Learn as much as you can and paint often!

“The study of art is a lifetime matter. The best any artist can do is to accumulate all the knowledge possible of art and its principles, study nature often and then practice continually.” ~Edgar Payne

Learning to paint is a like any other skill, it requires constant practice and refinement. It also requires you to do your homework….putting in the time. I like to think of it as a muscle (one of the few I actually have at the moment…LOL), if not exercised, it will break down.

I’ll admit, I was rather naïve in the early stages of painting—I felt that I could just jump right into a painting once I had an idea, or sometimes, not really have a developed idea or clear picture of what I wanted to say—just that I wanted to paint…..whether it be a landscape, a horse or whatever. Ha! I got lucky and some of those paintings worked out but a lot didn’t. I ended up putting some of them aside in frustration—and yet to pull them back out, I ended up painting over the top of some, but a lot of them made their way to the burn barrel. Basically, the first start was a “trial run” if you will—only I didn’t see it that way at the time. Had I taken the time to do a little “homework” or prep beforehand, the chances for a painting that I was happy with. I will admit, rarely does a painting EVER reach the vision in my head—mainly because I am my own worst critic—but that’s a different post. But, with a little prep, the painting stands more of a chance of reaching the vision in my head.


After a couple of very good workshops, a lot of convincing by artists I admire, and by putting into practice the suggestions of thumbnail drawings and small study paintings—I definitely see the benefit. It probably took longer for me to see the benefits than it should’ve. Part of that was laziness—yes, I hate to admit that. Part of it was the fact that I don’t always get time to paint and when I do, I wanted to jump right into the “fun stuff”.


I recently attended a Plein air workshop with a different twist. We went out and did small thumbnail drawings on location, made color notes, and made a small study. We didn’t focus on painting a larger, finished Plein air piece but just to gather as many notes as an hour would allow. We then took these notes back to the classroom and completed a two-hour studio painting. Wow—what an eye opener. The first effort, I quickly learned which of my notes were good and which areas I should’ve spent more time on. This exercise really drove home the benefits of doing my homework!


I have always seen the benefit of painting often. When I paint more often, technique seems to come easier. Even though I know this, I don’t always get to keep a regular painting schedule. Sometimes “life” gets in the way and gives me way too many excuses not to paint. So, it is with that in mind, I will be doing a painting a day for the month of February. I’ve done this a couple of times in the past along with a couple of friends from the Mid Missouri Fine Arts Society. In the past, we painted little 6” by 6” canvases and when the month was up, displayed them at a frame shop and gallery. This time, I’m not doing this as part of show or necessarily with a group of artists but more as a personal challenge to myself. This challenge is more to push myself to paint more often, especially during the regular work week—when I come up with those excuses mentioned above. I’m using this challenge to also give myself permission to have fun, loosen up, and do more “studies”. Maybe experiment with different colors or use colors in my paint box that were bought for a class and never used again. Maybe I will do some value studies or experiment with different backgrounds. I’ve decided not to limit myself to a “theme” but to leave it open and just paint whatever I feel for that day. I don’t have a plan other than paint and paint daily. So, check back and follow my progress. I will post a bit about the daily works as well as a link to my Daily Paintworks Gallery, where the paintings will be available, if interested. I hope you enjoy the progress. Let me know what you think!


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