Creative Challenges – Season 1

I really enjoy working with creative prompts or challenges in my own work, so have asked the artists and makers that I’ve interviewed to share some of their own.

If you decide to take any of these on, feel free to share the results on Instagram @practicalcreative using #creativechallenge


Keith Brymer Jones

  • Close your eyes and do the discipline you already do (throwing, painting, etc.)
  • Focus on the sensation through your hands

How does your perception of what you think you’re ‘seeing’, what you’re touching, change?




Kate Holland

  • Go out and look for interesting colour combinations (leaf mulch, graffitti, paintings)*
  • Take a picture on your phone
  • Use a basic set of paints (red, yellow, blue, black, white) and try to mix those exact colours.

*Hot tip: check out the tiles in the ladies loos on Hampstead Heath!



Gareth Mason

Work with clay (or any other materials you are familiar with) in a state that you are not used to – i.e. super wet or super dry or any other combination.

It is instructive to use the material in different ‘states’; to push at it and see what is possible, especially states that you find challenging or unfriendly or that don’t ‘suit’ you.  This breaks down inhibiting ‘preciousness’ too – always a good thing.  Of course, what you are really doing when you do this is pushing at yourself.





Adrian McCurdy

  • Keep 1 picture from a walk each day of a small area of ground you pass
  • Take as many photos as you want, but only keep one
  • Build up a folio of 20 -30 images, one for each day
  • Look for patterns, colours, shapes, different surfaces, plants, flowers, raindrops in puddles, frosted leaves, or any random mix of objects

When small things are isolated, they can look completely different. How are you selecting which single image to keep from each day? How has the content of the images changed over the 20-30 days? How has your vision changed?

Jo Barker

Take a photograph that contains a range of colours and tones that you like (or don’t like!). Use paint to try to match as many of those colours as possible. Try to avoid white unless it’s part of the image. Paint each colour onto an individual strip of paper and arrange those strips side by side (like a horizontal ladder). The strips can be of varying widths.

Arrange and re-arrange the strips of colour – see how they work next to each other. What combinations work for you? Perhaps take some out. Which ones did you remove? Can they be recombined into another pleasing combination? Is there a colour you don’t like, and can you make it work in combination with others?





Arthur Ganson

©2016. Chehalis Hegner. All rights reserved.

This is a writing exercise in three parts.

  1. Think about the first time you felt profoundly inspired by something as a child (or adult). Write about what it meant, what it felt like.  Also write down the dreams you may have had at that time, as well as any dreams you may have now as you revisit that memory or experience.
  2. Share this writing with someone you trust.
  3. During or after the experience of sharing, contemplate what experiences could have inhibited that original inspiration, passion or joy.


Joe Hogan

Joe didn’t want to frame this as a challenge, rather more of a way of nurturing creativity.

His suggestion is that we all aim to take a few hours every week to go out into nature.

Turn off phones or other technology in order to “get into the experience.”

And no excuses! As Joe puts it “even a city dweller can find a park”!



Matt Durran


This drawing exercise requires a little set-up beforehand and friend.

Have your friend find a small object that isn’t immediately recognizable.

Have them put the object in your pocket on the side of your non-dominant hand (i.e. if you’re right-handed, it goes in your left pocket, and vice versa).

Put your hand your pocket and only using your sense of touch, draw what you feel using your other hand.

Focus on what you feel, not what you think the object is.

When you’re finished, look at the object and compare it with the drawing.

How honest to the felt experience were you able to be?