30-Day Draw-What-You-See Drawing Challenge

In order to form a habit of drawing daily, you can participate in or create your own drawing challenge. The thing is, you will never get better at something unless you do something about getting better. In drawing, you can build skill and confidence just by drawing. No matter how good you become, you can always mature in your craft.

Many artists and illustrators challenge themselves with a series of daily assignments. My colleague, Duane Eells, finished up a year of drawing figures and immediately launched another  365-day project of drawing a face everyday. You can see his Instagram posts here.

And, even if you already draw every day, participating in a challenge (like Inktober or The Big Draw LA) will push you to explore new approaches and subject matter.

What’s different about my Draw-What-You-See challenge

I’m launching my first-ever 30-day drawing challenge. I plan to post a new drawing challenge a couple times each year, both for myself to level up my skills, and to encourage you, my readers and students, as well.

What you’ll find that might be different about my approach is that I’m focusing this challenge on direct observation. Rather than drawing from your imagination, which is a viable and popular option, I have made a list of objects you should already have around the house or in your community.

Tips for completing this challenge

Add it to your daily calendar and then follow through on the “appointment”. You can begin this challenge any time. The key is to stay with it for the full 30 days, doing some drawing every day. So schedule your drawing time at the same time every day — during your lunch hour, first thing in the morning, during an afternoon break, or after your evening meal. If you miss a day, just pick up where you left off and keep going. Spend 15-30 minutes on each drawing. You can always go back and add details later.

Use a sketchbook. If you make a journal or sketchbook, you’ll have all your challenge drawings in sequential order and in 1 place. You can observe your progress.

draw-what-you-see-list

Don’t be too concerned about being perfect, being expressive, or developing a style. Just draw what you see, and allow yourself to make mistakes. Correct your angles and proportions, but don’t try to make a perfect drawing each time. Relax and enjoy the process of looking, analyzing and mark-making.

I’ve included a variety of subjects — living, non-living, small to large, to give you a variety of forms. I’ve included some opportunities to include hand-lettering as well. Use whatever medium you’re comfortable with or that’s convenient. Use a sketchbook. Draw from direct observation, not out of your head.

When you finish, you can review your work, and hopefully take up a new drawing project!

The 30-day Draw What You See List:

1. Paper bag
2. Round fruit (apple, tomato, peach, pear, olive, for example)
3. Coffee mug
4. Tea cup and saucer
5. Water/hydration bottle
6. Hardcover book(s) – open and closed, including any lettering on the cover.
7. Pair of shoes or boots
8. Dog, cat, canary, horse, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, or another type of animal or bird
9. Bicycle or motorcycle
10. Tissue box
11. Knife, fork and spoon
12. 5 leaves of different types
13. Potted plant
14. Hat or cap
15. Box of cereal, crackers or cookies. Box is open. Include lettering and design elements.
16. Stuffed animal or toy
17. Your hand (the one you don’t draw with, or use a mirror)
18. Ball (spherical): Softball, baseball, football/soccer ball, basketball, water polo ball, volleyball, for example
19. Paper bag with assorted fruits
20. Purse or backpack
21. Bowls, pitchers or vases
22. Staircase or flight of stairs
23. Car or truck
24. Table and chair
25. Scissors
26. Light bulb
27. Power tool or hand tool
28. Flowers and leaves
29. House, apartment (exterior)
30. Household appliance (blender, vacuum, toaster, for example)

Your Turn:

Will you accept my Draw-What-You-See challenge? If so, share your experiences and discoveries in the comments.


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Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.

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