Sunday, April 15, 2012
Daily Painting and Still Life
I was introduced to the Daily Painters movement by Karen Margulis a few years ago when I took a pastel workshop from her. She told us that she taught herself to paint with pastels by doing one small painting every day, and she blogged each painting to help herself stay accountable to the daily discipline. I thought her idea of daily painting was interesting, but didn't see how I could apply it in my own life. Well, this past November, I saw another presentation by Karen, heard the story again, and took what she said to heart (by the way, Karen is a generous, fantastic painter/blogger/teacher and if you want to learn anything about pastels, I am sure she has blogged about it or will. See Karen at kemstudios.blogspot.com. When I learn how to change her name into a link, I will.).
I had been doing art for about five years prior to hearing Karen speak the second time. My art-making time was very inconsistent, applying myself only occasionally and whenever it fit in after everything else. In other words, I didn't make painting a priority or a disciplne. So, inspired by Karen Margulis, in November 2011, I decided to be a daily painter.
I looked at lots of daily painter art blogs and saw that not only Karen, but many people had truly created miracles in their art, by painting one small painting each day and keeping at it. I SO wanted to created miracles, myself.
Painting daily, however, did not work with my current schedule. I tried painting before work, after work, and even on my lunch hour--all options that stressed me out rather than helped me improve. I decided I didn't need to add any further stress to my life. I'm already hard enough on myself with regard to my art. I have settled into painting one small painting, alla prima, three days per week, a schedule that works well for me. I am at peace with not being a daily painter. Rather than referring to what I do as daily painting, I will refer to it as my painting practice.
When I first started my regular painting practice, I jumped from medium to medium, depending on what suited my circumstances. Literally, I tried to do my daily paintings in pastel, oil, gouache, and acrylic. In January 2012, I settled in on my one favorite medium, acrylic. Since keeping with one medium, my painting seemed to improve. As a bonus, now I have my routine, too...now I know exactly how I will set up my easel, paint, what I will use as a palette, etc.
Prior to my painting practice, I had mostly been painting from photos, from my imagination, and sometimes plein air landscapes. One day in January of this year, I decided to paint a still life object. I was absolutely astounded at the difference painting from life made. Yes, I had been doing plein air landscapes from life, but the landscape is very difficult to organize, and most plein air paintings I do are less than pleasing to me. When I painted my first still life object, I left my studio stunned, thinking, "I didn't know I could paint that well."
Now, that first still life is not a great painting (maybe sometime I will show it here), but it was life-changing, and that's what counts. No matter that I knew the light source needed to be different on the subject than in the room, and the only way I could figure out to make that happen was to have my still life object UNDER a table with a light shining on it and myself lying on the floor painting!
I wish I had kept track of the dates of all the paintings I have done since November, or even since January when I started working exclusively with acrylics. I can tell you that the painting with this post and the prior post were either done in January or February of 2012.
I have such respect for the daily and almost daily painters who post on a blog every single painting from day one of their practice. They do other artists such a service in allowing us to see the improvement from the very beginning. I, however, am not going to be able to do that. I won't insist on just posting paintings I really like, but I simply cannot post the ones I hate. Partly out of shyness and partly because when I hate a painting and decide I can't fix it, I do one of two things. I either "go off" on the painting, using with abandon whatever paint is left on the palette, to vent my tension and to see what I can learn (I have learned how to work my way towards one solid color of mud on my surface this way!). OR I simply paint the word "puke" on the painting. So....the ones I hate, there is nothing left to show you of them by the time I finish with 'em!
Well, long post, but I wanted to be honest here about how I view my painting practice and how much of my painting I will be blogging.