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30 Day challenge benefits - tips for intermediate artists

Updated on October 24, 2020
Favorites from January 2017 challenge
Favorites from January 2017 challenge

Why do challenges

There are many artists doing 100 day challenges these days. Wow, that really is a challenge. But you can derive many of the same benefits from doing a more manageable 30 day challenge. Drawing/painting 30 paintings in 30 days challenges usually run in a month format.

If possible, try to find a formal challenge group, usually they will have a FB page for social media daily posts with other artists walking the same journey. Be sure to post there and on your sites. This daily post and others responses to your creations will keep you disciplined, giving you encouragement and feedback which helps keep you motivated.

While you don't have to complete 30 paintings in 30 days, you should try to do as many as possible. It is even acceptable for you to do WIP days - whatever works for you to get in and do some daily drawing/painting.


1) You want to establish the daily painting habit, happens in first 2 weeks

2) You want to enforce that habit, happens 3-4 weeks

3) You want to make yourself plan and execute paintings with a deadline.

Favorites from February 2020 Challenge
Favorites from February 2020 Challenge

Getting ready for the challenge

Again it isn't necessary, but it sure does help a lot if you decide on a theme for your paintings. It takes out some of the question about what am I going to paint today. It also makes you feel familiar and comfortable with the subject you are painting. That familiarity allows you to paint faster and explore and play with other media than you might normally use, new techniques, different color palettes, painting with a palette knife, etc.

Also suggest that prior to the start date you paint 2-3 paintings. These are your fall back for those days your head is going to explode and you want to quit. Use one of these and take your breather day before you get back on the horse and ride again tomorrow.

You can precut paper, collect canvas, get collage scraps or gesso your sketchbook pages. Some folks do all their paintings the same size for easy framing after the fact. Get supplies organized and out or easily found, be sure you have plenty of white paint (it goes really fast). Be ready every day when you go to your art space to immediately start painting/drawing projects. Don't give yourself any excuses or easy outs because you can't find your supplies or have to cut paper, blah, blah, blah - I know, been there, seen it, done it!!

Pull together your reference pictures and even go so far as to organize them into an album on your computer. If you are really anal you can assign days to do them, but I like the ability to go with what strikes me that day. Always give yourself extras because while you may have liked them once doesn't mean you will actually use them. We see and react to the same photos differently from day to day.

Favorites from September 2019 challenge
Favorites from September 2019 challenge

Challenge mindset - NO MASTERPIECES

Yes, this may stress you out. If you don't paint 30 paintings, it's ok, try to have fun and do as much as you can. But try to do something daily.

You want to post on your various social media sites daily. It becomes something you look forward to and the feedback from friends and art buddies will sustain and motivate you. They will help you over the bumps in the road.

Adjust your attitude - remember that these are just paintings, they are not going to be masterpieces or finished paintings. No you aren't going enforce painting daily errors or bad habits. As a matter of fact highly recommend that you work in smaller sizes as they give you practice but are easy and faster to complete. Don't intimidate yourself, relax on highly detailed projects or super sized paintings (unless you are comfortable working with a house painting brush).

What you really want to accomplish here is getting into the art space and creating something daily. The first two weeks you are establishing the daily painting habit and the next two weeks you are reinforcing it.

Depending on how many times you have done this type of challenge will determine when you hit the "I can't do it" wall. Even if you are a very proficient painter, you will hit that wall. Because even if we say we won't pressure ourselves, that does always happen because we are forcing ourselves to try to complete 30 paintings.

The reason I suggested you preplan and paint 2-3 paintings is that when you hit that wall you can either wobble your way through it or use one of your preplanned paintings and take a day off breather. But definitely keep on painting and work your way through the entire 30 days.

Can't begin to describe the feeling of accomplishment when you are on day 31 doing your collage. You just painted and created so much more than you would have if you didn't challenge yourself. Matter of fact you will feel a bit funny for several days after the challenge because you aren't creating and posting daily.

Experimenting and practice gets you to the next level
Experimenting and practice gets you to the next level

10 Benefits of doing 30 paintings in 30 days

Ok, you do put yourself under pressure and stress. But part of this forcing yourself to do this is going through the steps to gain the benefits that will propel you to the next steps in your journey. Speed of selecting subjects and painting faster is some of the best by-products of this challenge.

After you get through the 30 days, lay your work out and take a long look at it. On Day 31 you usually will do a collage. Collages help as you will see everything on-screen which helps you be more objective, it detaches you to really see what you created. You agonized and painted maybe about 28 so-so paintings but yes, oh yes, there are a couple that have potential or are pretty darned good.

The ongoing benefits you can get out of a 30 day challenge are pretty amazing:

1) You got to practice, practice, practice - you made inroads on painting 10,000 miles on paper or canvas

2) These practice and experimenting sessions WILL get you to the next level

3) Because of a daily deadline your decision making and painting becomes faster and improves

4) You decided what to paint - you let your creativity loose

5) If you worked with multiple painting/drawing mediums you learned new techniques, brush strokes and some of the strengths and weaknesses of each type

6) You may have combined mediums, creating mixed media, so you learned which mediums plays well together

7) If you had a theme, because you had repetition, when you lay the paintings out, bet you begin to see "your" style

8) You actually have a lot more paintings/drawings than you would have had if you hadn't done the challenge

9) If you were part of a formal challenge you met new artists whose work you admired and probably made 3-4 ongoing friends

10) You have new confidence and skill sets to take with you as you continue to paint.

So take the challenge, 30 paintings in 30 days.


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