Wednesday 1 January 2014

about this challenge

It is with deep sadness that we announce the closure of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge. Enormous thanks to everyone for making this extraordinary place one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. You can read our goodbye post here
- Tania McCartney, Founder

Big dreams! About the Challenge

Most know me as an author, a writer, a word-lover, a font-fanatic. But I have a deep dark secret--I also love to draw. I'm particularly obsessed with graphic design and picture books, and I have long-harboured a secret dream of illustrating my own books. Scary!!

I've never been a fine artist but I have always loved to sketch, to dip my toes in watercolour ... and I simply adore flooding Adobe Illustrator cells with colour.

In late 2013, I wanted to take some drawing lessons to help hone this long-lost passion and skill I had as a child and young adult, and as part of my attempt to saturate myself with as much artistic presence as possible {read: brute force!}, I set myself a 52-week illustrating challenge in January 2014. I expected to host it on my blog, and to have around three friends join in.

Fast forward to 2016, and we're in our third year. The results of the Challenge have been phenomenal, with countless friendships, collaborations, contracts and amazing opportunities being forged. We are now at well over 5000 members and we even exhibited with Arts Brookfield in Perth in March 2015!

This Challenge has certainly been life-changing, not only for me, but for many others, and I still have to pinch myself that it's grown so large and has even extended into its third year.

Oh--and I'm now illustrating my own books, with my first self-illustrated book--Australia Illustrated--released in November 2016, with a major illustration commission for the National Library of Australia commencing in early 2017. Call it fear, call it self-doubt--I never even dreamed I would be doing this.


Dreams do come true.

Although I will only occasionally participate from 2015 onwards, you can see the images I've created (and how my work has developed) on my blog and Pinterest page. I will be hovering around on the Facebook Wall but the glorious Nicky Johnston (author/illustrator extraordinaire) has taken over Directorship of the Challenge for 2016 + 2017, along with a slew of gorgeous and talented admin members.

Won't you join us? Professional or no, adult or child, long-time artist or newbie, there is something truly wonderful about creating works of art. They don't have to be complicated and they don't have to be fine art. They just have to be yours. When it comes to art, there is no such thing as right or wrong.

Free yourself and get creative ... I would love you to come along for the ride, and maybe even face your fears {just like me}.

Are you up for it?

Tania McCartney
Challenge Founder

What people are saying...

I cannot stress enough how much this challenge has helped me. At the beginning of the year, I was testing my artistic waters but now I feel as though I have my own 'vintagey' style. Mostly this group and its supportive members have given me the confidence I needed to start showing my work in the real world. I adore the challenge you've created and nurtured, Tania, and I appreciate beyond words the friendships I'm making along the way. Thank you.
- Melissa Johns

Contributing every week truly has been a challenge but it has ensured I make some time every week to be creative. [This] is something I'd stopped doing as kids, work, life had got in the way. I'm grateful to Clara Cook for introducing me to this group and to everyone who participates for the colour and imagery it brings into my days. Thanks admin, for the great job you do.
- Jenni Marie Webb

I cannot praise this group enough, for encouraging and pushing me every week to better myself. This year I have embarked on my own creations but I have been watching people improve and have fun, with jaw dropping illustrations.
- Belladonna Raudvee

This is my third year of agonising each week about what I will do for the weekly theme and then bingo! an idea pops up and I am onto it. Some weeks my work has been bleh! others average and then every now and then I create an illustration I am chuffed to bits with. And that for me is the whole point of it. Each week is a new challenge. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this creative community. 
- Ramona Davey

You know, as usual, words are beyond where this Challenge has taken me. I wrap my thank you up in many marshmallows (paleo of course), many pink ribbons, and a very big dash of love and friendship.
- Leonie Cheetham (Admin)

Being a part of this Challenge has truly changed my life and I am so grateful! Thank you!
- Lotten Brodén

Thank YOU Tania, Nicky, the admin team and wonderful members. This amazing group has encouraged and supported me to go back to my childhood love of art also and to initiate some further studies in children's illustrating.
- Kym Louise

Thank you for this wonderful forum for beautiful, creative souls.
- Lesley Pattison McGee

I've been seeking to make more arty friends and I've definitely made some here, so thanks so much for not only the opportunity to showcase my work but also all the lovely comments give me the incentive to keep working.
- Amy Louise Ruane

Thank you Tania, Nicky and everyone else. There is something in art, something in this page, that makes life that little bit better for everyone involved.
- Mark James Keenan

Thank you so much Tania. This group has been the best thing to happen to me. I'm just a hobbiest with art. But this last year, a lot has been learned about techniques, printing, networking and most importantly, self belief!
- Samantha Cohen

I'm probably one of the few people who has not put pen to paper for the Challenge but I hope I have nurtured art in my grandchildren through this group. It is the most splendidly-run, friendly group that encourages supports and challenges artists, to fulfil their potential In a safe environment. My gain is three-fold--not only enjoying time creating art with my grandchildren, but I have a wall of the most beautiful art to look at and comment on 24 hours a day. I am a prolific commenter as I have worked with artists all my life. I know what lovely people artists are. Last but not least, I have made incredible friendships and been the receiver of so much... Thank you lovely Tania and Nicky and those gorgeous admin girlies for all your hard work in making it all happen so seamlessly for us. This Challenge group is a big part of my life now. Thank you so much from Team Granny. 
- Lynn Tait

Where do I start? And if I start, how will I ever finish?
So, I will simply say, thank you.
- Katharine Harper

