The Commuter Challenge

4 June 2016

The June 2016 Challenge

by CC @ 11:34

Create a visual artwork in any medium that you’ve never used before.

This constraint does not apply to medium that you may have dabbled with in your childhood; if you made a collage in kindergarten or whittled something in grade school, then that shouldn’t prevent you from submitting a collage or carving to this challenge. You can also be as specific as you like, for example if you have only ever sculpted in polymer clay then it’s fine to submit a ceramic clay sculpture for this challenge.

Optional additional constraint: The artwork must be a depiction of a human or an animal.

The Results

Brian Raiter

oil pastels

oil pastels, rubber stamps

Ryan Finholm

oil paint


  1. I’ve fiddled around with watercolors and acrylic paints, but I’d never tried oils before. It wasn’t as much of a hassle as I thought it was going to be. I already had all of the supplies; I think I’ve discussed elsewhere how a disappointingly large proportion of my creative drive has been limited to shopping for supplies (paints, canvases, guitars, recording equipment, fancy paper, easels, reference books) instead of actually generating art. I’m glad that this CC got me to try oil paints.

    Both portraits were done completely freehand. I used a cheap beginner’s set of paints and 8″x10″ canvas boards for the paintings above. For the first one (the earless face) I tried my best to follow the instructions in this series YouTube tutorials: . It was an okay first attempt, but it fell apart in a big way when I tried to backtrack and figure out what strokes I hadn’t caught, and tried to ‘wing it’ on the corrections. Also Jon Houglum is big on eye detail in the tutorials (which is great), but not quite as explanatory when it comes to the nose. I don’t really like how the first one turned out, but the results did spur me to try the second one below it. I am happier with how that turned out, but a little disappointed with my inability to get the eyes to match better.

    I didn’t ‘finish’ the paintings (i.e. add hair and backgrounds) because Houglum doesn’t do that in the tutorials and I was afraid I’d really mess them up if I tried, and also because I didn’t start these paintings until around 8pm on the 30th and had to submit something to breadbox before midnight. They are both just practice pieces though, so I’ll probably go back and try to finish them later for more practice. There are tons of painting tutorials on YouTube, I’m thinking I might go through a bunch of them.

    by RyanF — 1 July 2016 @ 10:10

  2. I’m flabbergasted that you started four hours before the deadline. I’ve done a few rush jobs in the history of CC but never with oil paints.

    by Brian — 2 July 2016 @ 16:59

  3. I had spent a lot of time thinking about it in advance, and plenty of time watching different YouTube tutorials. This one was great for getting me ready with supplies, medium and thinners: . Also I must have watched the Jon Houglum YouTube videos a half dozen times in the week leading up to the 30th, and I had the video playing next to my easel while I was doing each painting. I’m not sure I would have done noticeably better if I’d had more time.

    by RyanF — 2 July 2016 @ 18:53

  4. Brian’s entries are super colorful, and they make my arm ache just looking at them. They must have taken forever. I really like the second one, which is weird and awesome. Such a strange and effective blending of colors for shading and highlighting. Van Gogh meets David Hockney meets Lynda Barry.

    by RyanF — 2 July 2016 @ 19:05

  5. Surprise — my entries also didn’t take that much time. In fact, they probably took about four hours each.

    The first one was just an experiment to see what it felt like to draw with oil pastels, what was easy and what was hard. The main issue I had with them is that they are large, blunt instruments, making it impossible to add fine detail at the level I was working at. The second entry is therefore almost twice as large as the first one, and a close-up subject.

    There are only a dozen colors in my set of oil pastels, so for the second entry I took a photograph and re-rendered it in 12 colors with dithering, and then used the result as a starting point for the distribution of colors in my rendition.

    by Brian — 3 July 2016 @ 01:29