My Blog List

Monday, January 7, 2013

Thirty-Thirty, Fifty-Fifty

Carousel #2:  3 1/4" x  8"; Watercolor,
The smallest painting I've done was cut from
a larger effort that was trashed.  Not all sections
of a painting are bad.
I said no to the thirty thirty challenge. I had fifty fifty feelings.

On one side, I think it's imperative to draw or paint daily--like exercising to stay limber.

 On the other side, why do I have to finish a painting before the sun sets? What's the rush?

My best paintings take days. If I run into an impasse--a point where something percolating in my brain tells me to back  off for a bit and do some casual observation, a painting could take months. A little painting done in a day--a three hour work session for me for sure--takes a half a day away from the work I really want to accomplish.

I  do not like doing little paintings--thumbnail studies, of course--miniatures, six by six and smaller, painted with a one hair brush, no. But small is the only way to go if participating  in a challenge that's based upon regular production and speed.

I've worked small, but didn't enjoy it. The result looked  great on my monitor, but in my hand,  it looked insignificant. It needed fluffing--big deal double matting, expensive, wide frame fluffing.

One savvy blogger/daily painter I've come across took the presentation of her work into consideration. She sold her little ones framed  and included a table easel for$75.00. I thought she was very clever. She knew the five by seven inch size couldn't stand on its own and didn't belong on  a wall.  It was intimate; It needed to be viewed up close. I thought she had a good marketing plan.

With so many negative thoughts versus one positive one, I let  the thirty thirty challenge pass me by. The format would have to be too tiny for me to see.  Too much thought would have to be given to what subjects paint small quickly.  And worst of all,  a big chunk of my day would be lost knocking myself out painting nothing on my to do list. The Twenty Minute Challenge is  a lot less demanding and much more realistic, if  daily painting and  visibility is a priority--though I get that here too...


  1. You have summed it up Linda. Like your thinking.

    1. Thanks Ann. You take a chance when you voice your opinion. I always take the chance. If I'm wrong, people will tell me where and I'll learn something. If I'm right--well there really isn't any totally right or wrong opinions, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

      I just didn't get the 30/30 challenge. I'm already painting daily. I am not producing a finished painting in a day, but I don't think I ever have? All my paintings get a period of observation before their sides are painted and they are signed. Often adjustments are made during that time as I become emotionally separated from them and more objective about color, values, composition, line etc. In addition, there are drying times out along the way which prolong the completion. I think only the artists who specialize in a subject and have crafted a finely honed work process (limited palette, precise procedure, albeit a mechanical approach with no set up time) can deliver a finely finished painting in a few hours. If you haven't done that, I don't see any reason to knock yourself out just to get mentioned in somebody's blog--and have to mention them in yours. Now we're talking promotion via increased visibility--and that's certainly a legitimate reason to participate in a challenge of this sort if that's what you're after? I've opened a can of worms haven't I? :-)

  2. I am totally with you. I felt a bit bad. I would love a life where I could do a painting a day and post daily. I would love to challenge myself to do 30 paintings in 30 days. But that is not my life at this time.

    I work small. I am trying to get bigger. But even though I work small I spend hours and hours on my paintings and can rarely finish the same day. And these are watercolors! Even though I am not (yet) marketing/selling any of my work, it bugs me that often they are valued based uopn size despite the time.

    Actually today I have already done 3/4 of a w/c painting which is such an exception it is astounding! And I am so excited I may try to do more today (family permitting) Even then I do not think I will finish. It is a different, almost fauvist, expressionist experiment. And so far it is great fun!

    I think Carousel #2 is great! Love the colors and balance. Great cropping!

  3. Oh, and Linda - at that seminar you took did they say anything about the size of the faces in portraits? I started one of my sister-in-law, did an underpainting that is a good likeness, but believe I made it too big - it is probably beyond life size and I am concerned that when finished it may seem monstrous. I'm thinking of painting it over and starting again.

    1. From what I've noticed head/shoulder portraits are 16x20", a rule of thumb. That observation came from watching several portraiture videos and noticing how large other portrait painters paint.

