75 Day Sketch Challenge

During the summer, I finally signed up for classes at SketchBook Skool after pondering them for way too long. The first class I signed up for was “seeing.” It had some of my very favorite sketchers like Danny (who is in all the classes, of course) and Brenda Swenson and Cathy Johnson and Andrea Joseph. Once all the people I loved were on the list, I just couldn’t not sign up.

When it was Brenda Swenson’s week, she shared with us what she calls the 75-Day Sketch Challenge. The way the challenge works is that you have:

  • Complete 75 drawings in 75 days. If you miss a day, you have to do two the next, etc. You have 75 days total.
  • You can only use black or blue pen.
  • You can use any technique, size, and subject you want.
  • No pencil allowed. No exceptions.

I will say I was quite intimidated. I have never not used a pencil. The pen was scaring me. But I decided to tackle it anyway.

For the first few days I used a fountain pen. I liked the very first drawing but really disliked all the consequent ones. Here are the first few:

That was the first 14 sketches. Then I decided to use a ballpoint pen instead (thanks to Andrea) and I realized I liked it so very much better.

After a few more days, I started to feel uninspired. I was tired and out of ideas.

I contemplated quitting a bunch of times. Then we went camping and I drew some in the car:

and something simple at the campground:

and then our tent:

and while the boys took a walk, I drew a camper nearby:

I tried to draw Jake’s shoes:

but i hated it so i decided it didn’t count as #31 and drew these penguins instead:

I then tried to draw my mixer and didn’t have much success even though I tried twice:

then I tried my neighbor’s house:

then i got frustrated again. the next few are small and inconsequential:

and the car across the street:

and another neighbor’s house:

then i drew the counter at McDonalds and some scissors and the Advil bottle. I was running out of ideas indeed.

then I drew the smaller items on my table:

and the mini grill in the backyard:

i felt like each time i took a step forward, i was taking two steps backward:

then i drew more items from my desk:

a spoon and a knife that i hated:

some more not-so-great drawings:

then some more desk items like brushes and knives and scissors:

even when i didn’t have time, i tried to draw something, however small.

i drew this knife as i was waiting for the kids to get out of class.

and for the final two, I drew Nathaniel’s flip flops and some pliers.

And there we are 75 sketches in 75 days. Zero pencil!

Even though I dislike as many as I dislike, I am very proud to have accomplished this many days in a row and I am no longer afraid of just starting with a pen!

8 comments to 75 Day Sketch Challenge

  • Tiffani

    This is great, Karen! I know practice is the way to get better, but struggle to make it happen. You are inspiring. I think the drawings are good, in part because they represent some things about you – commitment and self-discipline to name a few! Thank you for sharing them and your experience with this.

  • Cheryl

    Some of the sketches are really good! Quite obviously thinking about drawing 75 sketches without a pencil could be overwhelming. However, you succeeded!

  • I admire your follow-through when you want to learn something or get better at something. My drawing skills just look like doodles, but I’d love to be able to draw recognizable objects that *don’t* look like doodles. Whether I will commit to doing this in 2015, I have yet to decide.

  • dawn

    Awesome and good for you following through and YAY for drawing only with a pen!

  • Rebecca

    They look great! I need to try this. I’ve always only done pencil sketching too.

  • these are fantastic. your shading, the different pen strokes, your shadows. i think they are super detailed. all the ones you dislike, i think that’s good, why doesn’t she like it?

  • This is great, Karen! I might do this challenge in 2017! I know practice is the way to get better, but struggle to make it happen. You are inspiring. I think the drawings are good, in part because they represent some things about you – commitment and self-discipline to name a few! Thank you for sharing them and your experience with this.

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