January 31, 2012

Day 1 of Tracy's Daily Painting Project

Welsh Landscape 1 -- watercolor on canvas 10 x 8" (20.3 x 25cm)
Before I started doing this painting project, I reviewed lots of other artist's work to get a better idea of where I wanted to go with this, and how I wanted to handle things.  I saw a lot of great work, and realized,  when looking at different people's sites, I came to understand
that there are many ways to do daily painting "right." 

For instance, some painters truly clearly felt compelled to produce a painting each day. Others were comfortable, instead to commit to creating a fixed number of paintings a week.  Some restricted themselves to working only from life. Others also looked to  photo reference and/or their own imaginations for inspiration.  Some marketed their work on one source, and other's took a broader marketing approach.  Some limited themselves to 30 minutes or less to paint: , others didn't.

No matter what their commitments about how they would work, the daily painters had something really important that united them:  a belief that submitting themselves to the discipline of producing work so consistently over a long period of time would help them grow as artists.  

Craig Nelson, the author of one of my favorite painting boos,  60 Minutes To Better Painting, called doing this giving yourself "brush mileage."  Like Nelson encouraged his readers to do, daily painters see these little daily paintings as serving a purpose different from their larger, finished work.  The process used to produce them is at least as important as the look of the finished works themselves.  I love that idea.

I look forward to using this year to increase my observational, painting, and composition skills as each painting increases my own personal brush mileage.  However, I'm following the folk who produce 3 to  (ideally) 5 new paintings a week.  I'm not committing myself to a set time to do the work because I accept that working quickly is a skill that I'm still in the process of learning. I am, however, going to restrict the size of these pieces I produce.  The works I create must be able to fit in one of the USPS priority mail boxes.  Doing that will make shipping more affordable for buyers and myself.  Thus, none of the pieces will be larger 12 x 14" (30 x 35 cm), and most will be smaller.   For instance, today piece is 8 x 10.  Finally,  I'm planning to produce work in a variety of media because that is something I've always loved to do, and I've been restricting almost exclusively to oil painting in the last year.

Although I really like the idea of working from life,  I'm going to be one of those folk who uses a variety of inspirations for my paintings.  I'm doing this because I have all types of photo references, etc. that I've gathered over the years that I would have loved to tackle.  Now, I have an excuse to do that, and I'm thrilled.  That being said, I'm going to do at least one painting a week from life also because since I normally do paint from photo references, I know can use practice working from life.

Today's painting, Welsh Landscape 1, is based on a watercolor sketch I did years ago when we first visited Wales.  Wales holds a special place in my heart because an English travel agent tried to discourage my husband and me from visiting there -- dismissing the Welsh as unfriendly and strange. As Americans, my husband and I decided that we wanted to make up our own minds, and we are so glad that we did.  We found the people to be warm and friendly, and much of the landscape beautiful and dramatic.  For that reason, my earlier sketch held a special place in my heart.  However, I had just starting to paint, so the materials I used weren't as archival as I use now, and I'm thrilled by the opportunity to revisit the topic.  I'll probably revisit again later in the year as my skills doing fast, small works grows.

I'd love your feedback on this piece and on the way I've decided to approach my own daily painting project.

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