Local artists take 25-day creativity challenge

By Laura Daniali | Apr 10, 2015  | The Edmonds Beacon Newspaper

When Tracy Felix opened ARTspot along with Denise Cole, she envisioned it as more than an art supply store – she wanted to create a space for artists to create together and work together.

Felix didn’t sit back and wait for the artists to come to her, either. She has been actively engaging the community – established artists and dabblers alike – for nearly three years by hosting workshops and classes, and even setting out art books in her sidewalk Lending Library outside the shop at 408 Main St.

Local artist and owner of ARTspot Tracy Felix demonstrates painting techniques on 5x5 inch canvases in her shop’s studio. She hosted a 25 Day Creativity Challenge for other artists, challenging them to create 25 5x5 inch original pieces in 25 days. Photo by: Laura Daniali

Local artist and owner of ARTspot Tracy Felix demonstrates painting techniques on 5x5 inch canvases in her shop’s studio. She hosted a 25 Day Creativity Challenge for other artists, challenging them to create 25 5x5 inch original pieces in 25 days. Photo by: Laura Daniali

Her latest project, the 25 Day Creativity Challenge, brought together 25 local artists to create 25 5x5 inch original pieces in 25 days from March 21 to April 14.

Felix was inspired to launch her own challenge after taking part in a 30-day challenge in Seattle.

“When you’re under the gun to get something done – multiple pieces like that on a short deadline – it really pushes you,” she said, “and you don’t over think your art process.

“You just keep going, because you have this deadline. It can kind of help to push artists more than they might push themselves in the normal studio time.”

Artists Victoria and Jeff Galbraith agree.

Victoria encouraged her husband Jeff to take the challenge with her, and she said it has pushed her to try new directions with her work.

Typically she has a more traditional style, and the challenge led her to explore painting in a more modern, abstract way, while incorporating items such as small metal widgets from the hardware store to maps gathered on trips.

Jeff is a photographer, and he used his photos in combination with encaustic, or wax-based paint, techniques to explore variations.

He considers himself more of a photographer than artist, and said he tries to enhance his photos with encaustics. It’s a bit of a crossover, he said.

“This has been a fun exercise,” he said. “This was fun, because we got to feed off of each other.”

Victoria said the challenge was fun, and it was a pleasure to work with Felix.

“Tracy [Felix] just has such a joy for the process,” she said. “She just wants you to get in there, and have fun.”

Jeff and Victoria Galbraith with their completed paintings.

Jeff and Victoria Galbraith with their completed paintings.

Victoria took part in Felix’s workshops, which were held to help participants learn to paint in a series instead of going one-by-one through each.

“Your work doesn’t move forward very quickly when you’re just doing one painting at a time,” Felix said. “When you start doing several canvases together, and you start rotating them, as you’re working you’ll always come up with the idea of ‘Oh, I wonder what would’ve happened if I had done this instead?’”

She said artists will start zipping through them in different ways, and the pieces will morph.

Participants paid $50 to take part, and the fee included 25 supports to choose from – 5x5 canvas, MDF board, canvas panel, pastel paper and watercolor paper – scheduled studio time, and the opportunity to show and sell their work during the Third Thursday Artwalk from 5-8 p.m. on April 16.

Individual pieces will be sold for $25, with $20 going to the artist and $5 to ARTspot.

“One of the big concerns was: Were they willing to sell their work for $25 each?” Felix said.

Sometimes doing a small piece takes just as long as a larger piece, she said, but most are not in it for the money.

“If we were in to our careers for the money, we probably wouldn’t have chosen to be artists,” she said, “so it’s not a money-based thing for them to do this, but it’s more of a thing involving the community.

“That’s really important for them, and having the exposure as an artist.”

Felix said $25 is an amazing bargain for some of the artists’ work, and it gives the public a chance to acquire some well-known artists’ work.

To see a list of participating artists, visit www.artspot.squarespace.com.