I occasionally take part in challenges. I always do the Daily Marker colouring challenge, which is a nice simple “just colour something” type of challenge. And every now and then I’ll take part in random one-off challenges if the theme interests me. But I have never participated in a challenge that has prompts. I think it’s mostly because I look at the prompts and they don’t immediately inspire me and that means it’s going to be hard work from day one. And they generally last a whole month and that’s quite a commitment when there are other things that need doing.
But when I came across “Spring Square-a-thon” on Instagram, I was curious. For a start, it only ran for sixteen days, and the only style requirement was that the creation should be square. The thing that really clinched it for me though: I looked at the prompts and I immediately had ideas for the first three.
Lots of people come up with additional restrictions for themselves: a particular theme or medium to use throughout the challenge. My running thread through all sixteen images (spoiler alert, I did actually complete the challenge) was to include a touch of metallic paint — either gold or silver — somewhere. I don’t love all of the finished pieces, but given that I rarely do any actual painting, I am surprisingly happy with a lot of them and I can see how the others could be improved…
Anyway, enough waffling and on with the first four pictures.
#1 City of Gold
Created with: black and gold acrylic paints
I spent a while searching Google Images for a view of the London skyline that included the river and wasn’t too fussy. I dry-brushed the background to create some interest in the sky and then blocked in the buildings. The river was done with a comb texture brush. The execution could have been a little cleaner, but this definitely belongs in the “like” pile.
#2 Mountain Melodies
Created with: music paper, watercolour paints, acrylic paints, charcoal pencil
As soon as I saw the prompt, I knew that I wanted to find a piece of music to form the shape of a mountain range. I painted a watercolour sky, laid down the collage paper, and then used acrylic paints to create the foreground and add detail to the mountains. Charcoal pencil added more shading and a touch of silver finished off the mountain tops. This turned out just how I wanted it to; maybe a little more contrast would have been good, but I’m happy with it.
#3 End of the Rainbow
Created with: acrylic paints and carbon pencil shading
The original idea for this was a simpler version with the rainbow stripes just meeting the gold circles at the bottom. Then my other half suggested the rainbow could be splashing off the coins and I was going to do that, but then I started painting the rainbow colours running down over the coins instead.
#4 Strawberry Fields Forever
Created with: watercolour paints, gold acrylic paint
I don’t hate this, it’s not awful, but it could have been better. The idea works, but I’m just not skilled enough with watercolours to be in love with the end result.