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2020 March Art Dare


Create an artwork using ballpoint pen! Feel free to combine ballpoint pen with any other art media.

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Tabea Reif, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Tabea Reif
ballpoint pen
23.6″ x 16.5″


“During my days in quarantine, some mundane things have gotten more exciting. I liked how the pieces of dirty laundry had started to look like a strange new landscape that this drawing explores. The ballpoint pen and the board were quite difficult to work with as they don’t conventionally work together.”

Teo Ica
Corona Personified
ballpoint pen
0.45″ x  0.53″


“I have dabbled in ballpoint pen art before, and I know that my style with this medium tends to be rather loose and expressive. So with the my all-time favorite black ballpoint pen (which I got a colleague at the office, after seeing how great his notes looked), I created a personification of the Corona Virus.

I knew my Corona deity needed a crown, since that is the meaning of the word ‘corona’ – and I found the best inspiration in a massive, forged metal necklace I own. To contrast the turmoil descending over the deserted city from the figure’s hair, I tried to give her a slightly unsettling, but ultimately calm facial expression rather than an outright evil one.

Lastly, the green veil in the background has a dual meaning: it can indicate Nature, which is undisturbed – even regenerating- in the recent events, but by trying to give the color a sickly note, I meant to evoke the Apocalyptic horseman ‘Pestilence.'”

Teo Ica, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Mariana Duarte Santos, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Mariana Duarte Santos, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Mariana Santos
Left Behind, 7″ x 8″
The Calm Before the Storm, 10″ x 13″
We Know, 9.5″ x 12″
ballpoint pen


“These works are based on still frames from 50s and 60s TV shows like ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘The Outer Limits’ and ‘Tales of Tomorrow.’ In my work I love to capture portraits that depict some kind of emotional tension, I’m very drawn to images that portray a person’s psychology in a subtle way, through lighting and slight facial expressions.

I essentially seek to capture a mood that conveys open ended narratives. As to this specific medium, I really enjoyed the detail you can get with a ballpoint pen, maintaining the structure and and directness of a pen while getting some of subtle light gradients you can get with a pencil. In these three drawings I also experimented with different thickness of ballpoint pen as well as the size of the paper.”

Mariana Duarte Santos, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Emily Paxman
ballpoint pen
6″ x 6″


“I’ve meant to practice life drawing more, and my usually skittish Siamese cat, Luna, happened to be calm, and staring at me with her big blue eyes from her favourite spot on my bed. It was a wonderful chance to capture her in a rare moment of serenity. I really enjoyed using ballpoint pen for this, because it was a great way to practice building value gradually.

The natural softness of the lines also complimented the texture of her fur. Finally, I added some pink highlighter to the blanket, since there was a highlighter attached to the back of one of the pens. I enjoyed seeing what I could get out of ‘office supplies’ and look forward to sketching this way again.”

Emily Paxman, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Jackie Li, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Jackie Li
Distortion of Dream and Reality
ballpoint pen
9″ x 12″


“Although this was supposed to be the rough draft of a digital piece that I was creating, the concept stayed the same. I wanted to represent distortion, so the entire plane is caving into a void, which is to represent dreams.

The multiple eyes on the bottom are to represent our view into the murky dream world, in which reality as we know does not make any sense whatsoever. The eye in the center is also sliding into the dream realm, as it is slowly falling into the void even though it is still technically in the plane of reality.”

Jackie Li
Agenda Ascending
ballpoint pen
8.5″ x 11″


“My piece, which was originally created for our school’s agenda cover, is a literal representation of a student’s ascension through school by studying. By piling on more books and helping each other stack yet more books, this artwork is symbolic for students not only rising due to knowledge, but also aiding each other to reach the top.

The presence of some teachers represents the aid that they can give to the students, but most of the effort is created by the students themselves, as they are the ones performing the physical action of stacking the books.”

Jackie Li, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Nancy Rivera, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Nancy Rivera, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Nancy Rivera
Vivere, 8.5″ x 11″
Blossom, 8.5″ x 11″
The Virus, 8.5″ x 11″
ballpoint pen

“Motivation: To explore with ballpoint pen and allow my mind to create with an unknown technique. Creative Process: My first two works the flowers were inspired by my love for nature. I called these ‘Vivere’ Dark flower: Situation at the moment. ‘Blossom’ flower: We will blossom again.

The third work I called ‘The Virus’ I started with some weird lines and darken some areas and continue to create different images that came to my mind at that moment. Then I saw microbes racing in my head and at that point I began to bring to life my work.”

This idea is sadly based on the coronavirus and I guess how I cope with the uncertain. I m a visual artist only for 4 years and it is hard to express at times but I’m working on it.

