Let’s talk about another art challenge!
A couple of months ago, – December 2019 – Ahmed Aldoori announced the 50 heads challenge, and I’ve been meaning to participate since!
Kind of to redeem myself as the last time I didn’t finish it…
As the 100 heads challenge article – that you can read by clicking on that link – is still my most popular post on the blog…
(Even when it was one of the first posts I wrote, but don’t worry, I’ve revised it and corrected it a good few times since, so it looks better now)
I decided to write about my experience with the 50 heads challenge too!
But funnily, I didn’t have time till now, so here I am: 1 year later doing the same challenge more or less at the same time – but this time with fewer heads.
What’s the 50 Heads Challenge?
Well, let’s start with the basics:
The 50 heads challenge is rather simple; you have 10 days to draw 50 heads.
You can paint them with gouache, watercolour, just sketch, do it digitally… Whatever you want, just draw the 50!
This comes out as 5 head portraits every day for 10 days – or if you’re like me 3 one day, 6 on the next…
There’re really not many rules as the challenge is quite free and the only objective is to practice drawing heads.
As I said before, the creator of the challenge is Ahmed Aldoori. He has his own youtube video talking about the challenge and showing you his work, I’d leave it if you’re interested:
The goal here is to practice from references, to study different faces, expressions, anatomy, etc…
How do I do it?
You can start in several different ways.
As in the previous 100 head challenge, Ahmed has a Pinterest board ready with approximately 50 photos that you can use as a reference.
This makes it easier for you.
Or, you can go ahead and do the same as I did: create your own.
I didn’t want a board with just 50 images, as I knew I would want to pick some over others and I didn’t want to have to draw all that’s there.
Also, I did like the reference board Ahmed set for the previous challenge more as it had some more variety in faces – also included sculptures and stylized faces – and that was something I wanted for this challenge too.
So, I mixed and matched from his 50 heads board, with his previous board and then added some more references I found interesting. You can see my board here!
I find that creating – or following – a Pinterest board makes it easier so you don’t have to be on the lookout for references every time you sit down to draw.
But it’s your choice, you can also go ahead and improvise! Or mix it!
Afterwards, sit down and create.
Then, you can publish it on Instagram with the hashtag #meds50heads – or check it just to see how the art community is doing with it!
I’M A SEASONED ARTIST, WILL IT STILL WORTH IT FOR ME?
At the end of the day, it’s your choice, but it’s always good to practice and refresh what you know. So what if you’ve been drawing for 10 years and you have practised heads more than enough?
Extra practice will always help, and even as a seasoned artist, you will see some improvement.
Besides, you don’t only practice drawing faces or anatomy, you can focus on colour, light, expressions, being more gestural and flowy while drawing… – whatever floats your boat.
Or if something feels that has been stuck in your art, go and practice that.
At the end of the day, faces – like hands, clothes, etc. – is something you’ll always have to draw but when we reach a certain point we forget to keep practising them.
(Well, maybe scratch that if you’re a landscape artist)
And I think we can need to polish our skills from time to time.
DO IT YOUR WAY
This might seem obvious but you might be surprised with how conditioned we can be when we see what other artists are doing for the 50 heads challenge.
I believe I said something similar in my 100 heads post, because I fell under that the first time.
I saw beautiful small pencil portraits – realistic style – and I started doing it that way. I didn’t even reach 20 with that technique.
Because it wasn’t me.
I don’t do realism any more, it bores me and that’s what happened back then.
Choose something you’re comfortable with working or you want to practice with.
But don’t do it just because someone else it’s doing it and it “looks so good.“
I talk more about topics like this in my “How to Tackle an Art Challenge (without going bat-shit crazy)“ post. I added a lot of tricks & info I’ve learned over the years of participating in Art Challenges.
NOT EVERY PORTRAIT HAS TO BE PERFECT
This is hard too, mainly because of what we see on social media.
Remember, we only post art that we feel is worth sharing. So that means you only see the good art most times.
I, too, fall under that even if I do share a lot of my sketches and messy doodles.
But I only share messy doodles that I somehow like, if I hate something I will be conditioned not to share it.
For example, of the 25-30 pieces, I have done so far, I’ve only posted 12 – and just 1-2 more os those in the next few days.
(Most of these you will see in this post too)
I’ve realised that even if I have certain objectives with this challenge, some days I will only get a bunch of fast doodles cause I don’t feel inspired or don’t have the time.
And that’s alright because you’re still practising!
It’s simply not Instagram-worthy. So what?
Just don’t post it if you don’t feel it.
On the other hand, I must say there’s nothing wrong with doing so. Most times it’s better than what you think, and people will even feel identified with a more casual and less polished piece.
HOW HAS THE 50 HEADS CHALLENGE BEEN FOR ME?
As I’m going through the challenge while I write this – I might update it later with more images and anything else I might find important – I thought I will share a bit of my experience with you.
This time around, unlike last year with the previous challenge, I am much more relaxed.
And though I find myself getting somehow bored some days – that might have something to do with a weird mood phase I’m going through – I am enjoying it more and I feel like I’m getting more out of it.
So, I guess I did learn something with that last challenge!
This time I decided to do it digitally, as I wanted to practice my “digital painterly skills”.
And I decided I would not bother to count the 10 days as consecutive if some days I knew I wouldn’t have the time.
So, I started on Jan 2nd, but I’m only on day 8 (it’s been 13 days ever since).
And I’m a bit behind on heads too but honestly, I’m fine with it too.
Cause why overly stress myself over a self-imposed challenge?
At first, I was focusing on colour and got some really nice portraits of it – though they took forever.
But I also want to focus on lines, shapes or lightning for some others, I don’t want to do the same over and over. – cause depending on the faces they will inspire me differently.
I like going for different kinds of faces and uncommon ones you don’t see in drawings too much. Also, I need to get out of my ¾ & profile view comfort zone.
I’ll tell you more once I’m done with it!
UPDATE FROM THE FUTURE! (present)
So, not that it’s really relevant but I thought I would let you know that I wasn’t able to complete the challenge.
I got around 30 done and I had a few very busy days and a big uni assignment, so after I put it on pause for more than a week I didn’t felt capable to jump on it again.
I needed a break. Burnout has been sticking on and off…
But that’s alright! This is my chance to say again that even if you don’t finish it, you can still learn a lot, cause I felt I did.
Anyway, someday I’ll actually finish one of these heads challenges. – until then, well…
A few pieces of advice if you’re taking the 50 heads challenge from me – feel free to leave it or take it!
First, don’t underestimate the time it actually takes to draw the heads. I do it in a relaxed environment with no time limit but some have taken me around an hour per head.
And that’s a lot if you want to do the full challenge. Especially if you have a limited time frame to work on this.
What I learned and applied from the previous: maybe it doesn’t have to be 10 consecutive days.
If something comes up, it’s perfectly alright to drop that day and start counting again tomorrow. Who’s gonna judge you?
Don’t start right away; analyse. Maybe you realise you have a full schedule for the next 2 months and right now it’s not the time to do this challenge, cause then you’ll feel frustrated for not finishing it.
This time I waited a month and a half to start it because I didn’t want it stressing me out. There’s a right time for everything.
It’s still alright if you finish it on day 11. Or 12.
The important thing is you made it, the practice will teach you something anyway.
Set your own rules, it’s fine!
Well, are you ready to take on this challenge?
I love to participate in different – and write about – art challenges, but I would love to know what do you think about them!
If you love them, I want to leave you a few more ideas here in these posts:
- Draw this in your style challenge
- The Mermay Challenge
- 5 things nobody tells you about Inktober
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