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Thirty day painting challenge! On letting go and the art of allowing...

Hello lovely friends and family!!
Today I'm excited to share my experience
 of a 
thirty day painting challenge
 with you all.......

It started towards the end of our trip when I began to notice my dear friend Judy Wise posting raw, energetic, quirky, exploratory paintings to FB with enigmatic captions, documenting a thirty day process of painting on the same canvas, over and over with the hashtag #judyschallenge and #paintoniteverydayforthortydays

The images were sooooo compelling and Judy talked about her growth as an artist through the process so I decided that once I was home and settled I would give it a whirl for myself!

If you'd like to read about Judy's experience jump on right on over here but don't forget to come back.
Something pretty amazing happened for me during this challenge! 

I learned to let go and truly allow in a deeper way than ever before.

a couple of FYI's

* I did not work on this challenge every single consecutive day but I did work on it for thirty days
* Judy Wise started the challenge and loves to see others jump on board using the hashtags above so we can all learn and grow with each others experiences
* There is no set procedure, time limit etc to move forward. Go with your gut and a "whatever happens happens approach"

Day 1 - i jump in full of gusto and happily try out some techniques I had been exploring while filming my latest Mini Mojo class Pattern. Color. Texture! (which you can find more about here)

WORDS AND FEELINGS: flow, free mark making, energetic

Day 2- feeling great and playing with transparent glazes of Daler Rowney F & W acrylic artists inks. I start to feel a little apprehensive at the fact that I already like it a LOT on day two!

WORDS AND FEELINGS; loose, spacious, curious, slightly apprehensive

Day 3- TAKE THAT! I will NOT be attached on DAY gone pretty painting, out with the old, well, most of it....except for THAT little lovely bit and THIS one over here.....

WORDS AND FEELINGS: cautiously lavish, duality, upside down

Day 4- strange happenings with the appearance of a funny little bird lady, a cat, a vessel and a cup. Trying too hard to contrive some kind of narrative, blaaaahhh!!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: story, contrived WTH!

Day 5-when in doubt add teal or turquoise or any mix of the two. Holding onto the imagery here because honestly I don't have a clue what else to do! Add in a ladder but don't know why!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: aimless, fall back, confused

Day 6- Put a vibrant magenta and red glaze over the whole thing( well almost ;p). Throw in some fluoro pink for good measure!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: moody, bold, let go
Day 7- no clue what to do and have very little time so I pick up the closest paints and do this. Oh brother is right!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: crap, hate it, rushed, disconnected, WTH!

Distract myself with kitties and filming for a few days and try not to think about it!

Day 8- for some reason its really hard to wipe out the funny bird lady completely so I tip toe around her...

WORDS AND FEELINGS: attached but don't know why, indecisive, flailing

Day 9- turn it around. Add some green because I don't usually add green. Put some random stamps on. Hate on it. Don't want to show it on social media but show it anyway. I am, as Judy said, putting my uglies out for all to see....

WORDS AND FEELINGS: more flailing, failing, ugly, stuck

Day 10- make a drastic move, throw some random colors on and still hate it. Even more than before! Notice how sad that little face is still peeking through.


Day 11- Fall back on an old move to try to break my mood and move forward. At least its a start.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: hopeful, new start, let go

 Day 12- feel some freedom begin to return in my choices and begin to notice bits I do like again.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: fresh, relief, bold

Day 13- feel in the flow today and paint freely. LOVE it again! Uh oh.....

WORDS AND FEELINGS- new, proud, excited

Avoid making any new moves and get distracted by Christmas tree and cats for a few days

Day 14- for several weeks I'd been working on renditions of a beautiful horse whose photo I took in the New Forest, England. I decide to flip the canvas again and bring the horse into the landscape.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: pushing further, fearless, happy

Day 15- I LOVE this horse! I really do! Oh crap! I'm only half way through the challenge. Lovely supportive friends tell me to just add tiny dots for the next fifteen days. I know that's not the answer for my highest growth.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: strong and unsure all at the same time

Day 16- I add some collaged napkins and call it a day

WORDS AND FEELINGS: contemplative, hesitant

Day 17- hey look! There's a tree... and two giant birds...and a beautiful horse!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: just not ready to let go

Distract myself with Christmas.... and family.... and kittens.

 Day 18- breathe, let go, breathe, let go. See it wasn't so hard!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: let go, breathe, let go, breathe :)

Day 19- What kind of lush landscape is this? Playing with new color combos and loving it again.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: exploratory, curious, in the zone.

Day 20- back in "not sure" land. Make some moves I don't love.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: turquoise doesn't FIX everything, flailing again

Day 21-I spy the faintest suggestion of an eye and eyebrow top left where I had whited out a whole section. Theres a woman waiting to emerge but she's asleep for now...

