Monday, October 29, 2012

a good idea

I'm painting over an old painting that was painted plein air at Kubota Garden. For this new painting, I'm using a reference photo taken that day of another scene.

Yesterday I received a nice email from an artist asking how I stay focused and motivated to paint everyday when sometimes it is hard to even get started. It prompted the following response from me. I thought of this good idea (doesn't everyone love their own advice?) and I like it so much, I decided to post it here.

I can see that you are taking your painting seriously - something I can relate to but also something that may hold us back. Before pastel, I worked many years exclusively in colored pencil. I gained some recognition in that medium (Colored Pencil Solution Book, etc.) and when I moved on to pastel it was very important to me to "succeed." In hindsight, I know I could have benefited from not taking myself so seriously and instead, try harder to play instead of work at my art.

I suggest you cut five 8x10 inch  pieces of Wallis paper, label them Monday through Friday. Work on each day's painting for no more than an hour that day and by the end of the week, you'll have five paintings in progress. By the third week, you'll have 3 hours (or less) into each painting and you'll decide whether to continue on that painting or wash it off (yes, let go of those precious areas you are loving if you can't make the whole work) and begin again.

1. Work only Monday on Monday's painting and so on. During the week hang the paintings on the wall and ponder them…make notes but don't actually work on the painting until that painting's day comes around. OR, put the paintings away and don't look at them until their assigned day arrives. For some, pondering and making notes works best, for others, the surprise of seeing the painting with "fresh eyes" works better.

2. Paint an hour every day! This is so important to increasing skill and confidence. Look at it this way: review your paintings of 5 years ago  - see how far you've come in 5 years? Did you paint EVERY day of those 5 years? How many hours did you actually paint in the 5 years? If you painted an hour a day, that would be 1,825 hours of practice. If you painted only an hour a week during the five years, it would take you 35 years to acquire the same skills and insight. Life is short, paint every day!

3. Give yourself permission to fail. This is hard for me! The best I can do at this task is a review of my paintings each year end and at that time, admit to myself that some of them are mediocre and destined for rework. Then, rework them during the coming year.


  1. Barbara estoy de acuerdo contigo.
    El esfuerzo y la auto crítica son dos buenos

  2. I noticed on the last piece you reworked you stated that it was on paper coated with gesso(ochre colored). Do you do that because you use oil as an underpainting? Does that affect how the pastel adheres? I am just getting back into pastel and when I did it before I just used pastel. No underpainting.