Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Questioning the Daily Painting Movement

An apple a day is good for you, but how about a painting a day?

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else ever feels a little trapped by the Daily Painting Movement- you know, to keep paintings small and work quickly no matter what. Most of all, to keep churning them out.

I'm going through some confusion over whether I want to paint quickly, or slow down and spend at least several days on a painting, or maybe even several weeks. I mean, what would happen if I spent a week on a painting? Would I get off to a good start and then ruin it by overworking, which has certainly happened to me? Or would I come up with a more satisfying statement? 

Would I make less money? (gulp)

It's a good thing to be able to simplify, and having to learn to finish up quickly has been good for me, but sometimes I wonder if the practice of Daily Painting encourages superficiality....please share your thoughts!  
Conversation continues here


  1. I actually have just been thinking the same thing. (I totally love your clouds by the way, these ones even more than the first!) I've been working on a portrait that is small (6x6) and I HAVE been taking my time on it, because I think she called for a more refined working method. And then I found myself trying to rush through it this afternoon just so I'd have something to post! But then I got frustrated because it wasn't going with my 'vision' for the painting!

    So yes. I think it can be a little stifling. Although at the same time it has been very good for me too. Especially since I tend to suffer from detailitis. But I also wonder if it is causing artists to churn out work just for the sake of having work to post without any real feeling behind it. Not that that's bad sometimes. But maybe not all the time.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Crystal! You have expressed my sentiments exactly- often I feel that I need to post something and rush a piece.
    I also suffer from "detailitis"- love that word! The Daily Painting Movement really helped cure me.

  3. I think that something may have been lost in translation from the original intent of the daily painting concept.
    While painting everyday is a great goal, churning out 300 plus small (and in many artist's case) very similar paintings seems almost like having a factory job ;)
    Artists like Carol Marine have made an interesting twist on the daily painting treadmill. It is my understanding that she does her week's worth of small paintings in two days and then has the rest of the week to concentrate on other work. But she can still post one a day to satisfy the DP addicts!

  4. Michael, exactly! It can become almost like a factory job. And it has to if you make $100 on a small painting- you better make many of those small paintings each week in hope that at least a couple will sell.
    So yes, something has been lost from the original idea.
    And as for Carol Marine, she's got a good idea there.

  5. I am so glad you brought this up Taryn. I have been really struggling with the daily painting concept. Yes, I can see the merits (battling with 'detailitis' as well),but there must be some time when one can really think and paint and change things and paint again, and sigh...Painters used to step back and look for ages and I wonder have we misplaced the time needed for that contemplative 'looking'?

  6. The daily paint market is an interesting creation and it has been very important as far as opening the web to artist and developing a market for inexpensive original art. But I am in the camp that a movement needs more of a philosophical base outside of consumption, merchandising, marketing and mass production. Often I can not see the difference between the work being mass produced from the ” Oil Painting Village of Darfin” in China and the Daily Paint Bombardments.

    Do not get me wrong I admire many artist that are participating in the daily paint thing, I mean who can not but admire the works of Duane Kieser and Julian Merrow Smith?I am just having difficulties in understanding why it is ok to mass produce small daily paintings often from photographs and yet we are appalled by what goes on in paint factories.

    I think you should give the Slow Art Manifesto a read, a different perspective on things.
    Here is a link from a gallery in Atlanta, the orginal PDF version with art work can still be found online.

    Slow Painting - Traditional Fine Arts Organization

  7. I think what it really comes down to is listening to your own artistic impulses and then following them. For some artists, daily painting fulfills them and they are able to execute ideas and feelings perfectly in a short period of time. For others more thought and time is required to get across their feelings. I think if more artists would listen to how they feel about painting, what makes them happy, what excites them, then there would be less superficial art. Less trying to be like everyone else. I don't think there's anything wrong with daily painting or slow painting, or painting from life or painting from photos as long as you as the artist are heeding your own inner vision instead of someone elses.

  8. Annamaria, my sentiments exactly. I love painting quickly but I also love sometimes taking my time. Too many paintings painted too quickly can be superficial things.

  9. Jim, I love your comments! Very well put indeed. Your comparison of factory art and the Daily Painting Movement is fascinating. I sure like the Slow Art Manifesto link that you provided- thank you.
    The way art used to be, quick studies were considered essential tools and longer term paintings were taken more seriously. Now we value the quick sketches of certain artists very highly (John Constable for example), and consider spontaneity a very high value. Well I love painting quickly but too much of it can be...well too much!

