Many artists and creators talk of doing monthly challenges, or of aiming for a total number of hours, drawings or written words in a set amount of time. After two Inktobers and a Smaugust, I felt confident enough to embark upon a personal project for the entirety of 2018, and that is Daily Dragons. You can find them on my Instagram @artoferbest.
Every day, I must draw a dragon, regardless of other priorities or illness. On average, I spend 30-45 minutes per dragon. Mostly I do them in the mornings. Six month in, I have created 180+ dragons.
Why, though? Is there any benefit?
I tell you, friend, there absolutely is. Many have suggested yearly projects like this, and how I wish I’d partaken sooner! I have found a massive improvement both in my painted creations and in my time management. At the beginning of the year, I struggled to put pencil to paper and create even a simple headshot of a dragon. Now, I create daily a scene or mood, bringing a story to each piece, in colour. In March, I switched from pencil to gouache, and have remained almost solely in paint since.
Prior to this challenge, I would not have been brave enough to go straight in with gouache and paint in the manner of oils or acrylics. Now, I slap paint down willy-nilly, knowing it can be corrected, knowing that, quite honestly, it’s just for fun and doesn’t matter that much. Knowing also that I have a year’s worth of dragons to design, I allow my imagination to run freely. Some of my dragons are rather strange, but that’s okay, I still love them.
And previously, if you’d asked me to squeeze a gouache painting into a pre-planned day, I’d have struggled. But now it’s easily accounted for, easily accommodated. If I can achieve such flexibility for a personal project, surely I can do that for other things, too?
I appreciate that many cannot spare 45 minutes a day to paint a dragon. But how about 10 minutes a day to practice guitar? Or fifteen minutes of meditation every night before bed? 100 words written every day? A three minute stretch routine to loosen up the limbs?
Little by little, creep up your input, until one day, you DO find the time to work on it properly. Even if that takes years, it’s always going to be better than never doing it at all. While at first it may seem like a chore, it quickly becomes a pleasing, manageable task to enjoy every day. And with visual arts, it’s great to be able to flip back through a load of works and think, “Hey, I did all this!”
Will I do another yearly challenge into 2019? Very likely!