The Stress of Painting a "Painting a Day"

Posted September 11 2012
Submitted by: Carolee Clark

Set a Goal!

In March 2009, I gave myself a new challenge … to become a “daily painter” for one year, producing one small painting at least 5 to 6 times a week. To stay motivated I would post each painting on my blog and they would be for sale at a very affordable rate.

There were two reasons for this new objective. I am always striving to become a better painter and figured this couldn’t hurt. Secondly, I wanted to see how small, inexpensive paintings would sell.

What I didn’t expect was how long these smaller paintings would take to complete. Coming up with an idea, doing a thumbnail sketch to compose it, paint and complete a painting takes me a minimum of 8 hours! Even then, the painting might not be up to par, so I wouldn’t post it. Believe me, this doesn’t leave much room to complete the other art business chores (photographing, posting to the blog, shipping, marketing, sales, bookkeeping, ordering supplies), not to mention other life activities such as grocery shopping, spending time with your family, or practicing your chip shots (golf for those of you who don’t share my other passion).

This self-induced stress of trying to complete a painting in a day did have some rewards. I was selling a few paintings and the feedback I was getting was positive and encouraging. In that first year I did manage to paint an average of 5.8 paintings a week.

Three years later and a wee bit wiser, I have learned a few things:
    •    In a small painting, I like to keep the subject matter simple although I enjoy embellishing it with patterns.
    •    It works better for me to relax and paint each day. I can’t worry about completing the painting.
    •    This goal helped me to understand what I like to paint. Although I paint a lot of figures, I like to keep my perspective fresh by painting the odd landscape, still life, city scene or pet.
    •    I don’t like to paint realistically … I love to have fun with expressionistic colors and shapes, even distorting, simplifying, or patterning.
    •    At times it takes several sessions to come out with a good painting. That’s okay, as I’d rather have a painting with which I am happy.
    •    Painting a day forces completion. Sometimes that is a good thing, especially for the perfectionist.
    •    And small paintings do sell well!

Now I paint a “painting a day” every other day. It leaves me time to fine tune a painting, live life without the added stress and still paint affordable art.
It is incredibly difficult to produce a painting a day. However it is not difficult to be in my studio painting every day.