  10. Crystal, I agree. We need to be ourselves. Of course the issue of having a blog can add a twist- I love having a blog because it is a great and easy way to communicate what i'm up to. On the other hand, it can be tremendous pressure to try and post almost every day.

  11. Great topic for discussion Taryn. I started my blog a little over a year as a way to set goals and track my progress. For me, the appeal of daily painting movement was is its focus on painting regularly. I wanted to learn, practice different techniques, grow in my work and develop my own style. I set a goal to complete a small painting every day and set to it.
    But man, I failed at that real quick! Small paintings would take me several days or even weeks to finish, (still do), and that was really discouraging at first. I began to detest that unfinished painting staring at me from my easel. It was a symbol of my failure to be the free-minded, confident artist I thought I'd be, cranking out a painterly masterpiece on a daily basis. Why couldn't I get over myself and stop fussing with this thing? Just get it done and move on!
    I've since learned to make peace with that part of myself and think of "daily painting" as a verb, not a noun. It's the practice of painting daily, not the output. I'd love to complete a painting more often, and a painting a day is a good goal to set, but for me it's just not realistic and maybe never will be.
    For those of you painting full-time, I can imagine the pressure you feel to earn, especially if daily paintings are your bread and butter. That large passion project you've been wanting to get to can be a very real sacrifice. Would it even work, and if so, would it sell? Would the time it takes to complete it be better spent on daily paintings? On the other side of the coin, the pressure to crank out one a day can certainly produce work that's less than stellar, or doesn't say what you want it to because it's been deemed finished before it was ready.
    All in all the movement has its value - but I think it's vital to strike a balance.

  12. Karen, I can relate!! I read about Carol Marine finishing off two or even three paintings in one day, sometimes completing one in 45 minutes- and they are SO GOOD too- and I wish I could paint so well at such a pace. I often feel that I'm trying to mold myself in her style, but over and over relearn that I see things in my own way, and have to be myself.
    Part of the reason I love seeing your work over at Daily Paintworks is exactly because of your longer attention span from much of the work there. I love that you have more complex compositions and just enough detail to draw the viewer in, but your work never looks stiff and overworked.

  13. I have not been at this painting thing long enough to have thought about how I might feel about it in a year or two.
    I have found in my life that when I start asking questions an answer will come . Not right away and not the final answer by any means but just enough of a hint of an answer to guide me to the next "baby step" I need to take.
    I do find the "answer" is often a surprise. Something I never expected. I will be watching to see where you decide to move (artistically).

  14. Wow! Thank you so much for the topic! Am relatively new to the "movement," and have felt like an Outlier, or Imposter, because I am not doing so much as the rest of you are doing. But as many of you have said, indeed, it has improved my painting when I do it.

    I sort think there are several issues that relate ... one, the task of painting daily and producing some work. I see what some of you mean about factory production, AND, I believe that repeating some of my work makes me better at it.

    I don't know who said it, but it's better to do thirty one-hour paintings than to do one thirty-hour painting ... one learns more from the repetitiveness of painting many smal, and sometimes related, small pieces. Really, that paradigm works for me ... SOMETIMEs.

    The Daily Painting thing, for me, is akin to "binge drinking." Well, that's sort of a course parallel, but what I mean is, I "get the fever," and can crank out about a dozen small painitngs, then nothing for sometimes weeks!

    When I started TRYING to do the daily painting there was a great deal of self-flaggelating [sp?], because I wasn't "good enough." Have been sort of getting over that, but there are a couple of other issues in play.

    I "get" the thing about wanting to post something every day or almost every day ... I have so enjoyed becoming a member of such a great community of artists, and I love the feedback from everyone, good or not so good.

    I also like the immediacy of the the responses and community activity. That's worth a lot, too.

    The other thing, in terms of having these small works, and being able to sell a lot of little pieces is kinda cool in this economy. I believe that the canary in the coal mine has been the selling [or not selling] of my work ... larger pieces aren't selling as well as the smaller ones, given the dynamics of the current economy. Folks still want "original art," but at a price, and these little gems satisfy that.

    I love the person here [don't remember who] that called Daily Painting a verb. I am going to steal that phrase, if you don't mind ... it's great!

    And, I will close by saying, bottom line, I/we do what we can, and whatever works at the time is good enough! I really am believing that, and not beating myself up for not doing more. I am becoming a happier painter, and will do what I can when I can. And, again, the best part, is being a member of a wonderful community of artists and folks with whom I can share thoughts like these without sounding as if I have two heads! Thanks to all of you!