WORDS AND FEELINGS: mystery, awe, excitement, anticipation

Day 22- stress about the fact that there are still 8 days to go and I really, really LOVE this sleeping beauty spooning the land. add some more random stamps and fiddle a bit aimlessly

WORDS AND FEELINGS: attached, disjointed, contrived

Day 23- Oh geez, what was I thinking! 


Distract myself for several days with visiting family.... and baby WOMBATS!

Day 24- turn it upside down and let her go.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: let go, breath, allow

Day 25- I see the faintest impression of a face and body and go for it. She returns! Awake this time! Bottom right I see a vague human form, a woman inside the earth, cocooned. I try to bring her out...

WORDS AND FEELINGS: connected, curious, open

Day 26- she might be here to stay, this beauty.  After all there are only 4 days left right? I can totally work around her. Wait. thats me getting attached. What was the whole point of this process again? I decide I don't like the idea of that woman curled up under the ground and I let her go.

WORDS AND FEELINGS: claustrophobic, curious, attached

Day 27- bring in some white! Yes. Thats a bold move right? and I get to keep the woman. Start to get pretty and fiddly with more flowers in her hair and listen to a small voice inside say, " you're playing safe. let go."

WORDS AND FEELINGS: hold tight, let go, listen

Day 28- I remember a time when my dear friend and wondrous artist Orly Avineri prompted us to slash a bold brushstroke of color over the favorite part of our journal spread during a workshop....
and I did it, 
and I survived. 
SO I take a deep breath and I do it again!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: surrender, allow, open, expansive, brave

Day 29- I spend a day walking in and out of my studio with a piece of chalk in my hand.Turning the image this way and that. Looking through squinted eyes, relaxing my vision, burning incense, taking deep breaths and asking for guidance. Top right I see a bottom, a derriere that is. 
I sketch in a figure and it looks like me. 
My eye goes to the orange shape to the left and I am astounded! I see the horse! He's back! 
I'm so excited that I'm forgetting to breath. I'm reminded of Elizabeth Gilberts TED talk on creative genius and I know that RIGHT NOW I am connected to something way bigger than myself. 
This is amazing!!

WORDS AND FEELINGS: connected, open, wonderment, narrative, therapy

 Day 30! " A Horse Named Surrender" 
Grateful times infinity for this journey, for this peaceful woman sitting naked on a ledge, for this majestic horse standing close by, protective and accepting, for the sleeping beauty now become the land, unseeing, unseen but giving support and foundation to those above. 

Grateful for the magic and the wonder and the unfolding story. Grateful for you too xox

As always I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. I so enjoy reading your sweet words xoxox


Unknown said…
Oh I loved that! Thanks for sharing! I hope to do that exercise soon! Jenn
Anna said…
Thank you for the insight of the language behind the visual. Iit was like ready a really great story and then i accidentally hit the screen too hard and closed out of it. I was frantically trying to get back to finish the rest of the story. I had no idea where you were going to go once you swiped the blue through her face. The end result is amazing and triumphant. I thank you for being so vulnerable. You certainly don't have to be, and it has given me courage to do the same. I have taken the challenge as you know and am learning many good things. Different things than you of course as I am in a very different place and level of artistry. I am very happy with the direction of my piece and with the process. I plan to do it all year, one a month and see what I end up with by the end of the year. I am very interested in finding my voice and I feel like this will go a long way in getting there. Thank you, thank you, thank you for shining your light in the world and for your generosity to others. Much love...Anna
Bec Fowler said…
Wow. What an engaging process. I was on the edge of my seat having to let go with you. I liked it so many times and I was pleading can we keep this bit and then it was gone. What a beautiful painting came to be by the 30th day! Thankyou for your bravery and sharing the ugly days and your 'not knowing' 'I hate this' 'it's crap' days as well as the in flow triumphant days. And yes Orly Avineri rocks with her fearlessness and empowering people to let go. I love the way I sense your Australian-ness coming through (it makes me feel homesick). Rock on Tracy :-)
Rachel K said…
Tracy , I was captivated reading and watching this journey. Thank you for sharing. Wonderful! Rachel K
Jackie PN said…
Wow! I can't believe how many changes you went through and not just small ones! Very interesting to watch Tracy! thank you for sharing this with us! xo
Unknown said…
I was fascinated reading this, and looking at the beautiful photographs. What an amazing challenge, and how brave of you to keep surrendering and we working what often looked like finished, beautiful, precious paintings.thank you for your courage and sharing every step of this journey.
Ally said…
Thank you for sharing your journey Tracy =) That was amazing to watch. I felt your emotions as I was traveling on your artistic journey. I loved it many times and was scared for you to let some of those gorgeous layers go too but in the end it turned out amazingly gorgeous!!! I just may have to open up, let go and give this a try!
Thank you for sharing this. I should try this challenge. I fear a large canvas and this would help with that fear (I hope). This post was like a mystery novel wondering what would happen next.
Penelope said…
I loved sharing the journey and your willingness to embrace the mystery and the ugly and just keep going. In art and life there are challenges and triumphs and they all are best shared.
I took your workshop in New Mexico last Spring and it really accelerated my joy and dedication to the muse. Big thanks and many blessings!
Louise Taylor said…
Loved the journey and so inspiring. Thank you
Brandy said…
I love that you included the words and feelings. So often I feel those things and think "a real artist would never make that mistake/doubt their marks. Its good to k ow what i feel is a normal part of thr creation proxess.
That was amaaazing, Tracy!

