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You'll want to join this joyful Instagram art club

Art club
This colourful creation was in response to the theme 'Garden' (Image credit: manumontoyae on Instagram)

Isolation has been made bearable for many by the efforts of the creative community and Quarantine Art Club is a wonderful example of this. Set up on Instagram by children's illustrator Carson Ellis, the daily challenges are a fun and unique way to stay connected – plus learn something new.

Ellis' challenges range from more easily interpretable themes, such as 'garden' (see the image above) to specific skills, like 'continuous line contour drawing'. They've elicited an eclectic mix of responses, from children to professional artists. (Whatever your standard, it won't hurt to have a read of our art techniques post before dipping your artistic toe in.)

MAKE YOUR OWN PROMPTS Hello. Do you have all the time in the world to write tons of words on little slips of paper? Excellent. Yesterday the assignment was to draw a picture inspired by three prompts chosen at random by me. Today the assignment is to make your own set of prompts. Here’s how: First, come up with three categories. The categories I use for my own prompts are: MUNDANE: these are descriptive words and phrases that are not very out-of-the-ordinary, like BUSHY EYEBROWS, BEAUTIFUL EYES, or CARRYING A BABY. TRANSMUNDANE: these are descriptive words and phrases that ARE out-of-the-ordinary. Transmundane means not of the physical or visible world. These prompts are weird, unearthly, or supernatural, like HAS THE HEAD OF A FROG, GLOWS, or IS A GIANT. GARB: these are words that describe attire, like WEARING A BIG HAT, WEARING A MAGIC RING, or WEARING SKIS. You can use my categories or come up with your own but your prompts will work better - be more interesting, and less redundant - if you have three distinct categories. Here are some other category ideas: Animals, Professions, Colors, Moods, Hobbies, Foods, Locations, Characters from Books, Props, Hairstyles, Monsters, etc. etc. Choose three. Next, think of as many things as you can in each category and write them down on slips of paper. It’s important to keep the three categories separate - mine are color-coded so I can easily sort them into piles. The more prompts you have the better. I have about 90 of them. Which is a lot! You could start with 30 - ten in each category - and add more anytime. Put the prompts in three bowls (or hats or coffee mugs), close your eyes, and choose one prompt from each category. Now open your eyes, marvel at this funny combination, and draw it! You can also write a story or a poem or a song to accompany your drawing. If you want to share it, use these hastags: #QACyourownprompts #quarantineartclub Make sure to post your prompts along with your art so we can see them. Swipe to see an example. Okay, have fun! Stay home! Wash your hands! Carson

A photo posted by @carsonellis on Mar 17, 2020 at 10:13pm PDT

The assignments often contain nuggets of creative wisdom, which could be valuable for your creative process, like assignment three (above), which explains how to use prompts to create new artwork. Our favourite response to this challenge came from Juli, with this super-fun "cat in a mini bikini, dancing ballet".

Ellis also gives instruction on how to master a new artistic skill like continuous line contour drawing (see below).

CONTINUOUS LINE CONTOUR DRAWING Contour drawings are pictures made using only lines - no colors or shading. There are many kinds of contour drawing exercises. Sometimes you draw fast; sometimes you draw very slow; sometimes you draw without looking at your paper (that’s called a “blind contour” and we’ll do one of those sometime too). The thing that they all have in common is that they require you to look very closely at the thing you’re drawing and to figure out how to describe it using only lines. Here’s how we’re going to make ours: STEP ONE: Find something to draw. This should be a smallish object that won’t move: a shoe, a cup, a toy, a hat, a radish, a spatula, a bottle, a flower, a harmonica. Look around your house for something that speaks to you. STEP TWO: Put the object on a table or desk. Put a piece of paper and a pencil or pen in front of it. Pull up a chair and have a seat. STEP THREE: Looking very closely at the object, begin to slowly draw its outline. (If you’re not sure what this means, make sure to swipe and watch the tutorial.) Look at the object as much or maybe more than you look at your paper. Draw SLOWWWLLY and don’t lift your pen or pencil off the paper at all until you’ve completed the object’s outline. The idea is to draw the outer shape of it. Include all the little bumps and angles you see. When you’re done, it should look like a silhouette and you should have drawn it with a single line. This outline may look wonky to you. It may not look like the thing you’re drawing, but don’t try to fix it. You’re not allowed to. Move on to step four. STEP FOUR: Using long lines and continuing to draw slowly, fill in some of the details of the object. You can lift your pen or pencil off the paper now but try not to do it much. Try to make your lines long. This exercise is about LOOKING CLOSELY. Don’t draw lines where you think they should be - draw lines where you see them. Okay good luck! If you want to share your work, use the hashtags #QACcontinuouscontour #quarantineartclub Carson

A photo posted by @carsonellis on Mar 18, 2020 at 9:28pm PDT

We love this poignant response, which goes back to basics with snail mail.

Assignment Five: Treasure Map was inspired by Ellis' niece and nephew, and resulted in this Corona map.

Whereas this response from Clark, aged 5, is super-imaginative.

The project has engaged many in artistic expression, and the expert edge Ellis brings to the series provides unique insight into the creative process of an illustrator. We also love Noel Fielding's art club that's going on over on Twitter, which has some gloriously random results. 

Check out the rest of Carson Ellis' Quarantine Art Club over on her Instagram page, and find other assignments such as Self Portrait and Who Do You Love. Ellis' children's book, Home, also happens to be one of our favourite picture books – find out more in our rundown of the best picture books around.

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