Nancy Rivera, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Jena Schieb, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Jena Robbins Schieb
ballpoint pen
7.5” x 11.25”


“My sons explore the small wild spaces remaining in their curated play areas. I like to capture images of these moments and recreate them; using line, color and experimentation to create a dreamlike feeling.”

Jason Stephen
ballpoint pen
8.5″ × 11″


“With this piece I wanted to portray the negative relationship I had with my art. When my art Instagram started gaining traction, I felt the pressure to only make art with the medium that everyone was expecting from me, which was ink. (specifically micron pens)

I created this piece just to show how exhausting it was to be stuck in a medium. But this past march I’ve started to experiment more with my art and not put too many limits on myself which has been great. This art dare was definitely a good first step forward in positive direction for my art.”

Jason Stephen, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Madeline Bedrosian, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Madeline Bedrosian
Planets of Plants
ballpoint pen
9″ x 10″


“This art dare was so much fun! Going into it I had no idea what to draw, but once I started I couldn’t stop. I had seen some YouTube artists paint or draw galaxies and thought that would be cool to try. In addition to a ballpoint pen I also used watercolor, gel pens , and acrylic paint.”

Kenzie Swangstu
A Tight Grasp
ballpoint pen
11.5” 7.5”


“I really have a weird fascination with drawing hands, and I wanted them to interact with something. So I looked around my school still life cabinet and saw some flowers. I didn’t quite like the kind of flower it was so I replaced it with a weed ‘flower’ I often see around my house.

For the background I was inspired by grass and made it look like it was plucked (due to the upward motion) just like the flower and the smaller ones were.”

Kenzie Swangstu, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
José Villarreal, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

José Villarreal
Ms. Bubbles
ballpoint pen
5″ x 8.5″


“Drawing with ballpoint pen is a really familiar task with me because I’ve been doing it since middle school. I have always been motivated and sometimes distracted by sketching or drawing at the side of my notes in most of my classes and on my ‘Homework to do’ notebook.

Recently, most of these sketches have been inspired by fabulous women and drag queens providing really fun concepts and silhouettes, so for my submission I wanted to capture the following sentence: ‘FASHION CLOWN.’

I wanted my submission to provide a really relaxed yet chaotic feeling, with all of these contrasting colors being overlapped together, and having a lot of fun with the elements represented into the piece: the chunky jewelry, the heavy makeup, the thick outlines and the interaction of the different graphical elements like the fluidness of the bubbles around the chessboard pattern of the garment.”

Lee Ann Delany
ballpoint pen
8.5 ” x 11″


“I have been doing a daily ink sketch for my digital class at college this semester. We are not allowed to do a pencil sketch first we can only draw with ink. It has been good practice and made me more familiar with the medium. I was thrilled to see the March art prof dare as I got a chance to use my new found pen skills with the benefit of being able to do a pencil sketch first.

I do not normally work in ball point pen but I was pleasantly surprised at the versatility in mark making it allowed. I could vary pen pressure and position to change the marks to add interest and texture to the drawing. I enjoyed the process immensely.”

Lee Ann Delaney, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Kayla Showers, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Kayla Showers
Petals of Flame, 5″ x 8″
Raven Studies, 5″ x 8″
ballpoint pent

“I’ve always loved the fact that you can create art using the simplest (and cheapest) of materials. Ballpoint pen is just so accessible that anyone can draw anywhere if they have one, and I carry one at all times for when inspiration hits.

The Raven Studies were done during my lunch break at work and I happened to catch them one day squabbling over some food. The Petals of Flame was inspired by a recent interest in florals on dark backgrounds.

For the rose colors, I wanted to use the orange and red pens in my set since they are just stunning to blend together and because these were warm I wanted to contrast them against a cooler toned background. I also decided to use the consistency of the ink to my advantage by creating a textured background.”

Kayla Showers, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Rebecca Cortese, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Rebecca Cortese
All Snuggled Up
ballpoint pen
7″ x 6″


“Sometimes I like drawing how I’m feeling in the moment and in that moment, I was freezing during class and I wished for a parka and fluffy scarf. I like the little smile as an indicator of being content physically and mentally as an introvert.”

Rowenn Beth Kalman
Still life with dish soap
ballpoint pen
6″ x 8″


“For most of my life I have actively hated ballpoint pens, so this challenge really pushed me in a new direction. I started off using a blue and a rusty orange pen, but added in more multicolored Bic and Papermate pens as I went, layering color pretty spontaneously following my instincts.

The still life I set up in my kitchen didn’t last long because I ate the tangerines, so I had to switch to a photo reference. I ended up spending way more time on this drawing than I expected, which of course means that I enjoyed it! I have come to appreciate ballpoint pens in a new way now.

I quickly learned that going slow and gentle is the key to layering color and getting subtle effects. Although I didn’t finish the drawing in time for the art dare deadline, I am including some pictures of the final drawing.”

