Have you heard of the Painting a Day movement? It started back in 2004 when Duan Keiser set out to share his art on the internet (you know, before Facebook and Instagram were even part of our lives…ah, sounds so peaceful to me now). Anyway, what started with one man has turned into thousands of artists striving to do one small painting a day – mostly every day. I am always looking for practical ways to get creativity into my life so when I discovered this idea years ago, I was intrigued.
The part that caught my attention was the idea of using a small canvas to get a whole painting done in less time. When I say small, I mean anywhere from 2×2 to 6×6 inches small. So, about a year ago, I went to my local Micheal’s, picked up a stack of 4×4 – 6×6 canvases to try it out. And, while I don’t get to paint every day, this mini-canvas concept has changed the way I do art. Here’s why :
Life is BUSY
I don’t know about you but I don’t have hours a day (or even a week!) to dedicate to my art practice. Motherhood and life, in general, has a way of filling up fast. But just because this stage of life is busy, doesn’t mean I want to get out of the practice of making art! That’s where the small canvas comes in. Because of the small size, I can usually make something I’m happy with, in about an hour. I don’t have to tell you how good it feels to actually accomplish something (like a whole painting!) in about an hour.
I Like To Try New Things
Another reason this idea works for me is that I like to try all different kinds of styles. Because I’m only investing an hour or so and very few materials, I feel freer to experiment with styles or techniques that I’ve always wanted to try.
Carol Marine the author of the book Daily Painting says, “Painting small and often gave me the freedom to experiment. Every day I got to start on an entirely new project. No longer did I feel overwhelmed by the large number of things I wanted to paint – I could do them all. If one subject or one style didn’t work out, well, I didn’t sweat it. I had only invested a part of a day’s worth of work on it, after all. My fear of failing disappeared — well, almost. Probably a little fear is good for us. I do know I was no longer making excuses not to paint.”
I think the thing that trips me up the most when it comes to painting (or any medium, really) is that I’ll waste not only my time but hard earned cash on something that doesn’t “turn out”. With the painting small concept, those fears all but disappear! Because I’m using a small canvas (that I can usually find for close to a dollar) and very little paint, I can enjoy the process and know that even if it doesn’t turn out to be my best work, I am not out much time or money.
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I learn just as much about composition, color, value, etc. when I’m working on a small canvas as I do working on a larger one. Then, I can take what I’ve learned from my small painting and implement it on something else. I have found that I learn so much from these little paintings and have gained more confidence in my skills as my art started to improve more quickly.
It Doesn’t Have to Be a Canvas
It’s important to note that this concept really translates to any medium. I tried it out in my sketchbook with great success. Just a sketch a day instead of a painting. I was amazed at what I could do in just a few minutes a day. You could use anything from oils to pastels to charcoal to collage work. Just make it small and see what happens for you!
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