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Art, Challenges, Drawing a Painting, Musings

Challenge Accepted!

So, here’s the thing –

A little over two years ago, I found out, quite by chance, that I had a particular artistic skill. I don’t know where I got it from, as I did not think I had an artistic bone in my body. This skill is quite particular in that it comes with certain restrictions.

As I was sitting in the living room with my family early one morning, my sisters (who are quite artistic) decided to take out some blank sheets of paper to doodle on. In a moment of spontaneity, I decided to join. There was one problem though, I had no idea what to do once I had that blank sheet of paper in front of me. As I looked around for some sort of inspiration, I discovered my new-found skill with the book I was reading at the time.

It started off as a complete lark, as I placed the book in front of me and announced that I was going to draw the cover of that book, copying it down to a T. I was being sarcastic at the time, and I wasn’t very optimistic. So, I began sketching, not sure what the hell I was going to end up with. Slowly, as the woman’s face and body began to take shape, I realized that I just may be on to something here. The end result was quite spectacular, if I do say so myself.


Pencil drawing of Julia Quinn’s “Splendid” – UK Edition

I CAN DRAW!!! But, just to make sure it wasn’t a one-off, I took the entire book collection of that author and was on a mission to draw each and every one of those covers. I started to get the hang of this drawing thing, my friend once sent me a postcard from France, Peugeot Valentigney-Doubs, I quickly drew it one boring afternoon at the office and sent her a picture of it.


Postcard from France, Peugeot, Valentigney-Doubs

However, like I said, this skill comes with restrictions. I can only draw when I have a picture set in front of me to copy off. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t trace. That’s cheating. I draw it myself, different scale, different dimensions, different measurements, probably even slightly altered image details (I’m not that good), but ultimately it is the same picture. If you were to give me a blank sheet of paper and told me to just start drawing, I wouldn’t be able to draw a decent looking flower, let alone a complete image. Seriously, no joke. My freestyle drawing is hideously ugly. I still don’t know what the secret is to this bizarre skill. I don’t understand it, and I don’t know how it works. I certainly don’t know where I got it from. Like I said, not a single artistic bone in my body. But there you have it. It is what it is. And I’ve learned not to question it, but to simply accept it.

That being said, it has been many months since I last drew anything. And I kind of want to try and steer clear off book covers, and try my hand at something new. They do say practice makes perfect, and I am a little worried that if I don’t practice this particular skill, I may one day wake up and realize it’s gone.

Therefore, ergo, thus, consequently, and hence – my sister, also known as Chipster in the blogosphere, issued me a challenge. One that I have accepted. Since I can only copy drawings (I repeat, COPY NOT TRACE), she challenged me to take on the best of the best artists in the world, the crème de la crème, and draw my interpretation (as a copier of course) of their most famous paintings (or the ones I liked best anyway).

Together, we came up with a very decent – and intimidating – list of thirteen paintings in no particular order that I am going to attempt taking on:


1. A Starry Night – Vincent Van Gogh


2. American Gothic – Grant Wood

georges seurat-sunday-afternoon

3. A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – Georges Seurat

girl with a pearl earring - johanes vermeer

4. Girl With a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer

in the car lichtenstein

5. In the Car – Roy Lichtenstein

Mona_Lisa - davinci

6. The Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci

salvador dali-clocks-649

7. The Persistence of Memory – Salvador Dali

Seductive Girl - roy lichtenstein

8. Seductive Girl – Roy Lichtenstein

Self Portrait with Cropped Hair - frida kahlo

9. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair – Frida Kahlo

son-of-man-1964(1) - rene magritte

10. The Son of Man – René Magritte

thescream - edward munch

11. The Scream – Edvard Munch


12. De Divan Japonais – Henri Toulouse Lautrec

the-dream (la reve) - pablo picasso

13. Le Rêve (The Dream) – Pablo Picasso

Now, I have no idea how I’m going to pull this off, but I sure as hell will try. Some would say I’m being overly ambitious, and maybe I am, but what the hell? I’m going for it anyway.

