12 art challenges that’ll boost your inspiration and bring your acrylic painting skills to the next level
If you are looking to catch that wave of inspiration with your paintings and feel a bit too rigid with your artwork, doing art challenges is a great way to bust open the doors of creativity and open your brain to new ideas and methods.
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There are a bajillion art challenge ideas out there, and I will list my top 12 favorite ones that I have either personally tried or seen done that can really help you grow as an acrylic painter and bring back a much-needed dose of positivity into your art.
What is an art challenge anyway?
In simple terms, an art challenge is an activity that gets you thinking outside the box and approaching your art in unconventional ways – thereby getting you out of your creativity block and brimming with more painting ideas.
Art challenges are great ways to break old habits and breathe new life into your art skills. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
In this post, I’ll share 12 unique art challenge ideas that’ll get you paint slapping on your canvas and up-leveling your art skills (plus you can do a lot of these challenges with your friends too).
1. Paint with a Toothbrush Art Challenge
It’s a good idea to set down the brushes for a common house tool like a toothbrush to really push the bounds on what you can make with your acrylic paintings. Tooth brushes have quite a bit of uses – which you’ll come to discover the more you paint with them – especially in creating unique textures and splatter effects.
Disclaimer: some links used in this post are affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission if you purchase using my provided links at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I think will be helpful to you and bring you one step closer to creating beautiful acrylic masterpieces!
2. 100 Day Painting Challenge
Ever had those days (weeks or even months) where you go without painting? This challenge, while it sounds scary, is actually amazing therapy for our artist lizard brains and inner naysayers. For 100 consecutive days, you paint something- of any size on your preferred support of choice.
This means you can do one large painting a day on canvas or 100 tiny paintings in a journal. Whatever you do, do what works best for you, as long as you get to 100 number of art pieces. This art challenge idea keeps your mind focused and helps take out the “drama” of making one perfect painting that requires months of work.
Plus, it keeps you brimming with tons of ideas, proving that you don’t need a brilliant composition to be a better artist – you just need a little time and a willingness to create and learn in the process. It counts, and it means something.
There is a really awesome class taught by watercolor artist Irina Trzaskos on this very topic 100 Day Watercolor Challenge – 5 Minute Paintings – and she provides daily prompts to follow.
Even if you’re not a watercolorist, you can still follow along with your acrylics and create quick 5-10 minute paintings over the span of 100 days. You are sure to be impressed with the results.
3. Paint a Coloring Art Page Challenge
This is one of my personal favorite art challenge ideas, and for good reason. Taking a children’s coloring page and transforming it into a complex acrylic painting requires a bit of forethought and imagination – and it’s a helluva good time, especially if you want to try the same painting with a few friends too.
4. 30 Second Drawing Art Challenge
Although this isn’t painting, the 30 second drawing challenge is certainly something I would not skip. See, oftentimes, sketching something out for our acrylic art may seem super intimidating, and can often make you stop dead in your tracks and just paint another landscape.
The 30 second drawing challenge forces you to draw a different topic in just 30 seconds – and then move onto a different topic after that and repeat. Not only will this teach you to think on your feet, it also provides amazing insight into how your mind thinks – creating very unique drawings that’ll keep your brimming with lots of ideas and giggles.
5. Paint with your Feet Art Challenge
This art challenge idea was one of the first I did – and I loved it immensely. Instead of using the customary paint brushes, you instead use your god-given toes to do the painting for you. It’s a barrel of laughs and a great way to break the bonds of formality and instead feel totally immersed in the painting process. I opted to paint Van Gogh’s Starry Night with just my feet and I was very impressed with the end result.
6. 30 Day Painting Prompt Art Challenge
One of the best ways to get over major art block and put ideas on paper is to do 30 consecutive days of it. No, really. It’s that simple.
See, one of the biggest reasons for not making art is because the thought of staring at a blank canvas and needing to make an instant masterpiece is intimidating. Eff that noise.
