A few weeks ago, I was buying something from Amazon, and a book came up in my recommendations that caught my eye. It was called Daily Painting by Carol Marine, and it had a lovely tomato painting on the cover.
I previewed the book on Amazon and liked the look of it, so I ordered it, and when it arrived a few days later I read it from cover to cover and instantly felt inspired to paint more often.
Since I read the book, I’ve completed thirteen paintings in three weeks, which is frankly astounding, given my previous track record of painting very sporadically.
So I thought it might be useful to share some insights from my first few weeks of daily painting:
“Daily” doesn’t necessarily mean daily!
I’ve often heard it said that you need to paint every day to improve, and although it sounds like a good idea, the concept has always put me off, solely because the idea of having to paint every single day scares me.
I’ve always been a “once in a while” kind of painter.
But a key point, which is pointed out in the book’s introduction, is that despite the name, you don’t necessarily have to paint every day:
The daily-painting movement encompasses artists who paint daily, weekly, monthly, or intermittently. What ties these artists together, and qualifies them as “daily painters”? The simple fact that they strive to paint frequently, without getting bogged down by perfectionism, procrastination, or any of the myriad things that keep us out of the studio.
Once I got past that mindset of “I must paint every day without fail,” it felt like the pressure was lifted, and as a result I’ve actually been painting more often than ever before, despite knowing I don’t have to.
Size isn’t everything
I’ve done some large paintings in the past:
I’ve also been guilty of thinking that a painting has to be of a certain minimum size for it to be considered a “real” painting.
Anything smaller than around 10×10 inches, I would tend to call a “study”, which immediately suggests that it’s less worthy than a larger painting.
The daily painting movement encourages you to paint small (although it’s not a requirement).
Personally I’ve found it helpful to keep my paintings smaller. I’ve mainly been doing 8×8″ or even 5×7″ paintings.
Painting small has two main benefits for me:
- I can finish a painting in about 60-90 minutes, which means if I’m efficient, I can complete a painting every day (if I feel like it).
- I don’t feel so terrible about wasting a small canvas/board if I mess up the painting (although there’s another reason that isn’t a problem, which I’ll come to shortly).
Not every painting has to be a masterpiece
Doing small, quick paintings (rather than labouring for days at a time) means I’m less precious about the paintings.
If I spend an hour on a painting, and it’s not going how I want, no big deal, I can just scrape/wipe it off and put it down to a learning experience.
If, on the other hand, I had spent days or weeks on a larger painting, it would be sorely demotivating to have to abandon it after putting in so much time and effort.
Smaller daily paintings allow me to take a more carefree approach, which inevitably results in a looser, more appealing painting.
You don’t need tons of time to paint
Painting used to be a huge struggle against procrastination for me.
The main recurring thought was that I needed a solid 3 hours or more to paint, or it wasn’t even worth getting started.
This usually meant that I wouldn’t get started, and the only time I would paint was on occasional weekends when I had a longer stretch of uninterrupted free time.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been getting up at 6am, and painting from around 6:30 – 7:30 or 8:00, before starting work (I’m fortunate to work from home with flexible hours, so I can paint a bit longer if I need to).
At first it was a challenge to finish a painting in such a short time, but as I’ve loosened up over time, it’s become much easier, and I now feel quite confident that an hour is plenty of time for a good painting session.
No more procrastination!
Regular painting builds confidence
Another great thing about painting more often, is that the more you paint, the more confident you become.
When I used to go weeks between paintings, I would often pick up my brush again, only to be struck by the fear that the painting wouldn’t turn out how I wanted.
Now I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to knock out something half decent at least, and like I said, if I don’t, it’s no big deal!
You CAN sell small paintings
Part of the “bigger is better” mindset, is the idea that people only buy large paintings.
This simply isn’t true.
Some people may prefer to buy larger paintings, but there are also many people looking for smaller, reasonably priced pieces of original art to hang in their homes.
Carol Marine, the author of Daily Painting, set up a marketplace website called Daily Paint Works, where daily painters can put their art up for sale, either at a fixed price, or by an eBay-style auction.
This makes it perfect for dipping your toe into the world of selling your art.
You can put your small paintings up for auction to see what people might be willing to pay for them.
I’m happy to say that in less than a month, I’ve sold the Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon portaits I painted a few years ago, and also sold one of my recent daily paintings in a Daily Paint Works auction.
Early days, but it’s definitely a nice feeling to know that someone likes your work enough to spend money on it.
If you like the sound of daily painting and want to learn more, I highly recommend Carol’s book – Daily Painting.
If you’re a daily painter, or just interested in the idea, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.