Rowenn Beth Kalman, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Sam Sewell
Let’s Not Think for Just a Little While….
ballpoint pen
8.5″ x 3.5″


“Overwhelming feelings concerning my university second-year degree show, along with ever-updating news about the current pandemic, made it basically necessary for me to take a moment to sit down and draw. The dialogue expresses an internal conversation between myself and my ‘higher self’, in order to calm myself down.

I have used this kind of drawing process ever since I was a child, creating auto-biographical cartoon strips or drawings to work through my feelings. I also found it helpful to stimulate a more interesting composition by limiting myself to a long strip of A4 printer paper.”

Sam Sewell, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Sean Southerland-Kirby, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Sean Southerland-Kirby
ballpoint pen
8″ x 5″

United Kingdom

“When I took a closer look at the works from Mia Rozear I really enjoyed how sinuous and flowing they felt. I was browsing a Pinterest board of animals I had made and thought to myself a snake could work. I wanted to keep it really loose and doodle-like so I gave myself 30 minutes to complete the piece so that I didn’t overthink things. (plus I had housework to do)”

Stephanie Bayliff
ballpoint pen
4″ x 5.5″


“It is refreshing to have an art challenge using cheap everyday supplies that anyone can access. When considering a subject for this challenge, I looked for reference photos with multiple textures that I could capture with loose organic lines. I like the relaxed spontaneous scribbles in the background… that was actually the most enjoyable part of the project!”

Stephanie Bayliff, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Casey K., Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Casey K.
Wandering Giant
ballpoint pen
5.5″ x 8.5″


“I started drawing this creature knowing that I wanted to make something rather magical. The creature started in the starfish-like shape of the head, and it developed into what it is now.

I had so much fun doing this art dare and I liked the challenge of using ballpoint pen as the sole material in a full drawing, rather than for just doodling.”

Dharshi de Silva
The Cure
ballpoint pen
4″ x 5.5″


“My creative process begins when I clear my mind of any concepts or expectations; my hand begins to draw, the composition evolves with small adjustments which are largely intuitive not preconceived. I don’t have a picture in my head when I begin to draw, it just happens.

The message embedded in the drawing comes after this process ends. The process could last between 5 min and sometimes over 50 hours which has happened with my larger works.

In the case of ‘The Cure’ the process lasted about an hour, a crazy length of time for such a small drawing. When that hand starts moving, my head is blank, I just can’t stop until I feel like its the end of the process. The time that the process takes is unpredictable. The motivation in creating artwork for me is simply creativity, I don’t think of my audience at all; I am motivated to create for art sake.

The message in this particular artwork is that this ‘organic shape’ contains the cure. The cure I’ve decided is for Covid-19, at least I would like it to be in these current times. I imagined myself risking my own life, bravely venturing into the deepest darkest recesses of the Amazonian jungle to discover this plant with this magical & miraculous flower.

I tried to relate it back to something that I have seen in my current reality and I decided that this plant is a mix between a rare orchid and an exotic passion fruit flower. The bulbous menacing shapes and the tentacles in this artwork may look alien but the secret of its miraculous powers to save humanity lie hidden within its DNA.”

Dharshi de Silva, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Aurelian Adams, ballpoint pen drawing

Aurelian Adams
Still Life with Rat
ballpoint pen
8″x 8″


“Made as part of a project looking at punk culture, this piece in particular was inspired by horror punk. The idea was to combine and contrast the shocking and intimidating punk elements with the more refined still life. Dutch still lives are known for extravagant scenes of wealth whereas here we have plastic Halloween decorations and a dead plant.”

Sumera Khan
Dusk, 6.4″ x 3.6″
Portrait of a Female, 6.4″ x 8.82″
ballpoint pen


“I had never taken a ballpoint pen seriously but this dare allowed me to explore the versatility of this medium. I love playing with textures in my artworks. The ballpoint pen allowed a unique expression of texture in my first piece called, ‘Portrait of a Female.’

My inspiration for this piece are strong women of colour and strength. The harsh and visible ballpoint pen strokes in this piece add to the narrative. I wanted to explore the smoothness of ballpoint pen in my second piece called, ‘Dusk.’

I am not a landscape artist but the scene in nature seemed like the perfect inspiration to explore the smoothness of the ballpoint pen. I was quite content with the end result as it gave a feel of thread like intricacy to the piece.”

Sumera Khan, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Sumera Khan, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Suzy Hughes
Portrait in Pen, 4.5″ x 5.5″
Onion and three peppers, 10″ x 7.5″
ballpoint pen


“I draw or paint daily as much as possible and gravitate towards portraits and everyday objects. Ball point pens are one of my favorite “hidden” art supplies, they are always around and work on every paper so they are very accessible. Ball point also opens up a very time consuming way to work which has had a great calming effect while we are all mostly at home.

