It's the time of year when we look back on what we did, what we didn't, and what we should've.
Many of you, it seems, are ready to take a leap, but aren't too sure just what you're leaping into. You're talking about daily painting, which at first blush sounds so cool, so artistic and fun.
As you recall, my Canadian friend Mavis Penney and I took on the challenge of painting daily in March of 2009. We agreed to paint - and complete - a 5x7 painting every day for 100 days. Speaking for myself, what I learned and accomplished during that project has served me well since finishing it over a year ago.
Title this blog "I Did It And You Can Too!"
Finishing my thought from the first paragraph, taking on a project like daily painting is cool, and very artistic. But fun? Oh, if running a marathon is fun then, yes, I guess you might call it fun. Not fun like opening Christmas presents fun, or eating brownies right out of the oven fun, however. Painting daily can be like riding a roller coaster: lots of ups and downs, a "wishing you'd never bought that ticket feeling" while you're laughing and crying and swearing you'll never do such a stupid thing again. And then you find yourself getting out of the car and rushing to get in line again. Maybe rewarding is a better word. You did it and you lived to tell about it, and it makes a really great story.
The challenge is not simply to paint every day. The real challenge, the nub, is to finish a painting every single day. Whether you have a lawn that needs mowing, children that need feeding or a boss that needs attention, your goal, your promise, is to finish what you started before the sun goes down. I learned starting is easy, finishing is the tough part. And then doing it all over again the next day. Refer to the previous paragraph.
Having a theme really helps. Whether you decide to paint kitchen gadgets, scenes from your back porch or sidewalk cracks, a focus helps keep you on track. There's so much out there to paint that it can be overwhelming, and you'll be overwhelmed enough facing that blank canvas again.
@2009 Patricia Scarborough oil Day 45 Concrete River
Get a partner. Get several. You won't want to let them down. Tell people about your project. Not only will it help keep you going, it's a great conversation starter. It'll go something like this:
Hellow, what do you do? And you'll say, Well, I'm an artist and I'm in the middle of this terrific project where I complete a painting every day. And when their jaw drops and they say, "Why, that's amazing!", you get to smile and say, "Why yes, I am!" And you'll both be right.
It takes stamina to do this kind of work. Know that the world will not stop spinning if you have to take a break. Sure, the sun might set a few moments later but what with daylight savings time nobody knows what time it really is anyway. Remember, this is not rocket surgery or a presidential election. After you've taken a few days off, you start again. And maybe even again.
This next one is important. Know why you are doing this. If you're just jumping on the latest bandwagon, think again. Creating a piece of art because everyone else is doing the same thing is a recipe for frustration and failure. I took on the challenge to learn to paint in oils. I wanted to have to make decisions about brush strokes, color mixing, surfaces, mediums. Sure I could have learned all of that over the course of time, but doing it in 100 days made it happen. Learning under the white hot stare of a daily deadline makes it stick.
Whatever you decide, may I suggest you choose a noble cause? Maybe you'll want to do a challenge like this to learn to look more closely at your backyard, or to learn to paint smaller. Or to learn plein air painting. Or to paint in a certain medium. Keep it personal. You'll be happier, and your art will get better. And isn't that the point?
Go ahead and exhibit them, even sell them if people are interested. But don't make that your main goal just yet. Allow yourself the luxury of impressing yourself first. And trust me, you will be impressed,. Get your own bandwagon, and take it where you want to go.
Ultimately, what I learned was mine to figure out. My lessons are my own. What you'll learn is up to you.
Ready to start? Let me know if you need a pat on the shoulder or a swift kick in the rear. I'll be honored to be in your corner.
@2009 Patricia Scarborough 7x5 oil Day 100 - Across the River