Instead, art and the painting process should be seen as a daily practice, and not necessarily something that needs to produce ground-breaking, jaw-dropping art. Or, even take you hours to make. In fact, it’s giving yourself the freedom to be spontaneous, take little steps, and just enjoy the feel of your paint on the paper. Enter, the 30 day painting prompt challenge.
Give yourself 30 days with daily prompts to get you doing short and quick sketches or paintings. You will be absolutely blown at the result – you’ll always have something to follow and there is no pressure to make anything close to a masterpiece every time (although it has happened in these challenges plenty of times).
If you’re looking for some amazing 30 day art challenges with guided prompts, here are two classes 30 Days, 30 Ways to Fill your Sketchbook and Daily Painting Projects for Creative Quantum Leaps on Skillshare that can get your noodle warmed up and ready.
Plus, if you’re new to Skillshare, you can try these classes free for 2 weeks. So that is a definite win-win.
7. Paint with your Mouth Art Challenge
This is another peculiar art challenge that is a load of fun – and it involves a paintbrush or two and your mouth. Basically, you hold the paintbrush with your mouth and paint, moving and bobbing your head around as you go. This is such a hilarious art challenge idea but a great way to see the canvas with a different perspective – plus you get the best upper body workout ever.
8. Paint with your Fingers Art Challenge
Remember the good ol days of finger painting in kindergarten? Well, we’re back at it again. Ditch the brushes and instead use your fingers for this fun art challenge idea. Using your fingers presents lots of unique “strokes” to your paintings – from wavy, smooth lines to pretty blended gradients that provide lovely texture and movement. It’s definitely worth a try a a ton of fun to do.
9. Paint while Blindfolded Art Challenge
Now, the blindfold painting art challenge is certainly a game-changer for lots of artists- mainly because you can’t actually SEE what you’re painting. Yes, it’s scary. In fact, it’s downright terrifying. But, what a great exercise in spatial awareness and learning to just let go of the inner perfectionist and be excited for the final outcome.
10. The Upcycled Art Challenge
The art of upcycling -aka taking something old and transforming it into something new – is a fun, creative way to breathe life and inspiration into mundane things. Add the possibilities of acrylic painting with upcycling, and you got a gorgeous recipe for unique (and functional) art installation pieces.
You can upcycle old furniture by painting them with unique topics like florals, landscapes or people (like my pop art shelf upcycle project).
You can even take old paintings (especially from thrift stores) and revamp them into new, fresh works of art that are sure to grace your walls and snatch eyeballs.
11. Thrift Store Find Art Repaint Challenge
If there is one thing I love more than painting, it’s thrifting. The sea of possibilites in the discarded items of old are just ripe for painting inspiration – especially at the art section! There are lots of thrift store paintings seeking new homes and a necessary uplift…ok ok…a MAKEOVER to get them looking super interesting.
Plus, they are very inexpensive, which makes this art challenge idea a great opportunity for growing artists. Simply find a painting and think about adding something new to the scene – whether it be characters, landscape, animals, etc and then paint them in. This is a great art challenge that I’ve seen many artists try (including yours truly) and it is a wild ride that’ll kick your inspiration into gear.
Here is one that I’ve done that I had a great time doing:
12. Paint on Book Covers Art Challenge
This is another upcycle project that has slowly stolen my heart over the years – especially because of the customization perks of taking something generic and turning it into something personal and sentimental.
Painting over notebooks or books might seem a bit scary, but it is such a freeing process that forces you to see beyond the ordinary. The challenge here is to pick a cover you want to revamp and add something personal to you. When I did this challenge, I decided to paint a generic dollar store hardcover notebook into a lemon leaf inspired motif – harking back to my honeymoon in Sicily #limone.
Which art challenge will you try?
Whether you decide to try one or all these art challenges, remember these are meant to help you learn something new about yourself and your skills – and breathe whole new life into your creative soul, keeping you inspired and brimming with more painting ideas. Art challenges are meant to push you past your comfort zone and get you feeling a bit uncomfortable – which is the prime breeding ground for serious learning and fun.