I painted more than 30 paintings in September. 31 small/quick daily paintings (I painted 2 quilt blocks for one day because I didn't initially like the first one). Add the two pages I painted in the 2x2 Sketchbook (here and here), a large tomato painting,
a gouache experiment,
a nasturtium bouquet
and the painting of black and blue salvia that I put the finishing touches on after we'd stepped into October...
and it's 37.
I'm not bragging or asking for praise. That's not my point. My point is simply this: painting begets painting. The more I painted, the more I painted. Maybe that sounds silly or simplistic, but it's true. One painting or experiment would lead to another. One idea would spark another idea.
It was fun to work on painting the same subject in a series over a number of days. Usually I'm painting larger or more involved paintings that take several days (or longer) for me to complete. By the time a painting is finished I'm ready to move onto another subject. Not so in this case.
One appealing aspect of this challenge was that I needed to begin and finish a painting in a short span of time. When I'm working on a larger or more involved piece sometimes I dawdle. I work in bits and pieces on the painting and work on other things when I'm not painting. Those other things are often necessary or good, but sometimes I'm simply wasting time or avoiding finishing. Sometimes I'm simply uncertain whether or not a painting is finished. Forcing myself to start and finish quickly (I hoped) would help me to be more disciplined and decisive. And I think it has.
Sometimes I was at a complete loss as to what to paint. It happens. On a normal day I probably wouldn't have painted anything in that situation, but for this challenge I didn't want to miss a day. I had to pick a subject.
Sometimes I chose the "wrong" subject and the painting wouldn't "flow" and I wouldn't like the end product. And that was ok. There was always tomorrow.
Blogging about my paintings each day was good in that it held me accountable, but it did take time. Sharing my paintings also kept me from experimenting quite as freely as I would have if I hadn't had an audience. I have some ideas I'd like to play with, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull them off and I didn't want to fail publicly.
Even so, I think the positives of sharing my paintings daily outweighed the negatives.
I did experiment. All of the daily paintings (except for the quilt blocks and the hummingbirds) were painted without a preliminary sketch, something I never do.
The eggplant, pepper and spent sunflower paintings were all done in a looser way than I usually paint, more quickly with larger brushes. It was freeing and confidence building and I am happy with the finished paintings (other than the pepper where I lost the groove).
The tiny houseplants were also an experiment. Not wildly daring in subject matter, but a challenge in scale.
I'd like to experiment more with painting quilt block designs. Although I didn't like the first painting, once it was finished it grew on me.
I had been drawn to paint birds, especially hummingbirds, but was wary to try. I'm glad I did.
In some cases these little paintings were practice for other pieces I wanted to paint or maybe they just sparked the idea for the larger paintings. I painted tomatoes and then went on to paint a larger tomato painting. I painted single nasturtium flowers and then a complex painting of a nasturtium bouquet. The single flower stem of black and blue salvia and my two small hummingbird paintings led to the larger painting of salvia and a hummingbird. I do the same sort of practice in my sketchbooks, but in some ways this was more fun.
So what did I learn?
- painting a lot leads to a lot more painting -- this is true for other art or creative activities, too
- ideas come from working, not from thinking
- working loosely does not mean losing control
- becoming obsessed with a subject can be a good thing
- some days & some paintings are better than others and that's ok... just keep going
- working in series can be inspiring and fun
- practice, practice, practice
- sometimes my least favorite painting might be more "popular" than my favorite
I'd highly recommend challenging yourself like this. It doesn't have to be painting and it doesn't have to be public. Maybe it's writing in your journal every day for the coming month, or working on a sewing or crochet project. Maybe you want to start a daily sketchbook. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to try a new recipe once a week.
Whatever it is will be beneficial.
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
So what do you think? Are you up for a challenge? I'd love to hear about it!
(And thank you Jaime for suggesting I dive into the challenge in the first place. I really appreciate it!)