The 10 Day Painting Challenge

During the three months that Jorge and I have been voluntarily isolated, I’ve done a good bit of drawing and painting. It has been my salvation some days, as it has been for many of my friends who paint.

Valerie Pickles is one of them; she is the owner / operator of “The Pickled Onion” in Santa Elena, and like almost all accommodation is Mexico, her place has been closed since early March. She sits down with her paint box and heavy paper every day and has become an accomplished water colourist. She was nominated to participate in a facebook painters’ challenge.

Those who accept the challenge must post a photo of an original piece of their own art, every day for 10 days. They should then nominate another artist to carry on with the challenge… for this Valerie chose me. At first I felt daunted by such an idea, but I did accept and I found the experience to be wonderful. Some of this blog’s followers are not facebook users and a few have asked me to post my 10 facebook art posts on the blog. I am happy to do this and also have printed the intro I wrote for each painting.

Day 1 of 10: I am starting facebook’s 10 day long painters’ challenge by posting a favourite of mine. I used vellum paper placed over a textured board and watercolour paint. The raised pattern on the board showed up in my work, but I quite like the effect. The painting now belongs to my niece.

Day 2 of 10: Today I am posting another portrait. I like to think that much of my painting is inspired by my writing. This piece started out as an attempt to portray the protagonist of my novel, “The Woman Who Wanted the Moon”. And when I finished, I realised that the “inspiration” actually had a very real source. Without meaning to, I had painted my sister-in-law.

Painting number 3 of 10: Today’s painting is a Frida… but with a Modigliani influence… I usually paint in acrylic but this is a water colour… I gave it to my great friend and fellow painter, J.B … who is also an unabashed Frida fan.

Painting number 4 of 10: A lot of of you will be familiar with this Frida. In 2015, I wanted to make a portrait of her but something different… I did not want to paint her full face, but if not, how could I include the emblematic eyebrows? I decided that a tatoo would work… I gifed this painting to my son Carlos.

Painting Number 5 of 10: My teacher, Manuel Ontiveros Chan is an accomplished painter in many mediums. He always stresses the importance of capturing light and reflection. I spent more than 2 months painting this green bottle in front of a stained glass window… When I felt I’d done my best, he asked me to repeat the exercise, but I just couldn’t… I never wanted to see that bottle again. But I should have done what he asked. If I ever do, I wonder if it will take me so long?

Painting number 6 0f 10… “A picture paints a thousand words” , and I use my paintings as well as my writing to tell stories … Whimsical “portraits” of my friends and family members’ much-loved homes are a gift I enjoy giving. I did this one for my brother-in-law on Fathers Day 2018. See? I included the family dog and two cats in the foreground as well as the “big green egg” (Craig’s barbeque) that’s sitting on the porch, waiting to get fired up.

My granddaughter Emma when she was just 2 months old
“The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer

Painting Number 7 of 10. Inspiration for a painting can come from many sources. When my granddaughter was just 2 months old, her dad sent me a photograph he took. Right away I was struck by how her expression mirrored that of the subject in one of my favourite paintings, “The Girl with a Pearl Earring”, by Johannes Vermeer.



IMG_4612 (1)
My portrait of Emma as the “Baby with No Pearl Earring”.

And so I painted Emma as “The Baby with NO Pearl Earring”. I used pastel on cardboard, and so I may redo the painting in acrylic on a proper canvas… one of these days…

Painting Number 8 of 10. Another of my favourite artists is Marc Chagall. His surrealist style in both stained glass and oil painting constantly evolved through his nearly 100 years of life. The piece I am featuring today is my own design but it was inspired by Chagall. As I worked, I realised that the composition of a surrealistic painting is extremely challenging. And in fact, since finishing this one, I have not attempted another. I will though…

Painting Number 9 of 10: Of the many skills needed in painting, capturing light is the most important. My teacher Manuel Ontiveros Chan agrees and he says that reproducing a painting by one of the great masters of art helps to better understand the process. I chose “Palacio Mula”from Claude Monet’s Venice collection. The exercise did help me learn how to build light colour over dark to acheive depth. I donated this piece to an auction at MEL and my good friend, Nancy W. now has it in her house …

Painting Number 10 of 10. Today’s featured painting is one I’ll use on the cover of a children’s book I’m writing. It is the story of a young girl who knows she must be brave to achieve her potential… but she worries she’ll get hurt. Most creative people feel this way about allowing their work to be seen. On one hand we want to share, but we fear that “our babies are not good enough” and we keep them “locked up” for a long time before letting go.

The pandemic causes this same insecurity. The changes being forced upon us are terrifying because we don’t know if we can measure up to what’s being asked of us now… and what we’ll be asked to do in the coming months is anyone’s guess. We have no assurance that the “post-COVID world” will be a good place. Being courageous takes practise… but the more we venture forth, the easier it gets.

I thank all of you who liked my posts and especially those who made comments. Be well, be kind and be creative … this is the only way I know to keep sane in times such as these. I thank Valerie Pickles for nominating me to take the ten day painting challenge, and I in turn nominate my friend and fellow painter, Becky Gebser to carry on for the next ten days.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

12 thoughts on “The 10 Day Painting Challenge

  1. Set yourself a new challenge for your two weeks. Perhaps a quick water colour sketch each day. Just meeting the goal day by day will give you purpose and satisfaction.


    1. I am really not as keen on water colour as I am on acrylic… But the watercolour pencils are easy and good for travel. I will bring some supplies to Canada and hope to paint something I am happy with while in Dani’s.


  2. You are so gifted and, coming from someone whose only painting experience has been walls, it has to be a grand hobby and most enjoyable pastime.


    1. It is a wonderful passtime and really, it is not so much talent as it is practise… like everything else. I wonder if you’ll be back in Merida this winter? Everything is so uncertain, isn’t it?


  3. Joanna, Your pieces are so varied and beautiful. I really thought that green bottle was real, and set up for you to paint on! (‘Oh, now she’s painting on bottles’, I thought to myself!
    Absolutely wonderful.


    1. Thank you Margaret… I do enjoy painting so much; in fact I have spent more time at this than writing during our voluntary isolation. I will be in Vancouver this summer… any chance that you will also be going? It would be so great to see you.


    1. You are too kind Steve. In my family there are several accomplished artists. I have not been a consistant painter throughout my life so I do not yet have enough practise… they say it takes 10,000 hours of working at any skill to become rasonably proficient. If I live long enough… one day I will feel as though my technical abilities are where they should be. Meanwhile I carry on.


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