7 Benefits of a Daily Art Challenge

"New peonies, old roses" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Thurmont, MD.   A still life that came about trying "VerMeer lighting" while taking part in a May Daily Photo Challenge. The silver sugar bowl was a "find" of my scavenger hunt at local thrift shops and antique marts.

"New peonies, old roses" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Thurmont, MD.   A still life that came about trying "VerMeer lighting" while taking part in a May Daily Photo Challenge. The silver sugar bowl was a "find" of my scavenger hunt at local thrift shops and antique marts.

The challenge from one of my bonus daughters

Toward the end of April, Lorraine asked if I'd like to take part in a daily photo challenge with her.  We had to post each day's photo to Instagram.

Lorraine's days are full as mom to two young kidlets (grandkids!), as a college student, and wife. Oh yes, Lorraine and her family live about two thousand miles away. She enjoys photography and wants to advance her skills.  She sent me the link to the daily prompts for May.

Of course, I said yes! I did miss the first day because I was deep into hanging artworks for Artomatic@Frederick.  I jumped in, fully committed, on May 2. 

On to the benefits

1.  Commitment to your art.  A lot of folks say they are photographers; yet, they don't create images every day.  The same can be said for painters, jewelers, sculptors, potters, writers, poets.  They label themselves as the artist but don't commit the time to their craft.  It's only by committing AND practicing the craft on a daily basis that improvements develop, skills strengthen and mastery develops.

You know about 10,000 hours of practice that leads to mastery and true craftsmanship, right?  Commitment to a daily challenge helps tick off those 10,000 hours.

2. Finding images that match an "arbitrary prompt" forces you to see differently. Oh yeah, you could use the same ol', same ol' lighting, backgrounds, editing techniques.  And then you'll see nothing new, nothing inspiring, nothing eye-stopping.

The arbitrary prompt FORCES you to step out of your comfort zone, literally and figuratively.

  • I found myself stuck on the low end of a teeter-totter in a playground (yes, you may laugh out loud),
  • laid on my belly in wet grass, and
  • stayed awake for hours into the morning (that's not out of the ordinary for me)...all with the intention to create something different.
"Backlit Poppy Bud" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD

"Backlit Poppy Bud" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD

3. Those arbitrary prompts are a great opportunity to experiment in all sorts of ways.  I decided I wanted to create some still life images. My inventory of backgrounds and props consisted of one handcrafted cutting board made by my brother-in-law and the dishes in my cupboard.

A scavenger hunt of the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Goodwill and Antique Mart yielded wallpaper and contact paper for backgrounds, a silver pitcher, silver sugar bowl/creamer set for a grand total of $9.75.  And seeing all the antiques sparked inspiration for future projects.  I call that a bonus!

The "12:00" prompt gave me reason to experiment with another photographer's suggestions for night photography.  This experiment was a success because I did not like the image produced.  After tweaking the settings on my camera, I produced an image that highlights the effect of a single porch light on the night sky.

"12:00" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD. The final image of an experiment. It is stunning to see the effect of a single porch light on the night sky.

"12:00" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD. The final image of an experiment. It is stunning to see the effect of a single porch light on the night sky.

4.  A daily challenge forces you to be mindful and observant.  The prompt for Day 25 was "unusual".  I was somewhat anxious as I couldn't think of anything "unusual".  I left the house to run errands with the intention "I will see something unusual while I'm out."  

Holy Cow! 

I stopped at the local gas mart to use the automated teller. Right there - before my very eyes - was the guard refilling the ATM from a black gym bag filled with STACKS of rubber banded $20 bills!  (Cue the visions of a television episode in my head.) Click! Got it.

5. Sometimes the daily prompt propelled me out the door.  What I thought would be a simple "one-shot" trip turned into collections of beautiful images.  (See last week's blog post for one collection.)

6.  James Altucher recommends writing a list of ten ideas, daily.  He believes this practice trains your brain to be an "idea machine."  I think the daily prompt can work the same way.  I don't think it is "coincidence" that during the month of May, I have generated all kinds of new (and scary) ideas...including future creative images and marketing ideas.  I have scraps of paper accumulated with all the ideas. I wrote them as they popped into my head.

7.  Do the daily challenge with someone you know.  Believe it or not, it is an opportunity to be vulnerable, to be "real", to be honest.  The daily challenge can be an opportunity to share stories that the other may not know. (pregnant nude model, anyone?)

The Bonus

I got to see great images of my grandkids in their daily lives.  Teaching chess to a friend. Making Halloween cupcakes in May. Bouncing on the trampoline after eight months in a cast. (The doctor gave approval, so don't worry.) The pink princess dress. The daddy pile on.

Did I mention they live about two thousand miles away?

So, there you have it...

Seven benefits of a daily art challenge.  And one great bonus.

Give it a go and then let us know how it went for you!

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

Rebecca

P.S. Most images in these blog posts are available for purchase.  If you see one you like, please contact me for details.

P.P.S.  I'm changing things up around the website.  Take a look at the new Home page.  Other changes will happen as the weeks go by.

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