Thank you for being so open and sharing those feeling we all have as a painting unfolds. So lovely to feel the connection of others walking the journey, as sometimes I can feel isolated in the studio.

I found your journey truly inspiring. I will enjoy a reread.

thank you Tracy xxx You're doing so much good in this life.
ooops !
that comment was from Julie Stapleton
'Studio Jooles'
fiona Hill said…
This is awesome Tracy, thanks for sharing your processes. I'm teaching a 3 hour workshop with some ladies this Friday and will show them this blogpost. (I'll also let them know about your upcoming workshops in Oz) I also think it would be really cool to put all your images together in a flipogram, youtube vid to music so that we can fully take in the visual sensation of your work. xX
P said…
Thank you for sharing this journey and taking us with. Thank you for your courage and your willingness to surrender to the process. May be all be so brave and not fall in love with our 'little darlings' when there's such a treasury of growth ahead if we just stay in it.
Lila Sonne said…
So inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing! I will start tomorrow :-)
Lynette (NZ) said…
WOW - amazing journey. I love that you shared this with us. And I'm sure those stages have also sparked ideas for future work as well.
baker_eliz said…
Thank you so much for sharing. It is always wonderful and enlightening to see an artist's process and all the layers underneath that are no longer visible in the final piece.
Jodi Ohl said…
Tracy, your journey of 30 days was truly epic! I usually don't have a hard time letting go but 30 days of it, I don't think I could have surrendered as you did! Great challenge and like others, I enjoyed seeing the words you feeling during the challenge. The final version is stunning. Your woman before the slash was beautiful as well. Her soul obviously lives on in your work. Thank you for sharing!
Love your journey Tracy. I'm only part way through and you are right, it is a challenge but a healthy and rewarding one.
Dear Tracy, Thank you so much for sharing this. This has turned my world upset down. For me, you were 'my great teacher completely relaxed with painting easily the most beautiful artworks'. Last september I started with the Paint Mojo e-course (never painted before), and I was convinced that all these struggles I've gone through were beginner issues. Maybe to overcome for me in ten years or so. And now, After reading this process you've gone through, guided by all these beautiful paintings - I mean ALL paintings are so, so ,so beautiful - I've learned something new. Thus the frustrations and the rude letting go's of your most happy ones (ooouch!) are an essental part of the creative process, to grow, to expand and to enrich your artistic life. Wow, never considered these things. Actually I love these challenges. It motivates me so to go on with my creative practice. Thank you Tracy, for sharing your beautiful (and sometimes so painful) inner and outer process. You are really a great and inspired teacher for me!!! 💖🌟💝
Hannie Wiering said…
Oepss, I just posted my comment with the Dutch title of my blog Tracy, My name is Hannie Wiering ;-)
Unknown said…
oh my ....I was so sad too see many of them disappear under the veil of the next day....soooooo amazing!...I must
give this challenge a try....not sure I can do it =) i may fall in love with a piece and need to did you keep going =)
Aino said…
Absolutely fascinating, amazing, heartbeakingly beautiful. Such an inspiration. <3
SewHappy.Me said…
Wow! This is fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing this process with us. The 'letting go' bit is the part that I find so hard. I even struggled with watching you 'letting go' during this photo journey. I loved so many parts of it that you so easily discarded. Or maybe it wasn't easy. I think I will try to give this 30 day challenge a go, but I am really not convinced that I will achieve anything spectacular. Oh here I go already! Can't even let go, before I've even started! But I will give it a go anyway and let's see what happens. I am sure you will have inspired many others to take the challenge too. Good on ya mate. :-)
michelle said…
Bravo Tracy on truly a stunning piece of art ! I fell in love with each layer and i could just imagine the emotions you must have been feeling to let go of each beautiful creation. But wow just look at the outcome an amazing story unfolded right before your eyes and ours. Thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of the world very inspiring !
Sandra C. said…
Tracy, this post is amazing. I read all the posts before mine and you have us sitting on the edge of our seats wondering what you will do in the next paint session! Will she cover it up or won't she? But we know your courage and we hope for our own sakes that you save our favorite parts! You should have your own reality show for artists. All of your posts should be shows. It would be great! Thank you so much for your honesty. I love reading your blog. I hope one day to be able to take one of your classes. Until then, thanks for sharing your life with us! love ya!
Cindy Benko said…
