenge is not meant to require you to purchase top-of-the-line art supplies or a ton of new things beyond what you already own.
My preference is to work on a small scale (5 x 7″ or 4 x 6″ mostly) on canvas pad sheets or gessoed index cards, etc. These small, thin surfaces are easy to store, and are cost effective. Small paintings also require less paint and can be completed in shorter sessions. As well, if I experiment and don’t like the results, it matters less on a 4 x 6″ card than on a large, expensive canvas.
I also like to keep a limited selection of inexpensive brushes and a limited palette of oil paints to work with. To read more about some of the products I use or recommend for starting out, you can check out the post: How to Set Up a Small Space Home Art Studio on A Budget.
New Tools and Supplies
While I like to keep my art supplies minimal, I did recently acquire a few new items. In the fall, I realized that I needed a new way to organize and store some of my art supplies. As I use my small office desk for painting, I need to be able to switch back and forth between computer work and art supplies easily. I searched a number of places for a vintage wood tool caddy.
I ended up finding one I really liked on Ebay and ordered it. It has great patina and vintage nails holding it together. I liked the divided sections and the handle in the middle. And it is a great size for my purposes. Right now it sits in the corner of my desk every day so it’s always ready to go. But if I need more room on my desk, I can just grab it and move it somewhere else for a while.
Now I want to try to keep all my small art supplies in it, and I hope that will encourage keeping things minimal so they still fit. I also had a new bottle of odorless solvents that I hadn’t opened yet. I found a mustard jar that I washed out before putting the solvent in. Then I labelled it with my new Dymo label maker.
As part of improving as an artist, I want to learn to make value sketches before I paint – or at least some of the time. But I didn’t really have appropriate materials. I chose an Amazon Basics set of drawing and charcoal pencils which includes a few other supplies. For now, I put them in small, glass mason jars in my caddy.
As well, I chose a very small sketchbook that’s 3.5 x 5.5″, which is similar to the size of my paintings. It’s a great pocket size and would also be great for taking out on walks to the forest.
The sketchbook is the Hand-book Journal Co. Pocket Landscape Drawing Book 3.5 x 5.5″ in Vermillion Red, by Speedball.
I also asked for a few art supplies on my Christmas list this year. One was a brush rest as I have been laying my brushes on my palette and sometimes they roll back through the paint.
The one I received is the cutest handmade ceramic peacock and it holds brushes between its spread tail feathers.
As well, I’ve been curious about painting on some vintage paper (after priming with Gesso). I know it won’t be acid-free and my paintings might not last as long, but I don’t care that much. My idea was to use paper pages from vintage photo albums, and so I asked for one for Christmas.
The one I got is also from Etsy and came from Bulgaria I believe. I might reuse the fabric-wrapped cover when it’s empty and add paper to create a sketchbook.
The pages are a charcoal grey colour, and there are also charming vellum sheets between every page with a spider web pattern.
Preparing for the Art Challenge
I only did a couple of things to prepare for my personal art challenge. First, I printed the prompt sheet and put it on a clipboard. You can find your own version of the printable prompt sheet at the bottom of this post.
Next, I prepared to tone some painting surfaces and prime some with Gesso. I trimmed a large canvas pad sheet into many smaller pieces. The canvas pad is already primed, so I toned those with a mix of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and solvent before wiping off the excess.
I also cut two pages out of the photo album, and found some index card dividers we had lying around. Those got two light coats of Gesso, one with horizontal brushstrokes, and one with vertical brushstrokes. I prepared enough surfaces that I’m set for a couple of months, unless I want a different size.
My First Piece of Art for the Art Challenge
I haven’t painted in a few months and I was feeling pretty rusty and maybe a bit nervous. I figured that a good choice of prompt to begin was taking a free art class. Since I began learning to oil paint from Miss Mustard Seed’s free online classes, I felt that maybe that was a good way to ease back into painting.
I had taken all of her landscape classes when I began painting in July 2020, but there were four classes I hadn’t taken yet. There were two with pears, one of flowers in a vase, and one a cow. I don’t know about you, but whenever I try to draw farm animals, I revert back to childish, cartoon-style drawings. So, the cow was intimidating for that reason, but also because it was a larger painting than I’ve ever done before.
But the cow appealed to me the most, so I nervously decided to go for it. After only ever painting landscapes, I would try to paint a cow. I chose an 8 x 10″ canvas (smaller than the recommended 9 x 12″ canvas) and toned it with the others the day before I wanted to paint.
Now, ordinarily, I like to paint in the morning because I’m less tired and I like the light. But I had my booster shot that morning and therefore couldn’t paint until the afternoon.
Once I made it part of the way through the class and my painting, I was convinced that it was going horribly and that I should probably just stop. (I was also starting to feel pretty tired by this point). But I had to chuckle to myself that right when I was having serious doubts, Miss Mustard Seed knew it. She said most people would be having doubts around that point in the process too. And so I carried on.
And you know what? When I was finished, I was pleasantly surprised. There are some anatomy issues from my original drawing, and I’m unhappy with the back legs. But it’s identifiable as a cow, and I like some of the shadows and highlights I created.
So, for my first work as part of the art challenge, I went out of my comfort zone. I didn’t paint a miniature landscape. I painted an 8 x 10″ of a cow. And though I had big doubts during the process, I surprised myself. And now I can’t wait to paint again next week! I’m excited to see what else happens when I encourage myself to try new things.
I may continue to share each piece individually on social media, but on the blog I’ll post the rest of my January pieces together in the first week of February (and each new month thereafter).
Want to Create Your Own Art?
Want to create your own art in 2022? Join me in the art challenge and get your copy of the free printable prompt sheet.
I’d love to see what you’ve created if you’ve started the 52 in ’22 Art Challenge. If you want to do so, share your work on social media with #52in22ArtChallenge and tag me @mixmeasuremake so I can see it. Or leave any comments or questions below.
All the best,