How to get into the habit of Daily Painting

‘Daily painting’-the habit of completing small paintings on a daily basis has always intrigued me. In my experience, oil painting takes forever to set up and clean up. If there was a way that I could streamline the process, I was all in. I read about this process in this book, “Daily Painting: Paint small and often to become a more creative, productive, and successful artist,” by Carole Marine. She about her little hacks of incorporating daily painting into her schedule.

I decided to try it. I was not brand new to oil painting but never painted consistently because of the hassle of setting up, mixing paint, choosing references, and cleaning-up. I ordered Fredrix Canvas Paper. Instead of ordering Quantity “1” in my checkout, I accidentally ordered “10.” When they came, I decided not to return the order. Instead, I took it as a sign that I was supposed to really give Daily Painting a try.

I prepared by canvases ahead of time. First, I used painter’s tape and secured the canvas paper to a foam whiteboard. Then, I prepared them with a neutral color (acrylic).

I choose my reference ahead of time. Sometimes, I find choosing reference to be the hardest part. I usually decide on a particular type of image that I want to work on (ie faces, body parts, facial expressions, etc.). I usually study an anatomy book as I draw so that I am constantly learning something new. I choose about 14 images ahead of time. I spend a few hours drawing each image in charcoal pencil on the canvas paper.

Once I have completed the setup for a particular painting, I usually spend 3-5 hours actually painting. I try to finish the quick study in one sitting. I record color combinations in a separate notebook. I enjoy these blocks of daily painting sessions immensely. Over the years, I have completed hundreds of small paintings and have re-ordered the Frederix Canvas paper in batches of 10 (intentionally this time). The initial paintings were quite bad but over time, they did get better as I practiced. Here are some of my favorite pieces I have completed using this daily painting technique.

Do I get to paint daily? No, I wish I had the time. Per year, I usually complete 3 ‘blocks’ of Daily Painting sessions (1-2 month to get set up and draw initial sketches while studying anatomy and 1 month to complete the 14 studies. If I am lucky, I complete 40 small studies/year (3 X 14). Even with this small amount of time, I do feel that I am improving.

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