How I became a daily painter
For years, I struggled to make art on a regular basis. In 2019, I decided the only way for me to improve my skills and eventually become a professional artist was to paint every day. So I set out to start a daily painting practice and knew it wouldn’t work unless I had a solid plan.
Initially my goal was to make one painting every day for 30 days. In the past, I would get stuck just deciding what to paint so I wanted to have the subject matter selected in advance. In talking about it with my husband, he suggested coffee. He said, “you have coffee every day, why not paint that” and thus began my “cuppaday” painting series.
Now that I had a subject, I decided to give myself a few other parameters:
- Size – each painting would be 4×4 inches
- Materials – acrylic paint on paper
- Time – limit to approximately one hour
- When – every day (usually at the same time)
- Where – I didn’t have a studio at the time so I used our kitchen table and left my supplies on a cart nearby and my easel pushed off to the side of the table we didn’t use
- Process – take a photo each day of my morning coffee to be painted later in the day
At first, I experimented with some limited palette paintings – sometimes using only 2 colors plus white. It was interesting to see what colors I could create. Later, I expanded the palette but still often used only 3 colors plus white. I felt this led to fewer decisions and more color harmony in the small paintings.
Each piece of my watercolor paper could fit 2 paintings. I even drew the 4×4″ frames in pencil ahead of time. I numbered and dated each painting upon completion. When each page was done, I stuck it on the wall, documenting my progress as I went. This is also when I started sharing my work on Instagram every day.
By the end of the 30 days, I didn’t even consider stopping. We had a road trip coming up and to not disrupt my project, I decided to invest in a tablet computer so I could make digital paintings. Digital paintings then became another way for me to make a daily painting if I wasn’t able to use my acrylic paints.
The project lasted for more than 100 days and I did eventually expand the subject from coffee to basically anything in a cup!
For quite a long time, I did paint nearly every day but now I allow myself to take one or two days off each week. I use that time to run my business and take breaks to do other things like visiting family or gardening. Painting every day doesn’t mean painting all day – at least not for me. At most, I paint for about 4 hours in a sitting.
I believe the key to achieving my goal of painting every day was having a plan. Knowing what my subject was going to be, well in advance, saved me from wasting time making that decision every day. It taught me to keep an abundance references at hand and to work in a series.
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To view my most recent coffee paintings, visit Everyday Coffee.