Painting everyday is not a new thing. Painting is not new. Watercolour is not new.
But for a self taught artist constantly growing in art and business, it’s a heaven sent opportunity to learn. And that’s what I want to focus on in this blog post. Putting into writing what I learnt, documenting some of my struggles, grappling with the sometimes wild animal called ‘creativity’ and so on, has been a journey that I want to put under the microscope in this piece.
Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful. - Margaret J. Wheatley
For the last part of 2023, I’d been painting larger, so coming to 4x6 inches, meant that I couldn’t convey every single detail. It was a good exercise in simplifying. Instead of painting every blade of grass. I painted the grass as one single green blob! Instead of painting in every single flower in the distance consciously, they had to become coloured dots.
That experience will come in good stead when I start to paint big again in February 2024. Not everything can be reduced to dots in this case. And yet what do I want you as a viewer to feast your eyes on? That is something I’m constantly thinking as I paint every piece.
January is a month I focus particularly on flowers. There are a number of reasons for this. It’s well documented that greenery and flowers benefit mental health. I love a snowy scene, but the colour green has a profound effect on the human mind, it’s just the way we’re made. So painting flowers during a season when they’re hard to come by helps me uplift not just myself, but everyone who sees it, whether on social media or email subscribers.
It’s also an opportunity for me to try new flowers that I’ve not tried before. This time I tried giant thistles, hydrangeas, cornflowers, cloth of gold, mimosa and more. Sometimes I learn so much from painting a flower one way that I want to try it another way when I paint bigger.
I also have come to recognise the parts of a painting I need to focus on experimenting more. Instead of resorting to the same plan every time, taking risks, knowing very well that it may end in disaster, becomes a way to grow.
Painting every weekday for 3 weeks is not easy. I take my hat off to my fellow artists who paint everyday for long periods of time. But each one of us would agree that it grew us enormously. Week 1 saw me get into it gently. By the end of that week, my children challenged to paint things I haven’t ever painted. That took me well out of my comfort zone.
Week 2 was not easy. I suppose that happens in the middle of every race and every journey. There’s always points when one feels like giving up. I certainly had some of it. That’s the point when I tell everyone “I’m not doing it ever again!” Really Pradeepa?! No, of course not! Because a week later, I’m super excited about the work I’ve produced.
Even adults are allowed to have secret tantrums right?! That was good character building in perseverance and tenacity though. It reinforces the belief that I’m called to be an artist and when times get tough, I just need to hold on with peace and patience.
As an artist who relies a lot on social media for publicity, this season helps to attract so many who love the art that I do. I find many of my ‘online art family’ during this period. It also helps me clarify what my email subscribers are looking for.
Another learning point was to continue to maintain a daily painting practice. I’m aware that it may not be possible to the same intensity as January, but daily painting equals daily learning. I know I’m on the journey to becoming a super-amazing artist, but even when I get there, I want to be an everyday learner. As I heard someone say once, “Life is so daily”.
What he meant was that growth happens in small everyday chunks, not always in leaps and bounds. Don’t dismiss the small things.
The other big difference that I saw in my practice was using sketches before I paint. “Elementary, my dear Watson” many artists will say. I know that! And yet I hadn’t always practiced sketches or small studies before I started painting. January 2024 marked a turning point in that sense.
Now it’s fundamental to my art practice. With that in mind, I’ve bought myself a sketch book to experiment with colours and composition. Watch this space!
The value of painting daily impacted me like never before. I hope to paint everyday this year going forward, even if it’s for a few minutes. That’s the other thing I’m going to use my sketchbook for! Paintbrush, you’re not going on leave this year!
Last but not the least, creating something out of nothing requires intense focus and concentration. While it was good to have an intense spell of productivity, I did sneak in a bit of rest after that. That was so good! And what more, it restored my voracious hunger to paint!
As a result of my observations this year, I’m going to make changes in the way I do January daily painting next year. It’s not just going to be about me and my art anymore! It will still be the time I put out my most affordable paintings, but with a twist.
And so, I will be doing it again. Those flowers are going to come to the rescue in cold bleak January 2025!
What a wonderful way to dive into a new year!
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, please do let me know what you think in the comments below. I would love to hear how this blessed you or challenged you!