Building Skills, One Step at a Time: My Journey with a 30-Day Art Challenge - randomcreativemoments

Building Skills, One Step at a Time: My Journey with a 30-Day Art Challenge

One of my goals this year has been to improve my art skills. I’ve done a few different things in the process, including taking:

  1. A class on Skillshare
  2. An immersive class on surface pattern design, 
  3. A class on color

And of course I’ve spent some time implementing them. 

Today, I’m going to tell you about the Skillshare class and share a few pictures. 

But First...What is Skillshare? 

Their website says “Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creative and curious people, on topics including illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more. On Skillshare, you’ll find inspiration from hands-on classes and teachers at the top of their creative fields, so you can take the next step in your creative journey.”

How I use Skillshare

I think of Skillshare as a resource library. Whether I want to learn something specific or I just want to learn something, I will often go to Skillshare to see if they have a class that fits the bill. 

Types of Skillshare classes

There are so many kinds of classes available on Skillshare. While there are definitely a lot of classes that are geared toward people who want to start or uplevel their business, it’s also great for people who want to improve their skills in other areas. 

They have classes on topics including cooking, email marketing, dealing with procrastination, productivity, music, illustration, knitting, meditation, gardening, art journaling and so much more!

Back in February

Back in February, I decided I wanted to do some kind of art challenge. In the process, I came across a class on Skillshare called “Drawing Is Important: Develop a Sketchbook Habit in 30 Days” by Tom Froese. 

This class is “to help you kickstart your own daily drawing habit.” It’s kind of a diy 30-day drawing challenge with practical ways to not only start a sketchbook habit without a ton of stress. 

Have you ever taken a class where there are so many things to do before you can even get started? Where it’s not even fun anymore because you have to slog through a bunch of videos or other forms of content? Thankfully this is not one of those classes. I found it practical and easy to implement.

My 30-day drawing challenge

Okay, so it wasn’t 30 days in a row. It ended up in the mid-80s give or take and I’m not quite done. I wanted to learn to draw birds that looked more like real birds. My plan at the time was to be able to take that new skill and apply it to the birds in The Neighborhood, whether I was adding new birds or updating those already there. 

Day 1:

I wanted to see what I could do on my own and have something to compare to my later drawings. I did a 10-minute drawing of an image of a bird I saw on a John Muir Laws video. 

 Day 2:

Since I wanted to focus on drawing real rather than imaginary birds for my challenge, I turned to a John Muir Laws video called How to Start a Bird Sketch to learn about his process and sketched along with the video. 

Can I tell you something?

I was planning to take in the information and then “do it on my own” after watching the video. Still, I found that with his encouragement, it seemed like I might retain information better if I participated.

What I really liked about the video was that he encouraged viewers to draw during the video. He had examples to draw posted on the video and there was a really short time limit before the video moved on. Doing it fast as someone new to this was actually fun! 

The focus was on capturing the shapes of the birds first.

Here's an example of my results: 


Days 3 - 6 were pretty good and I was drawing birds from photos I found on the internet. 

And then I actually cheated

Should I be embarrassed to admit it? Probably yes. 

Am I? No. Not at all. Well, not much 😬

Do you want to know “how” I cheated?

Haha! I’m not sure what happened but on day 7 I just didn’t want to just push through so I gave myself a cheat day to draw imaginary birds. For another 4 days, there were a bunch more imaginary birds.  

And then I totally fell off. Nothing from February 29 to March 13. 

Some of the birds were really bad. Like I won’t be posting them here. Ever. 

Then I got back on the wagon

I drew birds, both imaginary and real for 11 days in March and then 23 days in April

Here are some of my favorites


flamingo sketched in pencil

What I would do differently if I had to do it over

  1. Plan in advance: Use a list of birds with images rather than selecting a new bird to sketch when I sit down to do it. 
  2. Give myself permission to draw the occasional imaginary bird
  3. Use one sketchbook to keep everything together
  4. Not collect all of the information in a doc (that got way too time-consuming). Yes, I was doing this. It added way too much time to my 10-minute sketch.

What I learned

  1. I feel like I’m able to look at the birds I draw and have a better understanding of what makes them work and what doesn’t. 
  2. I learned to see the shapes of the birds early on thanks to the video from John Muir Laws and that really helped.  
  3. That I won’t always see progress but that’s okay.

A question for you

Do you use Skillshare or another platform to learn things? Please let me know by responding in the comment box below. I’d love to hear!

P.S. Here are the links again:

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