I first came across the daily painting artwork as a sort of ‘movement’ earlier this year and thought ‘Yes, this is IT’.
I quite often try to discipline myself in this sort of way – I did a drawing a day for three months last year.
I was also very inspired by Lisa Daria Kennedy who has done a daily painting for 5 years, getting up at 5am, even on Christmas day. I think that for her it is a sort of meditation and although this talented artist paints from observation, her 2600 daily paintings are fairly similar. It relates to her embracing life, because she is a young cancer survivor. I love her looseness of stroke and how she can convey reflections with a few well chosen strikes of the brush.
I envisaged completing a painting a day, but the reality is that I am slow and need to look at it and let it dry a bit for a day or so before I can continue. I have painted about 70 little paintings since I started in February. 323 days divided by 69 = about 4.5 days per painting. I aimed at 5 per week giving myself weekends off. Then I took two weeks off to paint clouds in watercolour as studies for paintings! And I went on holiday (a week off), and I taught at Summer school and exhibited at Art in Action (another two weeks off).
So how does it work for me?
I am using this concept to see:
- What I love painting the most. (At present it is reflections and shadows)
- How my style develops. (I would love to get looser, but cannot resist detail!)
- To experiment with style and brushstroke. (I am doing some little birds loosely for granddaughterly-gifts)
- The discipline of doing oil painting as much as possible. (Its silly to put it off, when its just such a little painting and potentially such a small demand on time)
- To see what my fan club responds to. (a.k.a. what ‘sells’, without sacrificing my principles)
- To build up a portfolio of work.
These are my themes:
- Seasons as still life – berries, primroses, rosehips etc.
- Beautiful vessels – jugs, bottles, pottery.
- Fruit & veg, especially black fruit – figs, plums, red onions, or white garlic.
- Objects with shapes that I like to hold and caress.
- Fabrics and lace.
- Strong shadows cast by a strong light source. (Remember, I am from Africa!)
- Light and reflections – to be able to show glass and water as just that.
- Flowers – I love flowers but try to avoid floral sentimentality.
- Limited colour palettes.
- Coloured whites, coloured shadows, coloured blacks.
- working almost at scale – i.e. I am not doing tiny landscapes – I like Big Landscapes!
At the moment I am engrossed with jugs and berries – a change of scale and repetition of small shapes. Also that repeated highlight that you get on each berry. This is what I see as my summer series and I am building a collection for Artweeks.
I will digress for a while to do a collection of tiny garden birds from photos to ‘loosen up’ and for my four little granddaughters. Here is my first little robin.
Here are my rules for my ‘daily painting’
- I paint 5x per week (unless I have a really dire day of commitments).
- I let myself off if I am very busy on a large piece.
- If I don’t feel like painting, I tell myself that I’ll just paint for 30 minutes. Often it spins out.
- I don’t try to finish a painting each time because I work better doing a painting over a few days. I’ll even do a few paintings simultaneously over a few days. (see below)
- I give myself permission to paint what I feel like painting not what I think I ought to be painting.
- I post all my paintings up on Instagram as my record and to follow my progress / themes / see what followers think etc. This ‘declaration of commitment’ helps me.
- If you’d like to see my progress and all 70 paintings, follow me on Instagram.
If you’d like to try your hand at daily paintings, buy 10 little canvasses (canvas on board is the simplest), and just start. Set up a mini-still life or plonk a pear on the table. Don’t procrastinate – rather say “Okay, I’ll paint for 30 minutes and then I’ll stop”. That’s it. There are loads of ways to waste 30 minutes in a day. Don’t get too elaborate and don’t lay trips on yourself. You can apply this daily discipline to drawing, photography, watercolour, calligraphy – whatever. You don’t have to show anyone your efforts, but guaranteed, you’ll improve. I did it publicly because that made me more committed. You can commit yourself to 20 minutes per day, or five days a week or every day for three months – whatever works for you. You can limit it to two weeks or 6 months.
P.S. This is the real trick: If you get carried away and do five hours it is easy to say you’ve done a week’s worth and then you do nothing the next week and somehow, nothing the following week either. You’ve lost your brand new good habit. So, even if you get carried away and do five hours, stick to your rules of (e.g.) a minimum of 10 minutes and day and do 10 minutes the next day, because you are training yourself in a routine.