Challenge No.1

Following our attendance at the acrylic course, my friend Andy recklessly threw down the gauntlet. The idea was that together we would choose a scene to paint in acrylics. On an appointed day, we’d set the timer for 3 hours and paint simultaneously, in ‘real time’. Since there are a couple of hundred miles between our houses, we would convene on FaceTime at the end of the three hours and compare our paintings.

Well, how could I resist? It seemed like an excellent opportunity to get back on the horse after the acrylic course, and we’d no doubt have a laugh comparing our approaches at the end. We were both going to try for a less detailed, more impressionistic style than usual.

Andy kindly shortlisted a few photos, and together we chose a colourful Hong Kong night-time street scene. I’ve tried to find the original photographer, to give credit, but it’s not been easy and I’m still not sure I’ve managed it. (There are so many reblogs and shares on the internet it’s a bit of a minefield to be honest). Anyway, I’d like to extend our thanks to whoever originally shot the image – it was tremendous fun to work with.

On the morning of the challenge Andy and I had a quick FaceTime to compare how we were feeling about getting started (excited, and a little nervous) and then signed off to get on with the task we’d set ourselves. This was the first painting I was going to make with my new Golden heavy body paints. I had my fingers crossed for a decent experience.

I picked a 16×12 inch canvas board. Knowing where to start was tricky. Having chosen turquoise underpainting, I then plunged in with a bunch of good darks for starters. It wasn’t long before I realised that it was becoming hard to tell what was what, so I needed to add in some reds to give more shape to the buildings. Very soon I added the beginnings of the light areas, and then over the course of the next couple of hours repeatedly returned to the darks, mid-tones and lights adding more definition as the picture evolved.  It felt quite haphazard. I normally paint quite fast, and after about 2.5 hours I realised that my strokes were becoming increasingly fiddly, and that it was time to stop.


After the 3 hours was up, we reconvened at our computers. The reveal was a strangely tense moment. Andy had taken a slightly different approach to me, choosing an A2 canvas and a warmer, mellower range of colours. He is always much more methodical than me, and had blocked in his buildings with beautiful luminous colour on top of his underpainting, but he needed more time to finish the picture. Interestingly, we both had struggled with the bottom right of the picture, largely because on the reference photo it was hard to see exactly what was there.

It was so interesting to be able to see how we’d both tackled the same subject, our colour choices and differing techniques, and where we’d chosen to bring out or downplay elements of the scene. Andy later completed his painting, and I’m very pleased that he’s agreed to let me share it on this blog (mine’s on the left, Andy’s is on the right). At the end of the process I felt totally spent, but to be honest, pretty happy at what I’d achieved.

This shared endeavour was very rewarding, as was the opportunity to see how someone else had approached the same subject, and the resulting similarities and differences. Suffice it to say, we’re already planning the next challenge!

21 thoughts on “Challenge No.1

  1. What an amazing adventure…..I love your painting, the colors convey the lighting so well. His lighting does have that rich glow and yet yours is so subtle, I am drawn to both. I really appreciate seeing how you each took a different approach. I could see doing this with another person, raising the bar is always good for the artistic muscles.

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  2. My neighbour and I do the same thing….once a week we paint together. However, she lives just up the road from my house so we paint in my kitchen “art studio”. We set challenges, go on sketching field trips and of course, go to the art supply store….which also counts for a field trip. We critique each other at the end of each session. I can see an improvement in both our work. Love YOUR use of colour…the red is smashing! Very, very good for both. Especially well done, Rebecca!

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    • That’s so good to hear – collaboration is great, isn’t it? Striving collectively for improvement, we are very lucky, aren’t we? I’m really glad you like the outcomes too – thank you very much! 🙂


      • Barb and I both struggle with our “if onlys” but I’m finding we are doing more high fives and fist bumps now…as opposed to saying “Oh, just another crap painting!” It is definitely working for us….I wish you could see Barb’s French sheep herder with his flock. Many, many fist bumps yesterday!!! Yes, Rebecca, collaborating is affirming in honing our skills…and friendship. Who knew??? Grins.

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  3. This reminds me of the photography challenge that Stacy at Visual Venturing does once a month wherein everyone has to process the same photo. This is a much more time consuming, and I would think, a much more creative endeavor. I loved both paintings but slightly prefer your softer interpretation. Great work. Looking forward to more! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Emilio – I reckon that whatever medium you’re working in you can learn something from this kind of shared experience. It was a lot of fun to do, and made me paint ‘out of my comfort zone’ somewhat. I’m really glad you like the outcome! 🙂

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    • Thank you – we really enjoyed the experience, and I’d definitely recommend it if you can find a like-minded friend. I also love to look at what other people are doing…Good luck in your acrylic adventures! 🙂


  4. Both are beautiful, and so very Hong Kong. So interesting to see the responses side-by-side; this process reminds me a bit of school, where you had a subject plonked before you and each had to tackle it – great fun, and so useful! I look forward to round two!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, perceptive comment, Leslie. I think in this picture we were both trying to achieve elements which we tried out on a recent painting course, so more similar than usual. It will be interesting to see how that pans out longer term, as Andy normally takes a much more precise, detailed approach than I do. Time will tell. It’s so good to hear of other people who are working with friends to spur each other on – I think we are rather late to the party! 🙂


  5. Pingback: Challenge No.2 | Stuff and Nonsense

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