Things I Learned as an Oil Painter: Thing #6

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maccski's avatar
Following on from my last post where I mentioned the "thing" that "dramatically improved my painting style" is thing #6:

Paint 50 small paintings in 90 days (or less).

And, oh yes, don't forget to push your boundaries as you progress. That's the challenge that was laid down to me by a local (and hugely successful) professional artist.

I actually did 50 8"x10"s in 95 days, but I still think I did pretty well. The idea is that you don't invest too much time in each piece, but you still have to make all the big decisions you would make for a regular sized painting: composition, values, palette, etc. Over time you get less precious about certain aspects of the process and you start to focus in on what really counts. You also get to notch up a reasonable number of screw-ups that help teach you what doesn't work without wasting too much time, effort and energy. You start to get creative with what you paint, because every day or two you have to come up with a new idea.  As you go you take some time to self-critique the pieces.  This highlights your strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to move on to the next piece better equipped.

By the end of the journey you have a great record of your challenge and an eclectic body of work to be proud of. Here's a selection of my 50 studies:…

It's also a lot of fun.

So much fun, in fact, that I took it a step further: 50 5"x7"s, each taking 45 minutes or less, all with the same limited palette of 4 colours and white. This time I did it in 77 days. Here are some examples:…

This "thing" is what started me on the road to getting serious about my art. It turned a hobby into an obsession. It made me a bolder, better painter. If you feel you need to "make a leap", do this "thing". I'll be doing it again very soon.

Thing #1:…
Thing #2:…
Thing #3:…
Thing #4:…
Thing #5:…

Why am I posting this stuff?…

Take a look at my Facebook page...if you like it, please "Like" it!…

This leads nicely to thing #7...
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Ristia's avatar
I'm surprised that some of my favorite pieces are in that selection! What kind of canvases were these on, anyways? I imagine if you were intending on doing 50 of them in a short period of time, you got cheapies, yes?

Seriously considering this challenge. I'm starting work on my BFA in Painting in the fall, and I think I need to seriously work on my skills before I get there!
maccski's avatar
Yes, everything's done super cheap. I found that I enjoyed painting on pieces of masonite. It's a great challenge to take on - all you need is to set aside a slot in your routine. You could maybe paint your breakfast every day!
Ristia's avatar
This is actually a really awesome idea. I proposed it to a few of my artist friends, and it's eventually turned into a Facebook event with 50+ people interesting in participating (:
maccski's avatar
That's excellent - I'd really like to hear how it turned out!
TomOliverArt's avatar
I like this advice. This is how I have learned also, by moving on continually.
21stCenturyDamocles's avatar
LauraHolArt's avatar
That is a superb idea! Not sure my 50 paintings would turn out quite so well as yours!! :hug:
maccski's avatar
Notice how I didn't post 50 paintings? There were quite a few that didn't turn out quite as I had hoped!
citypainter's avatar
Great advice, also known as: "practice makes perfect!" Thanks for sharing this.
maccski's avatar
"Perfect" is an elusive beast...
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