Sunday, January 2, 2022

Daily art -- a new challenge for 2022

 Faithful readers know that I have been doing daily art for 20 years, revising my rules every January 1.  After three years of doing calligraphy, I feel overdue for something new, so I decided to leap into the deep end of the pool with something I'm terrified of -- paint.  I'm even having a hard time describing it as "painting" rather than just "paint," much as a long time ago I had to ease into calling myself an "artist," instead first saying "I make art."

Three years of daily calligraphy

This is not a new situation for me.  In 2013 I forced myself to learn to make collage by way of daily art (and did it for three years).  I came to love it, incorporate many aspects and techniques into my "serious art," and would happily do it again as a daily practice.  In 2016 I forced myself to overcome my dread of drawing, even joining a life-drawing group and enrolling in a beginning college art class, where I got an A+.  I learned to make better realistic renditions than I did at the start of the year, but I couldn't force myself to stick with realism.  I quit the drawing group and by the end of the year was filling my sketchbooks with maps, repetitive patterns, doodles and increasingly abstract line work.

So with one success and one failure in my past, I'm trying again.  I've always avoided anything that you could describe as "painting," although I have used plenty of paint in the last decade.  Why the terror, considering that I love to have paintings by other people all around me?  I can think of several possible reasons.

For one, I've always rankled at the concept that painting is "real art," whereas fiber is some kind of second-tier impostor medium that is only grudgingly allowed into museums and galleries.  So if that's the way they feel about it, to hell with painting, I'll do anything but.  A childish opinion, which doesn't even hold up very well under cross-examination, but there it is.

For another, I have never felt comfortable using a brush to lay down color.  In three years of calligraphy I've tried many different writing implements, falling in love with many of them.  But brushes are not in that group.  Every time I try to write with a brush I think the result looks awkward and weak.  So unless I conduct my paint career exclusively with palette knives (not that there's anything wrong with that) I have a big hurdle to overcome.

Just doesn't look that good to me....

Most important, I've always relished the freedom that fiber art, especially quilting, offers in terms of  design.  You make a little motif or sewed-together area and put it up on the design wall, and then add some more areas.  And eventually you can rearrange them till you get a pleasing composition.  If you think this red part should be closer to the bottom edge, cut off the extra stuff.  If you think it should be closer to the center, make some more piecing and add it onto the side.  If you think the two red bits should be farther apart, add something else in between.  By contrast, when you paint, you need a sound preliminary idea of where your elements are going to fall on the canvas before you start putting red things down.

This is how I like to work!!
I have developed a pretty good sense of composition over the years but I almost always do it on the design wall, moving things around and auditioning and trying this and trying that before deciding on the final result.  I'm afraid that if I can't rearrange I will either end up with crappy compositions or be forced to (gasp! horrors!) make advance sketches.  And advance planning is NOT the way I like to work!  I like to think by doing.  But I have no idea how that's going to work with painting.

I've done one painting so far.  I am using an interesting technique to make myself overcome terror and paralysis, which I'll tell you about soon.  

Meanwhile, you can check out all my daily art on my daily art blog.


  1. I felt the same way about painting, but I did buy some paints and started using them on paper - mostly index cards and scrap books. I haven't been brave enough to try on canvas though.

  2. I can add something else to the list of reasons to avoid painting. I abhor waste of any kind and to see those w/c painters load up a brush with paint, dab a little off on the paper and then dunk the brush into a jar of water before loading up another color, all I can think of is ALL THAT WASTED PIGMENT! Similar with acrylic paint where you have to put a blob out and probably won't use it all up and end up tossing it. Add to this waste not want not mentality of mine the fact that if I were to be honest, I really don't like working with things that are messy and paints can get messy!

    I've followed along with 3 year's worth of Sketchbook Revival videos, many of them geared to painting with w/c or acrylics and that helped me learn a lot, following the teacher and the teacher's design and coming out with much better copies than I would have expected. I know if I want to become better and paint my own designs I really do need to practice, i.e. get the brush and paints out and just go for it in a sketchbook. I even bought several books to get me going but there's still that barrier keeping me from letting go and letting loose. Perhaps your efforts will inspire some efforts of my own in this new year.

  3. You know that you inspired me last year to do art every day with my little embroidered squares. I didn't manage to finish a square every day, but I did stitch every day (well, almost). I look forward to seeing what you do with paint. I will have to check your other blog since you are not posting as much on this blog. I still can't get used to Instagram, where I know you are posting daily.
    Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Norma -- I have been so interested in your circles -- you have kept up with that project so well! Are you doing something kinda-daily this year too?