The end of the old year and beginning of the new is a natural time to pause and reflect on your practice as an artist and ask yourself a few questions. Are you excited about what you’re doing? Are you motivated to get in your studio and create?
Are you being productive in a positive, forward moving direction? Are you successful? These are some hefty questions, but ones we should be asking ourselves on an ongoing basis. If you find yourself wavering on some of your answers, or emphatically stating a resounding NO, then I’ve got a book you should check out.
Daily Painting-Paint Small and Often to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist by Carol Marine is well worth the read, and re-read. I’ve been seeing social media posts from other artists about daily painting, and hearing about it for a long time, but never really knew much about it until picking up this book. I often wonder if I’m doing all that I can to be as successful as I can be, and after reading “Daily Painting” I can answer with a confident, NO. Don’t let the title stop you in your tracks, though. I admit, the reason I didn’t “know much about it” was because it sounded daunting and something that would be impossible for me to actually do and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure.
After skimming the back cover and flipping through the chapters in the bookstore, I decided I ought to at least see what it’s really about, and some of the chapter titles looked like they would directly benefit me even if I decided not to go through with the whole premise. I’m really glad I didn’t talk myself out of buying it. In Daily Painting, Carol (I feel like I can call her by her first name even though we’ve never met) lays out a simple as you want to make it guide to changing your perspective and your success as an artist. Beginning with her own background as a struggling artist, who was doing what she thought artists did to make it and make a living at it; to actually making it and making a living as an artist by going against the established norms; Carol Marine shares her successes and failures, and what she’s learned from both.
Daily Painting covers not only how this approach changed her life, but how it can change yours too. In a nutshell, she had been working hard, painting on larger canvases that took time to develop and finish and was seeking gallery representation for her work to gain exposure and sales, but wasn’t making a living, let alone truly enjoying what she was doing… a story that many artists are all too familiar with. That’s when a friend shared an article with her about daily painting, and it truly did change her life.
The premise of Daily Painting is to paint small, to paint quickly, and to paint daily (although she does point out that daily to her is not a strict interpretation of the word). I was afraid daily painting would be rigid, but the beauty of her method is, it is not rigid at all. It does ask you to make your work a priority and to make an effort to paint every day, but she is quick to point out that it isn’t always realistic or even possible to do so, because we all have busy lives. Carol Marine managed to begin the change in her life as an artist at the same time she and her husband adopted a baby (hectic and crazy time much??) finding that his nap time was the perfect amount of time to do her art. The book has many examples of her early small daily paintings and shows the progression her work made in a relatively short time. She found that by working daily, and on small pieces she was still focusing on all of the same things we do on larger paintings, such as composition, color, value… and learning more, and improving more quickly than by working large over a longer period of time. Click on the link to see a YouTube video of Carol in action. Carol Marine
It makes sense to me. I can see that, especially if you are unsure if what you are currently creating is what you actually want to be creating, it frees you up to experiment and not feel guilty about all the expensive media and canvas you would potentially waste on a larger piece. If you don’t like a style or medium, you simply move on to something else and all you’ve invested is an hour and a 6”x6” (or whatever size you choose) canvas. I found this for myself a while back when I was experimenting with some abstract paintings. I found I was freer, less inhibited and willing to try things on a small canvas that I didn’t want to do on something larger because I was frankly, afraid. Too bad the concept didn’t really sink in for me at the time.
Other chapters focus on her materials, her methods, fighting artist block, photographing and editing your work, and ends with tips for better online sales. I was particularly intrigued with the online sales section and it didn’t disappoint. I’m absolutely going to make daily painting a part of my studio routine, and know I will be going back to this book again and again for use as an excellent resource. There is also a growing online community of daily painters to connect with and share your work with, because to improve we also need valid and positive feedback. I shared this book with my sister, also an artist, and this was the best way I can share it with all of you, too. If you are struggling in your practice; not happy with your results, selling some (or maybe even none) and want to change that, or want to bring joy into your work, then I highly recommend Daily Painting by Carol Marine. I wish you a happy, productive and creative 2019! Until next time-
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