I won’t give myself a deadline (even though I work better with deadlines), because let’s face it, sometimes life happens, and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep – even if only to myself. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to go on about this, whether I’ll be writing up posts per drawing and uploading pictures, or whether I’ll write it all up and post all completed drawings when I’m done with the whole task, I’ve yet to decide.

I confess I am quite excited about this, and I’m looking forward to seeing what bizarreness I’ll be producing. I think this may have been just what I needed. A project to focus on and with any luck, one that I will see through to the end. Hopefully, I won’t butcher any of these remarkable paintings beyond recognition, I wouldn’t want any of those wacky artists rolling in their graves – or even worse – coming back to haunt me.

Wish me luck!


About smshamma

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle, but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." - Marilyn Monroe


12 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted!

  1. i love the 13 selections!

    Posted by Dora | March 31, 2013, 20:05
  2. Number 3 was the one I was trying to remember earlier today! the Seurat one!
    This is incredibly exciting! I’m excited for this! EXCITED!
    It’s gonna be great! I have faith in you!
    So many exclamation marks!

    Posted by farahshamma | March 31, 2013, 20:24
  3. I’m seated here across the table from a Vincent Van Gogh who asked me to pat you on the back and share his words, “if you hear a voice within say to you ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. First dream of painting and then paint your dream. Of course I can say that in spite of everything you shall rise many times again. Take up the pencil and go on drawing. Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Then Van Gogh winked, said he too will take the challenge, just stole all these famous paintings, including his own, and disappeared into a starry night to draw :) Now with a little Dr. Seuss to nudge you along …

    Excited and apprehensive are you?
    Well Congratulations!
    Today is your day.
    You’re off to Great Places!
    You’re off and away!
    You have brains in your head.
    You have the pencil in your fingertips.
    You can steer yourself
    any direction you choose.
    You’ll look up and down these works of art. Look ’em over with care.
    About some you might say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your heart full of art, somehow you’ve escaped all that waiting and staying.
    You’ll find the bright places
    where Boom Bands are playing.
    With banners flip-flapping,
    once more you’ll ride high!
    Ready for anything under the sky.
    Ready because you’re that kind of gal.
    Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
    And the magical things you can do with those fingers, pencils and eyes will make you the winning-est winner across all the skies.
    You might get mixed up, of course,
    as you already know.
    You’ll get mixed up with many strange faces and things as you draw. So be sure when you sketch.
    Sketch with care and great tact,
    and remember that Drawing’s a Great Balancing Act.
    Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
    And never mix up your right hand with your left.
    And will you succeed?
    Yes! You will, indeed!
    (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
    You’ll move mountains with those fingertips!
    So … be your pursuit names like Vincent or Grant or Georges, or Johannes or Roy or Leonardo or Salvador or Frida or Rene Edvard Henri Pablo,
    you’re off to Great Places!
    Today is your day!
    Your mountain is waiting.
    So … get on your way! :))

    Posted by Ballad | March 31, 2013, 21:30
    • Thank you Ballad :)

      Posted by smshamma | April 1, 2013, 21:47
      • You’re welcome. No matter how big or small these finished sketches are one by one, would you think to offer us all the chance to request or order printed or digital signed copies for each interpretation? They would make for a fantastic mementos. The whole series of 13 under the title of “A Curious Case of Sketches” :) Anything by hand is worth having as a memento. Perhaps requests for signed copies could be made right through your blog? Let’s see with Starry Night and hope you’ll agree :)

        Posted by Ballad | April 2, 2013, 00:08
  4. Your drawings are really good. I can’t wait to see your interpretations of the thirteen. No easy ones there!

    Posted by Pete Denton | April 1, 2013, 00:40
  5. You should try Alphons Mucha (Art Nouveau)

    Posted by Mike | April 5, 2013, 06:41

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