Hello there! This post is a short update on how my daily painting is going. My last update on painting everyday can be read here.

The short of it is that things are going well! I have managed to paint everyday in the mornings. This has been easier during the winter months when I don't really want to go outside. Things might get harder as the nice weather comes along. On the other hand, I'll be much more likely to be painting outside.

Being picky with ideas

I was a bit naive in my one-month-check-in. I had thought that I was getting better at not filtering my ideas and just painting whatever I felt like doing that day. I think as I painted more and more I was getting tired of the subject matter I was coming up. I got a bit tired of doing studies from pieces on Artvee, or I was finding it hard to find the daily objects around me interesting enough to paint. For a string of days I was doing a digital painting in the morning and a still life in gouache over my lunch break. I really enjoyed the still life studies, and working with physical mediums was much more satisfying.

I started to jump between a couple different subjects. I was either doing studies from Studio Ghibli films, a master's study, or something from my imagination. I think the latter is the most exciting, because at the end of the day I want to improve my ability to realize things I imagine and to connect with the imagination I had as a kid. With that said, the images from my imagination come out much more crude than the studies, as I usually don't go looking for reference in the short time I have in the morning to paint (and ironically, reference is key to help realize what you're imagining).

The challenge with picking a subject matter is that when I do a study from life or an existing piece the result is more artistically satisfying; when I work from my imagination I'm less picky, more excited at the ideas but less happy with the result.

Stop trying to optimize

My analytical/programmer mind is often looking for shortcuts. This is frustrating because I don't want to get caught up in the race to just be good at something. My ego definitely wants me to be talented, but I'd like to be more mindful about the fun I can have through art, rather than debating the merits of what paths to take to optimize getting better more quickly. I think this is a sad side effect that programming has had on me; I'm always looking for optimizations.

In order to avoid this, I think I will give preference to painting expressively and trying to realize ideas from my imagination. I think, underneath the desire to be good is just a more base desire to express myself and have fun - that there is something inherently humxn to carve out a piece of the world to make your own. To be caught up in how something should look is a bit of a sad anchor, when I start to think about it. Maybe this means I'll move away from representative painting for a while. Not sure.

Still, let's talk about improvement

Regardless of what I just wrote, part of the fun is also to see progress - I can't deny that. Some friends who have watched my daily posts mention that they see the improvement - and while I believe them, I look at the last 75 or so paintings I've done in the last 60 days and see more a list of things I learned that I might avoid in the future. Further, because I'm jumping between types of subjects and styles a fair bit, I don't quite see specific improvements. Nonetheless, I'll try and surmise a few improvements / things I've learned:

Simplify the study

If you're doing a study that is complicated and time is a factor - just pick a small part of it and study. Rather than try and paint a full portrait for example - just paint a part of it. I really enjoyed the outcome of this small part of a painting. I just focused on the face of a character in a painting.

Do value / colour studies

Doing value and colour studies side by side are definitely good practice. I think I'll have to do quite a few more of these (and they're fun, too).

Do still life paintings

A collage of still-life practice.

I was sort of whinging about still-life practice above, but in looking at some of these images I am really proud of them and remembered that I enjoyed working on every one of them in the moment. The interesting subjects of the toys and knick-knacks were (and are) more exciting to me, whereas the other household, while interesting in their own special way, still aren't that captivating to me after the fact.

Study what you like

Sometimes I feel compelled to only do studies from pieces on Artvee because I've told myself that it will help me improve faster. While I enjoy doing those studies, I more enjoy doing studies of art styles I actually like. I love Studio Ghibli films, and after seeing Princess Mononoke in theatres recently, I remembered that some of these films were what inspired me to want to paint and learn to drawer years ago. So, study what inspired you! Don't just study a bunch of historically famous people because they are supposed to be masters. Study what inspires you.

I really like how the Ghibli studies I did came out. It made me appreciate the films even more! I really like how the one of the water from Kiki's Delivery Service came out - I always wanted to be able to re-create simplified water studies (they especially remind me of Wind Waker, a game I loved as a kid). I'll try and continue following down that path.

Keep going

I'm reminded of this quote from Drawing lessons from the great masters:

“You must realize that there is no royal road to drawing. It is practice, practice all the way. So get your pad of paper and start drawing simple lines. You will find it very hard to make a really straight line, and harder to make a vertical line than a horizontal. Try drawing a perfect circle. Draw a few thousand and they will get perceptibly better. Above all, don’t get discouraged. It is said that only the divine Raphael reached circular perfection.”

Until next time!