For me, the whole purpose of joining this challenge was to improve my stagnated drawing skills. I could draw okay but I wasn't getting to a level that I wanted to be at (still working on getting somewhere close to that level - work in progress, I guess). To improve, I have to draw, draw and draw some more. Last year, I completed 81 illustrations and so far this year I have created 50. Even I can see improvement in my pen work (though some weeks I wonder how I can call myself an artist) and perhaps even an emerging style (?). In addition, some of my illustrations have been published - something that I could only imagine in my wildest dreams. I cannot thank Tania, Nicky and Admin enough for creating this amazing group and fellow members for the support and friendship. I cannot imagine my days without the 52Wk Illustration Challenge in it.
- Clara Cook

This group is great! It has rekindled my love for art and introduced me to so many talented and supportive people. It has encouraged me to try different mediums and provided a focus each week without which I would be flapping about like a fish out of water. I cannot praise the admin team highly enough for your tireless work. Two years ago, I had one of my paintings on my wall. Now we have many as do friends around the world, how cool is that! Well done, everyone. You have become an integral part of my life and my family as well.
- Peter Hinton

I couldn't agree more. I started my journey back into art after joining this group and I really believe everyone's lovely warm comments, encouragement and support gave me the confidence to try things I had only ever dreamed of before. I started to learn to paint with oils properly and only recently achieved a personal best I wouldn't have even attempted a few years ago. Thank you Tania, in many ways your 52 Week vision has changed my life.
- Dawn Packer

This group has changed my life. After joining, I tried so hard to complete a piece a week. Hard as it's a whole canvas, usually. When I was well and working, every [spare] minute at home was painting. Love the community of the group. I have found friends more true than ever. Four years ago, I lost [sister] Piglet, Em, to MND ... my outlet was this group. I lost Mummy last year, my last triplet sis is VERY poorly now, all from this awful disease ... I have MND too. But I will paint till my hands can't. Left hand going, but I ain't looking!
- Vanessa Pritchard

Lovely peeps like you [Tania, Nicky and Admin] make it a better world. Sharing the gift of art is not easy but so worth it.
- David Bailey

This challenge has brightened every day. Thank you.
- Sandie Fletcher

Thank you all for providing this fantastic site. I have tried different styles and have to really stretch myself some weeks to work within the themes. A real challenge. Wonderful.
- Julie StAubyn

I am so excited. I just applied to a full-time, three year Diploma Program at a small but perfect-for-me Art School. And almost all of my portfolio examples were made during the 2014 52-week Illustration Challenge. I am so deeply grateful to Tania and everyone else ... so wonderful and supportive. I was going through a tough time and you literally changed my life ... and kind of brought me back to life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Me: Jumping up and down!

- Karen Stankunas

For me, the best part of the Challenge is the incredible family and friendship group-spirit that creates a safe space for trying out new things and getting out of my comfort zone. This group means a lot to me, and I am very happy to be part of [it].
- Tanja Hilgers

I am very happy that I could join this group. [A] few months ago, I couldn't even create anything by myself. I mean [to] draw from myimagination . I was mostly redrawing or tracing some other artist's works, because I simply thought that I can not make anything by myself. Since I joined this group, I thought I can also try ... and so I did! I love the community, love all of the comments I get from you, and I hope to be better and better every week, with you.

- Monika Pieczka

I'm so grateful for the opportunities this challenge has given me and the confidence in my abilities that has grown through being supported by so many wonderful members. Thank you, Tania, for starting the Challenge and inviting me to be part of Admin. I love it so much.
- Sally Fawcett (Admin)

This is one of the most supportive and joyful communities that exists online! May it continue to reach new heights and be all embracing for everyone! ❤️ your work
- Lina-Maria Catto

It's a magical place for growth and delighting in people's art.

- Cara King

I almost need this page like I need air!
- Hayley Atkinson

I have loved being a very small part of the Challenge. For the first time in my life, I am creating art regularly, and ... I do feel it has developed my skills. The Challenge has been such a welcoming place where I feel I've been encouraged to grow in a kind and nurturing way. I'm sure many others feel the same - long may it continue.
- Gary Dadd

Words will never be enough for me to convey my love and appreciation for you, Tan and Nic, and the admin team and everyone in the Challenge. It saved my life, and changed it in a way I never imagined possible.
- Lisa-Marie Kerr (Admin)

Started to write but couldn't find the words to express how I feel so simply - THANK YOU Tania, the admin crew and every lovely challenge member 💖.- Jill Butler

Thank YOU (all) so much for the opportunity and joy this group brings, not only to me but to everyone it touches!
- Kathe Hennessy

Thank you for challenging us.
- Peter Papamanolis

This Challenge has been amazing for me. Within 2 years of starting on a casual basis, my work has been published.... So many wonderful things related to art have happened in the past year, I cannot thank you enough... I am so glad that this door was opened for me and I stepped through albeit very nervously and naively.
- Maria Rodda Den Brinker

From small ideas come great things. Thanks for starting this one, Tania, and for allowing it to grow and for having us be a part of this ride. Thanks also to Nicky and admin for keeping the cogs turning and everyone who contributes to this in all the different ways.
- Anne L-y So

Thank YOU!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi, Lini - instructions on how to join the Challenge are at the top of this very poat, in large letters, and are also scattered through the post.

  3. Hello, when can i start with the challenge? Have i to wait to january of 2017?

  4. Hi, Arturo - instructions on how to join the Challenge are at the top of this very poat, in large letters, and are also scattered through the post. No, you don't have to wait until January 2017--if you had to wait for a certain time, we would have indicated this.


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