This year I set an intention (not a goal!) to try and paint everyday. I'm one month in so I thought I would post an update.

I started painting daily on my iPad back in december, but I'll ignore that time period and keep these kinds of posts to reflection on one month at a time.

My Structure

I wake up, make coffee, have a small bite to eat, grab my iPad and start to think about what to paint. Picking what I want to paint is sometimes hard, but I don't struggle too much with it. I check in with how I'm feeling or my mood and that usually dictates what I want to paint. Some days I'll browse artvee because I feel like doing a master's study, or am looking for inspiration. Most days I would say that I aim to do something that improves my ability to render something as it appears in life - at least for now, I'm not painting abstractly, or very expressively.

Get on with it

Because the intention is to paint everyday I can't dilly-dally on what I'm going to paint. At most, deciding takes about 5 minutes. I occasionally remind myself there is no point in dwelling on whether something is cool, stupid, difficult, interesting etc. For me (and for now), improving is a numbers game. I want to improve at several aspects of painting, and (I think) I've finally learned that there is no shortcut to this. I have to paint a lot of bad paintings. Might as well get on with it.

Wearing down my filter

The upside of the above is that I've worn down my filter somewhat - if an idea comes to my mind, most times I'll try and paint it. If I read a scene in a book that I thought was particularly visual or interesting, I'll try and paint it. If I had a dream about something, I'll try and paint it. My ideas are being gated less and less. This is probably the best side effect I've felt so far. In many ways, I feel like I'm slowly returning to a creativity I had more of when I was younger.

Finding what I'm interested in

When I say I'm "wearing down my filter", I am also saying that I am being more gentle with myself. There is no reason to be mean to an idea, after all. An idea comes to mind, I try and paint it, and sometimes I'll feel good about how it turned out and sometimes I won't (and of course, all kinds of feelings in between). The positive side effect of this is that I'm quickly learning what I want to paint and what I don't want to. This will help me sort out my ideas when it comes time that I wish to do more expressive paintings.

Pick something simple

When it comes to subject matter I've realized more often than not that I need to pick something simple. My intention is to paint everyday. I did not say to myself that "I must do one unique painting everyday" - I'm certainly "allowed" to work on something over several days…however, I'm not interested in that yet. I'm interested in the benefits of quantity over quality, of trying something new everyday, of failing and picking myself back up over and over, and laughing at at the funny mistakes I make along the way.

The above variety helps me feel motivated. This month I tried one painting that spanned two days, and I quickly got discouraged after realizing I had picked something too complicated. Partly, my impatient side wanted to see "finished results" quickly. While impatience is something I do struggle with when I'm trying to get better at something, I'm not interested in improving my endurance when working on a long piece (that will come later), right now I'm excited about creating something everyday, no matter how simple.

I suppose I subscribe to the idea that everyone can draw/paint/etc, but first they have to get the thousands of bad drawings and paintings out first before they can make good ones.

On digital painting

It appears that I'll be doing digital painting going forward. I still try and paint with watercolour 2-3 times a week. I prefer painting with real paint right now, but I also want to be able to do digital painting. Here are some reflections on using the iPad:

  • It was not intuitive at first.
  • Watching tutorials and learning about shortcuts was super helpful!
  • It can be difficult to "stop" painting digitally because you can undo,redo, fix and touch up for ever.
  • I thought I needed fancy custom made digital brushes, but that was just a distraction from doing the work - what Procreate comes with is great!

That's all for now. I'll make my next update more along the 4 month mark if I make it!