Challenge Results Revealed: Process or Product

by Barbara Martin

in Try This

It’s Monday and time for the “secret color challenge with a twist” BIG REVEAL!  Three pieces, ten days, required elements. WITH GRAFFITI!  Just for fun, I’ll let you study the photos and guess the 3 colors and figure out the twist. Yes, there is a quiz!  After that, we can ruminate on the value of doing challenges such as this. Yes, I think there is value!  And then you should check out all the fun things my cohorts (Jordan Hill, Mavis Penney and Beth Wodzinski) did with their versions of the challenge.

First off, I experimented with watercolor paints. I like the effects other people achieve with this kind of paint. But oboy can you say disaster neophyte. Apparently dime store paint and a cheap brush combined with non-specialty paper isn’t the best way to go. Who knew? (snork) Also, I still need to learn my colors because the results here are a little namby-pamby. On the other hand, I had fun smooshing stuff around to see what would happen and watching the paper buckle and curl.

beginner water color painting beginner issues!


Never deterred by lack of success, or more like: this is a challenge so I am doing this no matter what, I moved on to a more familiar format: collage. More precisely, mixed media collage.

the first mixed media collage for this challenge

Once again, color trouble. What looked like purple in the evening late night dimness of my studio is  an inky deep blue by the light of day.

color challenge mixed media collage, artist Barbara Martin the second mixed media collage

As for the supposed color #2, orange tissue paper topped with nominally termed “vermillion” super heavy bodied acrylic paint is the way to go.  Apparently. (And yes there is a third color in there.)


mixed media collage by artist Barbara Martin the third and last collage for this challenge

On the other hand, these were fun to do!  I love pressing them in a big fat book and then taking them out to see what transpired on the page while they were hidden!

Last but not least, let’s give a shout out to graffiti, shall we?! 

acrylic on board, artist Barbara Martin Calligraphy doodle graffiti style! (acrylic on board)


This took me right back to my teenage doodling days. So soothingly meditative to do, I could do this all day – and I nearly did. (Oops, time management strikes again!  But the relaxation helped bring my shoulders down off the top of my ears. And being in flow feels so good.)  Again a bit iffy on color –apologies to my challengers! — with soft pastel orange and pale velvety purple, however the third one is as requested. Flip side, it’s so barely there that it only shows up in the photo if you squint hard. Sigh. These colors were another experiment, this time watercolor pencil in the true color topped with a heavy bodied white acrylic – consistency of butter — it felt so luxurious working them together on the board. Followed with my favorite crisp glossy black liquid acrylic. Yum.

Did you figure out the colors?
Colors: Purple. Vermillion. Sky blue.

Did you figure out the twist? Need a hint? TEXT.

We included three words, one or more at a time: life, energy, passion.

Again I found this meeting challenge took a solid effort, even though we were tasked with only three pieces instead of five. Again I had trouble envisioning the three colors together yet they grew on me by the end of the challenge. Interesting how familiarity can change perception.

The main issue for me this time was maintaining focus in the face of some distracting “in real life” uncertainties. Nothing dire, but enough upheaval to throw me off my game.  The spirit of a challenge, a due date, and the desire not to let my co-conspirators down kept me going.

Also, I realized, I really didn’t want to let myself down. That last one is probably the most important, in retrospect. Taking myself seriously as an artist  is huge.  Let’s just say my “stay focused” muscle got a hefty workout. Which is a good thing because I just may need it in spades going forward over the next couple of months.

The other cool aspect of this challenge? It’s truly about the process, not the product. I am happy to show you suboptimal results (some might call ’em flops) along with the ones I personally find pleasing, mainly because they are the result of showing up, and doing the work.  In other words, commitment.

I can’t improve my skills or develop as an artist without putting in the chair time. Do I believe it takes the nominal 10,000 hours? No, not particularly. But it does take steady effort and being willing to keep going: working at the edge of our ability lets us grow.

So far, each challenge has shown me something useful. For that I am so grateful to my challengers — along with the fun of being in cahoots!!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the reveal. And thank YOU to Jordan, Mavis and Beth for crowd sourcing the parameters of this challenge and for playing along. Please check out what my fabulous challengers have been up to — and their smart commentary about doing a challenge like this.

Jordan Hill

Mavis Penney

Beth Wodzinski




{ 1 comment }

Jordan Hill July 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Barbara! I love all of it! As soon as I saw the watercolor, I was instantly inspired. Honestly. I love the graphicness of it, even if it wasn’t YOUR favorite. We’re always our own worst critic. I think my favorite collage of yours is the first one; it takes a lot of talent and gradual growth to be able to arrange things in a way that is so pleasing to the eye. Plus, your graffiti art is amazing! I’ll have to try something like that sometime. Thanks for doing this challenge with me!


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