Oh my gosh! I am so moved and a little emotional right now. Your journey, your poignant and beautiful. You made me laugh....because I've been there...making a bold move then saying WTF and pacing and not being able to breathe. Thank you for sharing and thank you for showing that if we let go and trust our process and not be afraid of taking chances...all will be well and something beautiful will emerge...if we just take the time to look a little deeper. :) xo
karen said…
Wow Tracy that was amazing...i am truly lost for words..just beautiful
karen said…
Wow Tracy that was amazing...i am truly lost for words..just beautiful
Unknown said…
Oh my days! What an adventure. I'm completely inspired. Thank u so for sharing this.
Christine said…
I just bookmarked this so I can go back and look at it again and again. Seeing the metamorphosis of this painting -- the good, the not-happy-with-it, and the surrender that led to such a deep painting -- that is something so special for you to have shared. I'm going to have to do this challenge for sure! Thank you again.
Anonymous said…
So beautiful transformation.... :)
Oh I love this story. Thanks for sharing. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw day 28. You are very brave. I am not that brave. I am doing one now. Up to day 17.
Anonymous said…
Yay!! Thank you for this opportunity. I have always admired your work. I even purchased your 'Paint Mojo book. I am glad to hear that you are progressing well in your health (I didn't know until now). You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Life Book seem like an incredible journey to embark upon. I am hopeful that I will see you there. The very best to you and yours, and again thank you.
Anonymous said…
What a gift this is! It took some Big Courage to brush out a favorite part! Not sure I could do it. Thanks so much.
Unknown said…
Oh Tracy, to follow this 30-day journey of yours was super exciting! So many turns, u-turns and ups and downs...! And so fun to read your daily comments :-) I can really hear and visualise you as your emotions are moving between heaven and hell :-) I just have to make the same journey! Sending you much love! /Kim
Susan said…
Thank you so much for your fearlessness and inspiration and wonderful insight what you did was so brave especially when you found those beautiful women. Your final painting amazed and astonished me. it's absolutely stunning🤗 I get my paints and inks etc next week and after not painting for a few years due to chronic ill health I feel as though your course has made me feel excited and not so afraid of beginning again with something new☺️😊😘😉.
Unknown said…
Wow. That was great Tracy. I'm going to give it a try.
Unknown said…
Wow that was epic!!! you were extremely brave on day 27, not sure I would have been able to let her go if I created that. Might have to give this a go. Thanks for for always sharing so much
Stacy x
Giobel said…
Nice oil paintings, my favorite subject in my paintings are koi fish, goldfish, bettas and guppies
flama said…
Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. İzmir Bayrak İzmir. Many say exploration is part of our destiny, but it’s actually our duty to future generations and their quest to ensure the survival of the human species.
Debra Fillingim said…
I have done the challenge before and it is amazing! I have already pulled a used canvas and have requested to join the group.
title said…
Loved seeing your 30 day journey, Tracy! That women showing up at the end would have derailed me! You were brave and I think everything turned out great at the end! You are so inspiring!
DeeBee said…
Hi Tracey, it has been quite a while since I first 'found' you and your art and inspiration, and even longer since you first posted these... I am revisiting in preparation for #30daysonecanvas2023
Excited to see the journey ahead unfold.
Thank you and many blessings to you and your loved ones on the Eve of 2023
Kat said…
Do you sometimes feel you could have had 5 or 6 good paintings if you stopped at a point that you loved it? I'm not such a good painter that I think I could just paint over one I loved, until I kept it for a while. It takes courage and the knowledge you can do it again. I don't know when I'll get there.
Alex said…
Wow. You have no idea how much I admire your courage to just go for it and then show us the struggles and the messy bits, the horror and the attachments. You go through the same struggles and emotions as me! And you keep going and risking and making beautiful things happen. And always encouraging us to keep going. Reminding us nothing wonderful can happen if we stop. If we stop, we will never know what might have been. 💖 you Tracy.
Anonymous said…
AMAZING!!! So fun and I can’t wait to give it a try! What a beautiful transformation! Loved every part and what you wrote about each step. Thank you! Leslie
rianne said…
very inspiring to see and follow your thinking and workproces, i did try this a few times but got stuck, sometimes because i loved what i did and wanted to kep that, and offcourse sometimes because the result was to ugly or I paralysed and could not go further, i might try it again, greetings out of grey and rainy amsterdam
Kylie Halford said…
Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!
What a wild ride! That is the epitome of letting go and trusting. Brave and transformative, every move we make takes us somewhere 🙏❤️
Thankyou Tracy