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One-a-day Wonders

September 19, 2010

On Sunday February 14, 2010 I began a disciplined exercise of painting a painting in one day, for multiple days.  Originally, I wanted to paint a painting per day for 365 days.  My sister told me I was unrealistic and basically not thinking straight.  I had had a very sad and stressful two years and quickly came to realize that I was not thinking clearly.  My sister had been right.

I have kept notes on each painting from the start of the exercise.  On my first days entry I wrote –  “ My sister told me that she thought that was unrealistic and I am inclined to agree with her.  I am therefore hoping for 300 paintings this year ”. I am writing this on day 217 and I have completed 57 one-a-day paintings.  This does not include my work that is not in the one per day category.  It is a lot more difficult than I had imagined!

When I began, I did not know what to expect, where to begin.  I decided to go back to the beginning.  When I was a child I spent hours drawing horses, any animal really, cliffs and rocks.  I remember always trying to make them look three-dimensional.  My first painting is of sheep from a photo that my husband and I took when out in the country near where we live.  She was lovely, inquisitive.  The shadows were long.  Who wouldn’t want to paint her I thought.  I couldn’t believe how quickly the painting came together.  I realized I was painting more of the feeling and memories of that day than anything else.

Although this type of painting requires a lot of thought and a different painting technique than I usually use, a technique called alla prima, I find it very stimulating and challenging and very rewarding.

I have one rule for my one-a-day paintings and that is that when the day is done there is no going back in and adding, adjusting or rethinking ANYTHING!  This has be the most aggravating thing about this process as I can always see where an improvement could be made.  Something often stands out as needing tweaking or a value could be altered for a stronger statement.  But, the rule is… ‘no touchy’.

Although painting a painting a day has its challenges, the benefits surpass any challenge that might be had.  The sense of freedom experienced when there are really no expectations for the outcome, is liberating and addictive.  For a while, I started to feel ‘put upon’ when I had to put my one-a-day experience aside in order to work on the commissions that were seemingly ‘piling up’.

I have learned more from this process than techniques  incorporated  to become a better painter.  I have learned a lot about myself and about the human condition.

The first thing I have learned is that putting in the time, going to your room, helps one hone their skills, no matter what those skills might be.  Once you begin to see improvement in the area you are working on, the skill set acquired can lead to addictive behaviours.  It seems that the more one does something that they really enjoy, or that provides them an escape from everyday pressures, the more they want to spend their time doing  just that.

The second thing I have learned is that life requires balance.  A few of my friends have brought to my attention that I am becoming a hermit.  It never even crossed my mind that I was spending an inordinate amount of time alone, in my room.  “You need to be more social”…..hmmm,’ says who’, I thought.  I did need to honour my commission commitments though and that also adds to the time spent in ‘your room’.  Finding balance is a job in itself that I find I am continuously working toward.

The third thing I have learned is that personal growth can sneak in from the most innocuous sideline.  Even doing something you absolutely love can show you sides of yourself that you might not otherwise see.  The growth and development of an human being, a creator, an artist is what it is all about!  Maybe that is the elixir of life, that is what we seek.

The one-a-day paintings that I have completed so far are posted on my website  Check them out.  For all of you artists out there, think about starting the practice for yourself but be warned….it is addictive!

Whispering Poplars

I hope that you have as much fun checking out the one-a-days as I have had painting them!

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