The Commuter Challenge

2 February 2010

The February 2010 Challenge

by CC @ 05:15

Create a piece of artwork no larger than one inch on a side. There’s no restriction as to subject matter or medium, with the exception that you must draw everything by hand yourself. Using computer hardware to shrink things down is strictly forbidden.

If you prefer sculpture to drawing, feel free to submit a cubic-inch-sized work of art instead.

The Results

Brian Raiter

Ryan Finholm


  1. The ink-and-pencil drawing is my real submission. The other item is just for fun — at the end of the month, I happened to be given some Sculpy to play with for the first time in my life. I actually tried to make something interesting, but everything else I made was either unrecognizable or over an inch in some direction. The eyeball, in contrast, was about half an inch in diameter. Note the inclusion of hints of red in the sclera; that was the limit of my artistic abilities in this medium.

    The drawing is of the Egyptian hieroglyph for “eye” superimposed over an actual eye. Even something this small, I had a hard time getting it to fit in the required space. My two-inch-wide version was much more detailed. This was a hard challenge to rise up to.

    by Brian — 8 March 2010 @ 12:08

  2. I submitted mine late, late, late, and I appreciate Brian’s good graces in posting the submission at all.

    The medium of my otherwise-unremarkable coffee cup illustration is concentrated coffee and tea on paper. It was a lot of work without much to show for it. In a couple tablespoons of boiling water in their own respective small bowls I steeped each of the following: one Earl Grey tea bag, one tablespoon loose mango tea leaves, one single-serving packet of instant coffee, and one tablespoon of Turkish coffee. I let each sit for a long time, then strained each liquid through coffee filters twice. Then I put all four liquids into the microwave oven in an effort to further concentrate them by getting some of the water to steam off, but microwaving somehow caused some solids (or what looked like solids) to form in at least one of the bowls, so I re-strained them. Instead of trying to re-heat them again to speed up the process, I left all of the bowls out to dry for a week or so. What I ended up with was layers of residue at the bottom of each bowl, which I then used to paint the coffee cup that I submitted.

    The residue was not as easy to work with as I’d hoped. I thought that I would be able to use it just like watercolors, but I was unable to produce a really solid, dark result. The coffee in the cup was as dark as I could get anything, and I could only produce that by adding extra layers of coffee, which was itself tricky because layering the coffee ‘paint’ on top of the original layer disturbed the bottom layer and made it all uneven. But it was similar to watercolor in that I was able to make corrections in the same way that you can correct watercolors (by quickly daubing or drawing lines with water and wiping the error away), but the stuff was so weird to work with that I ended up daubing so often that the paper fibers were detaching, thus further messing up the painting.

    I had also hoped that I would get more variation in color by using the different coffees and teas, but it all just ended up nearly the same shade of brown. Most of the darker lines were done with the coffees, and the shading was done using the teas (mostly the mango, I think), but it doesn’t really show – maybe if I’d left the background white instead of laying down the ‘coffee stain primer’ the differences would have been noticeable.

    Nevertheless, I’m thinking of trying another painting with the coffee and tea pigments, and maybe experimenting with sugar and sugar substitutes to see how they alter the consistency, maybe also incorporating concentrated creamers to make a white ‘paint’.

    by RyanF — 13 March 2010 @ 12:45