Kathy Cartwright has an excellent art blog, and in it, she challenges readers to take her "20 minute challenge." Click here to see her blog and read more about this challenge.

Last week, two of my classes were challenged with Kathy's 20 minutes idea. Each class was instructed to paint several small paintings this week, taking only 20 minutes per painting.

We set a timer in class while they did the first one. So many were surprised at how much fun it was to 'whip up' a painting in 20 minutes. The guidelines include starting with a blank sheet of paper, stopping when the buzzer goes off, and painting something that is visible at the moment - no photos or memory painting. Most are using watercolor, but pen and ink or graphite are fine - any medium is ok to use.

Of the five I've done this week, two of them were from a view out the studio window and significantly show the dreary days we're having here in southern Indiana right now. All are small, about 5x7" and done with transparent watercolor on Arches, 140#CP. I started out with the brush in my hand and made no drawing before painting.

Tomorrow the class will bring back the week's work. I'm really looking forward to seeing their creations.

The cardinal and chickadee at my feeder were painted this afternoon, and the cardinal started out as a small tufted titmouse. It's a good thing that watercolor can be corrected to some extent. I did take the liberty to 'rearrange' the tree that the feeder hangs from, since our feeder really hangs down from the upper deck.

The tricolor beech looked very bleak and lonely in the cold, even with its few leaves still tenuously attached to the twigs. A couple of days ago, a buck rubbed his antlers on the thin bark of this beech, scraping a large gash in the bark, but the damage doesn't encircle the bark. The tree should survive.

These daffodils are blooming right now in the studio, along with an impossible-to-paint purple hyacinth. Painting any yellow flower has always been a challenge for me, but painting them in just 20 minutes
kept me from overworking them. Still, I found it impossible to capture that spring-like freshness that daffodils have.

The last two paintings were demos done in class. People have told me that I paint fast, and I must. Each painting was done before the timer went off.
Maybe I should slow down and draw the subject first next time. It would have helped the shape of the copper pot, especially the spout. Nevertheless, Kathy's challenge is a lot of fun to do and seems to stir up my wanting to paint even more!


Margaret Ann said...

I would love to sit at your side and watch you work...Lovely pieces these are! :)

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What a lucky class to see such a marvelous tutor create in 20 minutes. What a challenge for them all. I wonder how they got on by themselves after watching your demos. I think in all the most time must be taken up sorting out the right colours and tones. All those coppery shades in the pot are a delight.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Painting in only 20 minutes keeps things "fresh" and really makes you hone your observation skills.

It's a good exercise, and I like the results here (esp. the daffodils.)

RHCarpenter said...

WOW, Sandy, you are putting us to shame with these beauties whipped up in 20 minutes or less!! I'd love to see you take on the purple hyacinth, too!!

Ann Buckner said...

You must paint fast lol. These are all marvelous but I especially liked those apples.

Christiane Kingsley said...

I am not even going to try to identify my favorite. I like them all!They are all little gems of beautiful colors, shading, shapes and textures.

Miss Murasaki said...


Jeanette said...

The 20 minute concept is very appealing. It makes you forget detail and concentrate on shapes and values.

Theses are great little pieces for just 20 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy, These paintings are wonderful and inspiring! Wonderful cardinal!

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson said...

I just love these watercolors! I admire people who can work in this tricky medium! 20 min or less? YIKES that's impressive.