How painting everyday DRASTICALLY improves skills
Yes I know, we've all heard it many times before: paint every day, practice makes perfect, yada yada. I know, when you first hear that you might be like UGH I already have NO time as it is. But painting every day ISN'T about making good art everyday, no. Painting every day is about improving your relationship to your art and creativity. It's about allowing yourself to make bad art and not worry about it because, hey, there's always tomorrow!
I don't know about you, but any time in the past when I've been too busy running my shop, working on freelance work, packing order, and I let my painting time slide out the door it's like I forget how to do it altogether! I'm a true believer that your creativity is like a muscle, and consistency is key.
There are SO many components to painting, if you think about it, it's pretty impressive that our sapien brains are able to grasp it all. There's image, colour, detail, value, space, composition, technique, even the way you hold your brush is incredibly important to the outcome of your painting. If you let a few weeks slide by without painting and then come back to your easel and stare at is as if it's a foreign object well, I think I know why.
I've been reading the book Daily Painting by Carole Marine and in this book she also talks about the benefits of painting small over large. A few reasons include: takes up less space, less time, less supplies, less brain power. When you paint small you don't necessarily have to include as many details as a larger painting, or you may be unable to which actually is a great practice in its own (to loosen up), but I would say do what feels right. Painting small might be restrictive to some, especially abstract artists who rely on large surfaces. The important concept here is painting everyday or at least, as much as you can.
Aside from taking intentional breaks, I've been painting every weekday for quite some time now, and here are a few of my takeaways:
You improve your skills FAST. When you paint every day, you learn little things, like how to better hold your brush, or how mixing a certain colour combination gave you the PERFECT tint. These are little things you can forget if you don't show up to your easel again the next day. I recommend also keeping a journal and reflecting on the little things you learn each painting session. You can review these notes once in awhile incase there's anything you forget, but in general, it's much easier to apply your learnings the next day rather than the next week, where it's almost like starting fresh again. Take a look at these trees below, which were literally painted a day apart, but I took what I learned from the day before (left) and applied it to my next painting the next day (right).
You can paint a wide range of subjects and explore. As artists, we are curious beings. We like to dabble in all kinds of things. Why settle for one? I know platforms like instagram can make you feel like you have to do one thing all the time over and over again but in reality, why not paint whatever inspires you? Today it might be a tomato lying on the counter. Tomorrow it might be your dog's friendly smile. If you paint on the daily, you have more than enough time to explore all of these topics. Rather than spending weeks on one painting, you hone in on your skills, get it done in a day (or two or three depending on your style), and then you can move on to your next idea.
Selling may be easier. Hear me out here, I know you might be able to sell a big painting for thousands, but imagine spending weeks or months on a big painting and then it doesn't sell? Heartbreaking. I think in today's economy people are more likely to buy smaller, meaningful paintings rather than large ones. Of course, there will always be a market for both. My point here is more that when you are painting daily, you may not be as attached to a painting, and therefor you won't get bogged down if it doesn't sell. You'll be too busy working on your next one. And this is a very important factor to being a full-time artist, you can't get disappointed every time a painting doesn't sell. This is just part of the process: make things, put it out there, repeat.
So whether or not you choose to paint daily, or just more often, will be entirely up to you and what feels best for you. In short, daily painting has helped me loosen up, be more creative and less worried about what will/won't sell (which makes better art in my opinion). Try it! You'll find a process that works for you over time :)