What I Learned Doing A Daily Sculpting Challenge

What a daily art challenge in my life and work, Stephanie Kilgast, PetitPlat Miniature Food

Hey 🙂

Although I have not technically finished my daily veggie challenge, it is not daily anymore and I already gotten what I needed out of it… without specifically looking for it.

This challenge was meant to speak about the importance of fruit and veggies in our diet and also to speak about the environmental impact of a too high consumption of meat.
It was really a project with a cause.
What I did not expected was the change it would induce in my work and how I approach sculpting in general.

I have been sculpting miniatures since 2007, but made it an official job in 2009. So I already did sculpt on an almost daily basis. But with any other job, you tend to fall into a routine and sculpt not just for yourself but with the goal of selling your work.
The questions “will it sell?” and “how much am I going to sell this?” are so rooted in your everyday life, that you don’t realize how oppressive they are for your own creativity. At least I didn’t realize it.
Until the daily veggie challenge.

1. Time has no Monetary Value

I discovered the joy (again) to sculpt for the sake of sculpting. My only concern was how to fit the challenge in my life, as it was quite time consuming, but once I got into sculpting the vegetable or fruit I had decided to do, it was pure bliss. And I didn’t care if I would need 6 hours of caning to get the right kiwi cane or 2 hours to sculpt a single pineapple. Because I wasn’t planning on selling these anyway, so time and money were of no value.

2. Improved Skills

Improving your skills is vital when you work at home and alone, whatever you do. It is vital, as everyone else out there is getting better, so you can’t afford not to.
Being critical of what you do is key, re-doing everything as well.
But, as with any other job, routine can settle it, and quicker than you expected, you tend to do “things that sells” or “things that you do well”.
With a daily challenge however, you have to tackle scary things. For me it was leafy vegetables, strawberries and anything pointy.
I got better, I had to find new ways of doing certain shapes and best of all it was fun to learn all of these!

3. Limited Time to Make

I tend to be slightly on the perfectionist side.
That means I can re-do a single miniature a lot of times before I am happy. But with a daily challenge, you don’t have that luxury. In one day you can devote 3 hours at most for the challenge, as you still have to earn money otherwise, and if you end up doing something not so great, you have to let it go and accept that it’s not perfect.
That seems counter productive, but it’s actually a great way to improve. Often getting stuck on one project brings you nowhere, but finishing it and leaving it even though you are not 100% happy makes it possible for you to tackle other things and then, eventually come back with better ideas and solutions for the shape you couldn’t get quite right.

4. Find the Fun in Art

Making this daily challenge and pushing yourself to your own limit also pushes you to re-consider your life as a whole. What is working for you, what isn’t?
Yes the challenge pushed me directly into a burn-out, but it is also the same challenge that kept me sane and built me back up during that particular burn-out.
Because when I decided it was all too much, I didn’t stop what I like best, which was sculpting fruit and veggies on a daily basis. No, I stopped sculpting all the “things that sell” for a while.
And even though I know I need to also sculpt and produce sellable items to be able to live, pay food and my loan, I also know I need to make space for the daft ideas and projects that bring no money in (or let’s say rarely) but that make me happy.

5. Inspire Others

And this is probably the most important I learned this year, the ability to inspire others to change and to take things in their hands. To have a message to convey other than “oh that’s pretty”.
Don’t get me wrong, creating beauty is a wonderful thing and I very much enjoy adding touches of colorful happiness in the world, but adding a message to it?
Taking the risk to not be loved by everyone because you are taking position and talking about your personal view of the world?
It is exhilarating. (and also scary!)

If you are at a place where you wonder about a daily or weekly challenge. Do it. You have no idea what this will bring to you, but I know.
It will free you and open a road of exciting possibilities.
And that is what life is all about.

Let me know if you have made a daily or weekly challenge and what it brought to you, I’d love to read it!

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