Wednesday, September 26, 2012

75 Day Sketch Challenge: Completed!

I did it! I finished the 75 Day Sketch Challenge. I am now an official National Artist with my very own Artistic License!

Okay, it may be a little silly, but it sure got me drawing last summer!

Many thanks go out to Brenda Swenson for offering the challenge and encouraging people to dive into drawing in a big way. The "Artistic License" that she awards to everyone who completes the seventy-five day challenge is just a fun way to motivate people to draw.

I started the challenge on June 8 and did my final sketch (shown above) on August 22, 2012. Every day I drew directly in ink in my sketchbook (as stipulated in the challenge rules) - no pencils or erasers were allowed. I also added watercolor to most of the sketches.

Here's how I benefited from doing the challenge:
  • My drawing skills improved.
  • I learned to observe my subject carefully before putting pen to paper. 
  • It taught me to pay close attention to the relationships between objects, observing how one thing relates to another in size, angle, and placement in space.
  • I was inspired to create new page layouts, since I was using the same 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" sketchbook for the entire challenge, and I wanted to introduce some variety into my compositions.
  • I tried out new lettering styles.
  • I learned that there are no excuses for not drawing. It's not easy to be consistent and sketch every day, but it is possible. It just takes determination and commitment, and a few minutes out of every twenty-four hours.
  • I conquered my fear of tackling things that are "hard to draw," like hydrangeas!
  • It inspired me to pass on my love of sketching by teaching two sketchbook journaling classes. 
  • It gave me an excuse to spend long hours drawing and painting.
I still struggle with my tendency to want to make every sketch a perfect little gem, but I've realized over the past few months that drawing something - anything - no matter how imperfect, crooked, lopsided, or misproportioned that drawing might be, is always better than drawing nothing at all.

I've filled one and a half Stillman and Birn Alpha Series sketchbooks with my challenge sketches, and I plan to continue to sketch directly in ink to finish filling the second one. I like the idea of finishing it in the same manner that I started.

I hope the stories of my struggles and triumphs over the past few months of sketching will encourage you to try a 75 Day Sketch Challenge of your own one day. It was a creative boost for me, worth every minute I put into it.

If you would like to see all seventy-five of the challenge sketches, stop by my online gallery and check out the "75 Day Sketch Challenge" album.


  1. Okay - So I have just looked through all 75 sketches. I was expecting a gradual improvement but quickly realised that your sketching abilities were already extremely good from day one, so there wasn't really any improving to actually do! My favorite - and I have no idea why - is the ginger cake! It immediately makes my mouth water and I love the plate! Tell me - were all of these drawn from life? Or were some from photographic references? I'd love to do this myself because I get so lost in full on paintings that I neglect to sketch nearly as often as I should!

    1. I love the ginger cake, too! Everything just came together perfectly on that one. To answer your question... I drew all of the sketches from life. For a few of them, like the beach people or the bluegrass festival, I snapped pictures and added more people to the original sketch later on. Most of them were painted in my studio from photo references, as I usually don't have a big chunk of time to complete the drawing and painting in one sitting. I run into my studio and add a little something to a page, then get back to work on my sewing, or making dinner, or whatever. The ginger cake was painted from life as the whipped cream slowly deflated and melted into the cake. I had to paint quickly - that's probably why it has a freshness that some of the others lack.

      I hope you will start to sketch more and perhaps do the 75 day challenge. Sketching is so different from working on a large painting. Immediate gratification and a whole lot of fun!

      (Sorry it took me so long to answer your comment. For some reason, none of these blog comments showed up in my regular email. Thanks for keeping in touch.)

  2. Congratulations! I think I'll try it when current projects calm down..By the way, Leslie, I did do my post on sketching in museums as I mentioned to you, do come over, leave a note if you like!

  3. Wow, you wasn't until reading this post that I really felt that I can do this challenge.
    I've been putting it off for some time now, but you have inspired me to just jump in, I Definitely could use the benefits this challenge will provide. Thank you for being here at the right moment. :-)

  4. I'm going to do it! I just sketched the lamp here in the motel room in Sedona where we are staying after attending a wedding yesterday. Tomorrow hope to stop at an art store in Phoenix to get a 4x6 drawing pad to dedicate to it. I'm a beginner and I like to make small sketches of everyday things. This will be really good for me. Then we fly home to Altoona, Pa. I am enjoying your blog which I discovered through the FB
    Artist's Journal.

    1. Good for you! I'm so glad you're going to give it a go. Just have fun with it and don't stress over mistakes. You'll learn so much and be really glad you made the time. Keep me posted!

  5. Congratulations on completing all 75 days! It's been a treat following along.

  6. CONGRATULATIONS! This is quite a milestone - determination and follow-through.


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