  15. Jo, you've got it exactly right- I'm asking questions and I need to be patient and see where the questions will take me. I always SO appreciate your input.

  16. Dee, thanks for your comments- a lot to think about. Yes, smaller pieces tend to be easier to sell than larger, more long term ones, and then there is the need to post often so that people know that you are alive and kicking. It's not all bad- it has kept me painting for quite a while, and the pressure has been good for me. But lately I'm feeling like I just want to slow down.

  17. nothing is worse than having to do something on a schedule..yes its good to work on smaller paintings and be more loose ..its all about the practice..but I have found if Im having a bad day I mess up everything on canvas I have to take a break away and center myself outside.Yes I identify with the overworking obsessive syndrome

  18. Great topic and well worth examining. I'm fairly new to the movement and although I have not been able to pull off the practice of actually painting "daily" I think I have benefited by having that as a goal. I need some structure to help kick start me and having a blog to "answer to" gives me enough pressure to paint on a more regular basis than before. I came to this after painting murals for years... subjects and styles to please my clients rather than myself. I saw this as an opportunity of paint regularly enough and start fresh often enough to help me find my own artistic direction. But, now I see myself getting sucked into playing to the crowd a little... I find myself keeping an eye on what might sell or get approval instead of painting what my heart wants or what might benefit my development as an artist. This is the trap that I don't want to fall into and I think that's where some of the problem lies. It seems some artists have discovered the "formula" for whipping out "sellers" and they just cookie cut them over and over. Some I tire of but others, even though they are done fast and regularly, are really fresh and very well done. I see the daily thing as practice and as a path to find what's next for me. I have a long way to go to develop myself and I think the daily painting idea is a sound practice to help achieve that. So, it seems to serve different roles for different people. Right now I'm loving it.:)

  19. Kathleen, thanks for your input. You have mentioned the elephant in the room- the desire to make a sale. I think about this issue all the time. Over time I've come to realize that if I was able to find a style and subject matter that meant I would sell almost everything I did (probably impossible for me anyhow), I might end up miserable. We all have to follow our own true north. Painting in the way that each artist really wants to, deep down inside, should be the goal of everyone because it is more fulfilling, and...I really believe is better when it is not done in imitation of someone else's work. To truly be yourself might mean, in the long run, that you will be more successful anyhow. If not, teach :)

  20. I've been contemplating on the same question as well. No answer yet but I am now kind of taking a break. Since I joined DPW 3 months ago, I've been giving myself pressure to produce a painting a day. It was a really good exercise and helped to improve my skills. On the other hand, I don't want to paint just to have something to post the next day. Now I try to take my time and paint larger again. I may finish a painting not in one day but two days or three days. And that's ok. What's more important is that I enjoy the process and I don't feel rushed. Thanks for raising the topic. I love your work by the way! :)

  21. Great subject here. I can relate to just about everything said. The pressure to not just post every day but post something NEW everyday! The pressure to create something different than the others but still sell! Even the pressure to come up with a title for all these little paintings! That's how it feels to me some days...too much pressure. But in my case, painting is how I make a living so just showing up at the studio feels like pressure sometimes. A lot of us artists are rebels by nature so trapping ourselves in a 'must do' situation rubs us the wrong way. But for the most part I've enjoyed the daily thing. Working so small has been a huge change for me and hopefully I've grown by painting 6"x6". One thing I like a lot about the push to produce a complete painting quickly is it easily leads to a more spontaneous looking piece. Someone here mentioned that they wondered what it would be like to spend weeks or more on one painting. I often did that on larger pieces before the daily painting practice took hold of me. Many of those paintings never came to completion. It's easy to lose your way on a piece after coming to it in the studio day after day. Since I started trying to produce a small daily painting, I've found it even harder to spend too much time on my bigger pieces. I very much like the freshness of staying at a piece until it's done. Even if that means going at it 8 or 10 hours. I never want to leave a painting and come back later. I'm always afraid the muse will be gone the next morning.(and it often is!)I originally started the daily thing with no realistic expectation of producing a new painting every day. Instead I took it on as incentive to Paint every day but not necessarily to complete one daily. Even so I found myself not wanting to photograph my progress on every painting and post it every day even though I worry that my blog audience will wander away if I don't keep amusing them. I'll say this, and I may be wrong, but I think we are all apart of an art movement that will be categorized in later years. I imagine, at some distant point, a gallery show of collected DAILY paintings from this era. That's kinda cool huh?!


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