The practice of Daily Painting (or “A Painting a Day” as it’s sometimes called) has been a boon to many artists, allowing them to increase sales by selling smaller works at more affordable prices as they simultaneously hone their craft.
I made a commitment to the practice of daily painting a few years ago, but eventually stopped following the routine of completing a painting each day, for some of the reasons below. If you find yourself struggling with the practice, here are a few signs that it might be time to opt out for a while:
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1. You feel that your subject matter is declining
Finding something new to paint each day poses a challenge for some artists. Daily Painters often focus on convenient material that works nicely in a series, or set small challenges for themselves such as sticking to a particular color palette or painting technique.
Depending on what stage of your artistic journey you find yourself, painting similar material repeatedly can be great practice. However, if it’s become drudgery for you (and you find yourself focusing more on your painting technique than your inspiration), it may be time to take a breather and look for more complicated subjects that get you fired up to paint.
2. You’re over-saturating your audience
When you paint something new each day and post it, you’re offering your fans a fresh chance to see new work each day. Depending on how you paint and who collects your art, posting daily might catch the eye of your blog readers and make them feel included in your artistic process.
BUT. . . if you’ve got fans who are daily painting enthusiasts in general, think about how many new paintings they must see every day. If you’re painting and posting just to keep up with your fellow daily painters, you might be not give your viewers enough time to build anticipation between your postings (again, this depends on the connection you have with those who follow your work).
Painting and posting should be on a schedule that shows your excitement about what you’ve accomplished—if that happens to be daily, weekly, or monthly, choose whichever one gives you the most enjoyment in sharing your work.
3. You’re running out of space
The biggest pitfall for me as a daily painter actually came when I’d been in the practice of it for over a year, and realized that I had way too many paintings for the amount of storage space I had, and little time or energy to put into marketing all of them. This led to a massive culling operation (which I’m still working on) and a little more reservation about creating so many paintings in short periods of time.
If you’ve got the time to market your daily paintings well (and maintain your daily painting blog as part of that), storage space and blogging time might not be much of an issue for you.
But if you’re creating prolifically and having trouble deciding what to do with your rapidly growing body of work, focusing on bigger projects for a while might bring you a little relief from your accumulated paintings.
4. You feel like you’re missing out on bigger projects
Speaking of those bigger projects, are you finding time for them?
Daily paintings make great warm-up exercises, and can help build discipline when it comes to finishing the creative works you begin. If they’re swallowing up your painting time, though, it makes it difficult to find the energy and motivation to tackle bigger paintings that require a different set of skills.
I enjoy entering my work into local shows, but found for a while that I hadn’t made much time for those bigger paintings that gave me something to contribute to shows. I’d put so much effort into painting each day (and finishing those paintings to my satisfaction by the end of the day) that I’d used up all of my “big idea” energy.
I had also become a little nervous about letting bigger paintings sit unfinished for periods of time, preferring the comfort of the smaller, completed paintings. This was a sign that I needed to rearrange my painting priorities, so that I could tackle some bigger paintings without the worry of getting those smaller ones completed during valuable painting time.
5. You’re not growing as an artist
Daily painting is a practice that can get you into a new place artistically. When I started using this method, it got me into a regular painting practice and allowed me to get comfortable with consistently completing work.
Under some circumstances, however, it can also become a burden on your artistic growth. If you feel that Daily Painting has pushed you into a rut, it may be a method that’s run its course for you.
The ability to adapt and evolve is an important one for artists. If you find yourself turning down new challenges and avoiding artistic risk-taking, you may want to ask yourself if Daily Painting is meeting your need for artistic growth. If you arrive at the conclusion that it’s hindering your artistic development as opposed to nurturing it, there’s nothing wrong with a change in your painting methods.
The purpose of this article isn’t to put down the idea of daily painting or discourage artists who use the method. For myself, I had a very hard time taking that “daily painter” label off of my bio pages, because it felt like I was going back on a commitment I had made.
I’ll probably go back to the practice of daily painting in the future, but with more awareness and better goals (for example, using a limited time frame, or with a mindset to develop a particular skill).
If you feel like you’re abandoning a commitment by letting go of the practice of completing a painting every day, remember that daily painting is merely a tool you can choose to use or not. Which means you can always recommit to it if you find that you work better as a daily painter.