It feels great to have something to work on for several hours at a time. Working in pen to make a portrait gave me the opportunity to push the value and layering potential of a basic black pen. The vegetables were on my counter and waiting to get made into dinner. I grabbed my sketchbook and a pile of colored pens and figured I would push to see if I could achieve a realistic color version of the peppers in ball point pen.”

Suzanne Hughes, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Suzanne Hughes, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Jorja Garcia
Untitled, 9″ x 12″
Untitled, 8.5″ x 11″


“I wanted to show texture of lines I can create with simply a ballpoint pen. And practice different style/purpose of drawing: realism versus illustrative.”

Jorja Garcia, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Jorja Garcia, Ballpoint Pen Drawing

Brenda Peters
Grasshopper, 4″ x 8 .5″
Seedling, 4″ x 8 .5″
Free Spirit, 4″ x 8 .5″
Chick, 2″ x 3″
ballpoint pen


“This was a bit out of my comfort zone. I like to feel in control and able to make corrections if needed and with pen that isn’t possible. I was just trying to have a free flowing hand and let my mind not over think the process.”

Brenda Peters, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Brenda Peters, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Brenda Peters, Ballpoint Pen Drawing
Brenda Peters, Ballpoint Pen Drawing


Mia Rozear

“While I’m drawing, my mind tends to wander, and I allow my hand to move and capture wherever my thought process ends up. These drawings are a type of self-reflection through mark-making.”

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear

Mia’s Drawing Process

“Typically when I make one of these drawings, my hand just needs to move, and I let it. I sketch out the big shapes very very lightly with the pen, so that if I want to adjust lines later, I can.

Before making darker adjustments, I always finish my light sketch first to make sure the composition is balanced, as well as checking the design from all different angles.  After this, I go in with the ballpoint using slightly more pressure.”

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear

Developing the Drawing

“If I am satisfied with a portion of the drawing, I will darken the lines that make up big shapes, and fill them in any way I want– blacking them out, shading them with light lines, etc.

I use this process throughout the entire drawing, the whole time moving my eyes around the paper to make sure the composition still feels balanced.”

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear

Warming up to Draw

“Sometimes I will warm up before starting a bigger drawing. In my case, this means loosening up my wrist to make free and dynamic marks. I do this in my sketchbook or on scrap sheets of paper lying around. Sometimes if I make an interesting shape with a line during my warm up, I will try and incorporate it into my final design.”


“I also tend to look for interesting shapes in nature or around me in everyday life to start out with. For example, one of my favorite blue ballpoint mindscapes was based off of the shape of my friend’s shoe!

I typically never want recognizable shapes in these drawings, so I only use them as a jumping off point, but it’s still a good way to incorporate interesting shapes when starting out.”

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear

Types of Ballpoint Pens

“I have used so many different brands of ballpoint throughout my drawing experiences, and even though this might sound weird, I prefer cheap, every-day pens to super expensive ones. My favorite ballpoint pen to use I found on the floor of a hotel!

Regular pens are great because you can buy them in bulk, and they’ll last you for years. If I had to pick a brand to recommend, I would say any kind of Cirrus pen, just because they allow for a great variety in value, and are very smooth to work with. 

No matter what brand of ballpoint you choose, definitely keep a scrap of paper nearby. This is to wipe up any excess ink that gathers on the tip of the pen while you draw. It might seem strange to do this, but there is no worse feeling than to have a great drawing in progress and then have a glob of excess ink smear across the whole thing.”

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear

Hand Position

“While you draw, pay attention to where your hand is positioned in comparison to your paper. My hand tends to sit right on the surface, and I end up smearing ink all over myself and the drawing. 

Finally, make sure to ALWAYS start light and layer your values! Practice on a scrap sheet of paper, applying the smallest amount of pressure you can that still gives you a mark.

It can be easy to want to jump right into crazy dark marks right away, but starting lightly gives you freedom to make changes later on, and helps to create a rich sense of value in the final product.”


We award prizes and honorable mentions.To be eligible for a prize, your artwork must be created specifically for this Art Dare, and follow all guidelines.


Art Dare winner
Artists in the US will receive a giant box of art supplies. International artists will get to choose from a portfolio critique, an artist website critique, or an artist Instagram critique!

Honorable Mention
Artists in the US will receive art supplies, international artists will receive 3 months free in our Facebook Critique Group.

Art Supplies

Sample of art supplies for the Art Dare winner
(US residents only)
We do not specify exactly what art supplies you will receive, however, you can see a list of the art companies who provide supplies for us here.

Caran d'Ache Crayons, General Charcoal Pack

Sample of art supplies for the Honorable Mention winner
(US residents only)
We do not specify exactly what art supplies you will receive, however, you can see a list of the art companies who provide supplies for us here.

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