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Simmering Ideas for Series

Amy Creative Journey | Featured | ICAD | Pen and Ink , , ,
ICAD from 2016
Above: a card in progress during ICAD, summer 2016.

Simmer. Percolate. Stew. Consider. Contemplate. Ponder.

All of those things!

Over the weekend, I suddenly thought, “I should make my ICAD series a series of possible logos for the CMP.”

That idea has merit. It really does. A series of 61 cards all with the intent of being used as cover art (or maybe a logo). That’s an idea that has a lot of possibility.

And so I landed here (in a blank file, on the blog)…. thinking about the Index Card a Day Challenge (ICAD). It has, in truth, been on my brain because my Copic/sunglasses series (2018) really took root for me last year. It is hard sometimes to shake a project from the past…. or maybe the issue is that it is hard to successfully repeat a project from the past. (I found that out the hard way with the Spark podcast series.) Sometimes, we find a niche, and it becomes our “thing,” and we continue doing it, again and again. That works. But sometimes, projects we love are more difficult to recreate.

Part of me definitely is looping around the idea of doing something similar to last year’s sunglasses series. Doing so would even tie in with my “word of the year” for 2019. But as much as I enjoyed the sunglasses and playing with reflections, it doesn’t feel quite right to repeat this. Am I considering ideas that would play on what I did last year? Absolutely. Am I drawn to the sunglasses still? Totally. Am I considering Copic? Yes. Am I torn because I love regular pen and ink? Yes.

Brain Dumping Ideas as a Way to Sift for Series Gold

I posted my pre-thinking about #the100dayproject before that challenge started. I thought that in writing out what I was thinking I had narrowed in on a plan (and nixed some ideas). I still want to do what emerged there — maybe August! But I ended up going a different direction, also something that was included in that blog post, and I talked about this in Episode 356: Slices of Life (Contours).

If I make a list for ICAD 2019, maybe I’ll find the diamond in the rough again….

I am going to throw out a bunch of ideas below that you might consider. Some of these relate to things I am considering, too, or ideas I have thought about for this year or done in the past. I have some clear ideas I am considering, but I probably won’t totally reveal those here. I like to keep my plans private as they percolate…. but in generating this kind of simple list, I know that something new might take shape.

A Big List to Get You Started

What you can do on an index card is, really, wide open. My ideas are all flat and mostly gravitate to the world of drawing or illustration. You can, of course, do all kinds of mixed-media, dimensional, or painted work! These are just ideas to get you thinking about the ways in which it is very easy to think in terms of series:

  • A series of self-portraits (who you are this year — or who you have been through the years)
  • A series of portraits of your family members (or narrow in, just your kids, for example)
  • A series of portraits of dogs (pet portraiture is huge)
  • A series of collages (maybe you want to focus on collages that convey mood or that focus on a single palette or that all integrate a certain object, like a house or tree or chair)
  • A series that goes together to tell a story (start to finish)
  • A series of portraits in colored pencil (I just watched a beautiful demonstration by France Van Stone. Years ago I was fascinated with colored pencil because of the Botanical Drawing in Color book and specifically the way she layers and burnishes color…. but it is a very slow process)
  • A series in any specific medium (marker, gouache, watercolor, ballpoint) — keeping in mind that index card isn’t always the most receptive medium
  • A series in which you shift your color day to day or week to week
  • A series with lyrics
  • A series with fabric
  • A series with hand-carved stamps
  • A series with recycled postage stamps
  • A series with vintage photos
  • A series with hand or machine stitching as an element or as the source of line
  • A series with a thematic object (I’ve done chairs, windows, and teddy bears, and I always at least momentarily consider chairs and/or windows again)
  • A series of coffee or tea cups or coffee moments
  • A series of urban sketches (different locations or simply the houses you see looking out your window)
  • A series of found poetry with clippings from magazines
  • A series of blackout poetry (collage a page from a book on the card and then turn it into blackout poetry — any color, any medium)
  • A series of mandalas
  • A series built around quotes
  • A series of affirmations
  • A series documenting daily gratitudes
  • A series illustrating favorite or family recipes
  • A series illustrating one moment from each day (your visual journal on index cards for these days; check out Draw Your Day and Episode 352 for inspiration)
  • A series of postcards you can send to someone later (thanks, Pam!)
  • A series of cartoon panels (practice or exploration for a story or part of a journal)
  • A series of graffiti-style words or phrases
  • A series that explores drawing simple icons (visual vocabulary, doodles, etc.)
  • A series that uses grids (infinite options for this)
  • A series that explores the use of pattern
  • A series that explores mindfulness through the filling of space with line
  • A series of lists
  • A series of illustrated jars (jars holding pens, jars holding flowers, jars holding jam)
  • A series of food product labels
  • A series of swatches
  • A series of drawings of hands (your own — or from photos you take of others)
  • A series of contour drawings
  • A series of questions

That’s just a start, really. If we sat around together in a room and all tossed out ideas or wrote them down, threw them into a big pile and then read them out loud…. there would be so many wonderful and inspiring suggestions and possibilities floating around the table.

Many of these are ideas you may have considered. You might be thinking of a project that uses more than one of these ideas in combination. (I’ve done that.) Lists like these are a great way to throw out lots of ideas and see if something grabs you.


So what about the prompts? Prompts are provided as part of ICAD and are optional. Choosing to do the prompts adds another layer to the puzzle of “what to draw each day.” I find that even if you choose to do prompts, if you have a theme or overarching approach, it makes it easier to incorporate the prompt each day. It is also okay to “sometimes” do the prompt and sometimes not.

Do What You Love

It is a mantra for me. It is a guiding principle in how I choose my projects. It is why I really think about what I want to do. (And, in truth, if I can’t figure anything else out, I will continue my series of portraits from Sktchy through these weeks because those have meaning to me on their own.)

I view the challenge as I do any other challenge…. my participation is for me. I stay involved because I support Daisy Yellow and enjoy the community enthusiasm. I also believe that the challenge has tremendous potential for people who are just beginning to find their creative routines or really want to make art.

But for me… ultimately, my goal is my daily drawing. I play within the challenge as a social exercise, but I do things my own way.

See Also

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