Amanda Michele Art


One of the things I miss most about art school is the challenge of it. There was always a new thing to learn and to push me out of my comfort-zone. Six years out, self-directing my own work is obviously much freer and more enjoyable but sometimes the lulls between each breakthrough can feel infinite with that extra motivator.

This is why I started these monthly art challenges. At the end of 2016, I looked at my work and process honestly and thought of ways to push my boundaries. What traps do I fall into over and over? What are some weaknesses in my work? What would be flat out scary to do? Over the course of 2017, I will give myself a new challenge for every month and document my growth and struggle.

I decided to start off with the most fun challenge on my list: Find Unexpected Colors. I love color but as Monet said, “Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” I felt that a lot of my work, although colorful, was rather obvious and I wanted to take it to the next level, mature my color choices a bit and surprise myself (and viewers) with the combinations.


Amanda Michele Art


It started out harder than I expected. There were so many paintings I added layers to only to be bored with my color choices once the paint dried. It was rough. But then I thought about the process of finding the colors. That they didn’t have to be made up. They were out there ready to be documented like a scientist would. So I started writing things down and take pictures whenever I would find an unexpected color combo “in the wild.” This kept me thoughtful when picking colors instead of just going with my gut in the moment of creation. It’s too easy to pick the expected choice when it’s the first thing to pop into your mind.


Amanda Michele Art


Once I tamed my impulsive color choices, the rest came easier. I was surprised actually with the ease each piece came to me and how the whole process seemed to open up. This is just what I wanted from these challenges, a chance to discover something new about my artmaking by pushing it in uncomfortable ways. I feel a freshness in my work and I’m excited (and still pretty terrified) for the rest of the challenges. They only get harder from here.

How are you challenging yourself this year? Do you have an art challenge that I can add to my list? Let me know in the comments!



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