12 Tips for the Index-Card-a-Day Challenge!
"The Moon arose, she shone upon the lake, which lay one smooth expanse of silver light. She shone upon the hills and rocks, and cast upon their hollows and their hidden glens a blacker depth of shade."
Life is a roller coaster! Art helps keep me a little more balanced. So I do art because I have to, I need to, I love to. ✂️🕵🏻♀️🏳️🌈📿 Years ago I noticed that participating in challenges, setting mini-goals and mini-constraints makes the creative process more fun. 🤣 I discovered that I generate more ideas when I participate and I tend to do MORE art in total. And I like that!
There's an über-optimistic energy to the start of a creative challenge. So much potential. As you contemplate what to create, I encourage you to have an open mind as to how this 61-daily-card-goal will come to fruition. I never ever know where ICAD will lead, but it is always a surprise even after completing the challenge for the last seven (7) years! Some years I start thinking that all I want to do is collage for the next decade, and quickly I remember my beloved PITT pens and the intricate challenge of drawing mandalas.....
An index card is a place to keep creative ideas, compositions, textures, secret messages, colors, palettes, quotations, plans, lists, patterns, riddles, codes, designs, doodles, marks & words. In other words, a container....
Twelve (12) tips for the challenge ahead
1. While you go about your day, dream up ideas for your small daily creative project. If you are interpreting the prompts, let the prompt simmer in your mind.
2. The world is complicated. ICAD is not. This is just you and a simple card. It's a starting point. I encourage you to let yourself experiment!! There are no grades, awards, auditors, goddess certifications or medals involved in ICAD.
3. Proactively decide what you will do if you miss a card. I suggest that you TRY to do a card every day 🏋🏼♀️ but if you miss a day, make some chamomile tea and reboot. Maybe you could do an extra card early in the challenge so that you have a fallback option? Or make two the next day or scatter a few extras somewhere between then and the ending gate. Also, an extra card gives you a cushion if you get sick or a loved one is ill or the baby isn't in the mood to nap.
4. Start with a 100-pack of index cards. They are not even low risk -- they are no risk! Not precious or perfect in any way. We're not working on Italian gold-foil, hand-crafted, citrus perfumed, hot-pressed, dahlia-infused watercolor paper. Wait, is there such a thing?
5. Do you want to rewind or fast forward your mix tape [trivia: that was prompt #1 for the 2016 challenge]? After 61-cards what do you want to be able to do? Pursue an idea or a series or go with the flow? Add structure to your work? Evolve your style? Focus your energy? Loosen up? Try different palettes? Work with a new type of brush? What do you want to do better?
6. Make yourself a little checklist in your Midori/Hobonichi/DIY planner so you won't forget.
A creative project ALWAYS brightens my day.
7. If some aspect of your life is really difficult at present, keep your cards simple so that they don't feel like another assignment or weight. Let this tiny daily project support you and renew your energy!!! Keep it fun & playful and you'll look forward to your art time.
8. Make an ICAD art emergency kit with a dozen index cards, a roll of colorful japanese washi tape, a UHU glue stick, kid scissors [blunt-nib for airplane travel], mini-stapler [filled with staples!], a few black PITT pens in varying nib sizes, a handful of Sakura Gelly Rolls, some magic markers, a few colored pencils, and a mini pencil sharpener. For collage papers, keep a magazine in your car, but if you are traveling simply collect free ephemera along the way [museum maps, brochures, free hotel postcards, ticket stubs...]. That way if the car needs a new battery or you have a last-minute business trip or you find yourself in the hospital waiting room, you can bring your little ICAD emergency kit and draw or doodle. It's good to have options.
PS. If you are traveling, don't forget to bring along a small to medium-sized journal. Some ideas? A 3x5" field notes journal with plain paper, dot graph paper [I'm thinking about this one with a leather cover] or perhaps a 3x5" Moleskine with watercolor paper or maybe a 5x8" Moleskine drawing journal. Inside, you can use washi tape or a glue stick to make collages from the found items you collect, plus you can draw and doodle with those pens and markers!
9. You can start something completely new AT ANY POINT during the challenge. Don't make your own rules so confining that you hamper your own progress. Switch to a new medium. Switch to a new topic. Start following prompts. Stop following prompts.
10. Start with something that interests you. Draw buddhas! Draw sailboats! Do blind contour drawings! Learn Spanish verb conjugations! Create psychedelic doodles! Make monochromatic collages!
11. You might not get to 61 before July 31. But it will be a valuable process nonetheless. It's a LONG challenge. And you can get sidetracked or completely knocked off track. Lots of folks get to 17 or 41 or whatever... and yet.... tell me that they ENJOYED the process and got a great BURST of ➥ creative energy ➦ and so even if you aren't tracking to 61, keep going!!!
12. There's a natural flow to the challenge. Starting is super fun! After the first 2 weeks there's a very good chance that you'll hit a plateau where you really have to push to stay on track. That's the most difficult part!!! It takes time to get into the groove. But suddenly there will be a break-through and you will feel like it's second nature to create something each day. That's the goal, my friends, to incorporate a positive creative habit into your daily life.
13. Capture a photo of your work with your phone; for a great shot, photograph in natural light near a window; if the weather is cooperating, snap the photo outdoors in the morning or late afternoon. You can place your art on a table on top of a white sheet of paper, hold the camera|phone above the artwork with the lens parallel to the surface of your index card.
14. Make a proactive advance plan to continue working on something creative AFTER the challenge ends! I cannot overstate the importance of having something to do post-ICAD. You might start a Japanese cooking class, pick up a neglected embroidery project, learn how to decipher sewing patterns or paint the front of a hardback book that you turn into a journal. When you are in the creative groove, keep going!
15. It's always fun to use ICAD as permission to try new-to-you techniques and art materials!
About the Index-Card-a-Day Challenge
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