      When I decided to get back to painting, the first thing I thought I should do is get myself in the habit of painting every day. I figured that after 90 days, I'd be in the habit. I figured right. As those 3years passed, I discovered I am a daily painter, but not a painting a day painter. Now that I know portraiture is my strongest point with landscapes coming in a close second, I absolutely know a painting a day is out of the question with me. I paint till I know I said what I wanted to say--regardless of what I see going on online. This last year absolutely endorsed my conclusion.

    2. Just as a point of interest, I have found that a head bigger than lifesize is uncomfortable, so I always make a basic measurement first with my hand!

  4. I feel exactly the same about a painting a day, and small paintings. That format is just not comfortable for me, and if I try to rush ANYTHING, the result is not good. Kudos to you for stating your feelings so well!!!

    1. Me neither. And rushing isn't good no matter what you're doing. Slow and steady everyday, gets you there without knocking yourself out.

  5. yes, painting trends are a lot like choices on television--there are scads of them. And just like with television, we can switch channels, turn it completely off, etc--it's all up to us. I'm in the challenge, but I have already missed a couple of days. I may or may not "catch up" is not as if some "federation" is going to jail me if I don't. What I have noticed is that many daily painters are very accomplished happy! Our friend Julie Ford Oliver is a great example. There is plenty of room in the world for every type of painter. I love the crop of your painting...I love that about watercolor, so "croppable"!

    1. Absolutely. I just found it curious why so many talented, established painters with full plates thought it would be advantageous to take a huge piece of time out of their full days for a full month to participate in a challenge that really is more suitable for beginners with no other art commitments beyond a class a week. Participation does promote everyone involved to everyone involved, so blog views and follower numbers could benefit if that's what's important? As much as I'd like my blog to be a whopping numerical success, I turned the channel. I'm up to my ears with my UFB's, promotional portraits, mailers and mailing lists, possible Christmas card/stationery designs, and somewhere in between daily painting and putting together a business, working in a class on formal portraiture to hon my skills.
      I'm not knocking daily painting; we all do it. I am knocking the idea of having to produce a finished painting in a day that will stand up to educated scrutiny three days later. That's really a rare happening. Carol Marin's work comes the closest to winning the daily painter award for excellent craftsmanship, but she's been in training for years.

      Watercolors are croppable, as are oils done on cut canvas pastels done on sanded paper. Any artwork can be cropped as long as the surface material is top grade. It's a good way to get little paintings without having to do little paintings, but the cropping option doesn't present itself very often when compositions are tight. :-)

  6. Por lo general pinto en formatos pequeños y acuarela en casa, el poco tiempo que tengo hace que priorice la agilidad y rapidez frente al resultado. Es cierto que los mejores cuadros tardan días en realizarse, el tiempo lo invierto en las clases de pintura, ahí es donde trabajo más los cuadros (que suelen ser óleos).
    Un abrazo y feliz año.

    Me gusta el reto de los 20 minutos.

    1. Sergio said: Usually I paint in small formats and watercolor at home, the little time I have done that prioritizes the agility and speed compared to the result. It is true that the best paintings take days to complete, the time is spent in painting classes, where there is more work tables (usually oil).
      A hug and happy year.

      I like the challenge of the 20 minutes.

      I replied:

      Me too Sergio. Dash offs, 20-30 minutes, are for warming up, revving up, loosening up. They shouldn't be stressful. The only challenge is to take those minutes daily before going on to more demanding work. Dash offs do not have to be a finished work of art--actually they rarely are--and if, by by chance, you do get a gem, you immediately thank God for his glorious gift. :-)

      Yo también Sergio. Offs Dash, 20-30 minutos son para calentarse, calienta motores, aflojar. No deben ser estresante. El único desafío es tomar esos minutos al día, antes de pasar a un trabajo más exigente. Offs Dash no tiene que ser una obra de arte terminada - en realidad rara vez son - y si, por casualidad, usted consigue una joya, que de inmediato gracias a Dios por su don glorioso. :-)

  7. If I was as articulate as you, I would say exactly the same!