4 Tips for Success During Art Every Day Month 2015

Our writer friends are about to start NaNoWriMo (pronounced “nah-noh-rye-mo”) in a few days. The idea of National Writing Month is pretty cool: you write a 50,000-word novella in a month.

It’s a neat concept. If you break it down into doable chunks of about 1,666 words a day, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. (For perspective, this post is right around 950 words.) Joe Bunting has a really cool blog post about how to not fail at it.

Again, I love the idea, but I’m not a writer.

So I do Art Every Day Month instead.

I’ve done Art Every Day Month before several times, but last year was the first time I felt that it was at all successful because I had a specific focus: making abstract paintings with acrylic paint. I had a couple of breakthroughs in embracing abstraction and the chance nature of the acrylic paint.

This time, I’m going to stick with abstract paintings in acrylic. But here’s the twist: I’m going to use British rock as inspiration for the compositions.

Last year my inspiration was iPhone photography abstracted on canvas. This time, I’m letting British music inspire me. Everything from The Beatles to Britpop.

(Aside: Don’t ask me what’s happened in British rock since the 90s. I think Coldplay is British but they seem to me more a “band that happens to be from Britain.”)

So that’s what I’m doing for AEDM15: abstract paintings inspired by British rock. (Or I might change my mind and do all Star Wars related stuff. Who knows.)

While I’d love to complete a painting every day, I’m allowing myself to complete what I can due to client work and family responsibilities. To do otherwise might burn me out.

It’s easy to burn out and get overwhelmed when tackling any month-long project that is outside your norm. You need a plan. (Tweet that.)

How do you keep from getting burned out and hating yourself at the end of the month? Read on, my friend.

Let’s take a page from Joe Bunting at The Write Practice. Remember his post I mentioned earlier, about how to not fail at NaNoWriMo? Well, we’re going to apply some of the same principles to AEDM.

4 Tips to Keep from Burning Out During Art Every Day Month:

1. Have a plan.

Take an hour or two this week to sketch out a dozen overall concepts. They don’t have to be finished and polished. They can be rough thumbnails that you can develop and refine later. The point is to make as much art as you can, not to be perfect. (Tweet that.)

Having even a general vision ahead of time will reduce the stress of creating something. Also, constraints can do a lot to inspire creativity. It helps to have a theme. That’s why I’m focusing on interpreting British rock songs as abstract paintings.

I’ve already drafted a list of British bands/musicians that I’m inspired by, and this week I am writing out a dozen or so songs that I want to paint something for. Then I’ll sketch some thumbnails.

2. Stick to a schedule.

I recommend getting up an hour or two earlier than you normally would and get your studio time in before the day makes demands of your time. The phone doesn’t ring at 5 a.m. unless it’s an emergency.

I’m naturally a night owl, but I don’t do my best work late at night. I slow down and might as well be drunk. (Tiredness and drunkenness are practically the same thing.) While it is fun to stay up late I don’t prefer it or recommend it for doing creative work. Early morning is a good time to do good creative work.

Also, don’t have big gaps of days without doing any work. Joe Bunting advises NaNo participants to not have more than 2 skipped days in a row. The first time I did AEDM I was very unfocused and tried to “gang up” my efforts where I did several days’ worth of “work” on my lunch break and then did nothing for two weeks. It was a flop.

3. Go to bed on time.

This is the corollary to sticking to a schedule. If you are getting up early to do your art, you have to go to bed on time. Even if you are doing your work in the middle of the day, being well-rested means you are more efficient at your work.

For me this means no staying up until 1 in the morning watching X-Files on Netflix. This habit started about 10 or 11 years ago when I first had my own place all to myself — no roommate, no parents — I would stay up watching 80s reruns on Nick-at-Night or whatever was on Sci-Fi Channel.

So on October 31, I am deleting the Netflix app off my iPad mini and not reinstalling it until December 1. I may even have my wife change the password to something I can’t guess.

4. Postpone judgement — silence the inner critic

It’s all about quantity and producing as much as you can without paying attention to how “good” it is.

That said, I’m not shooting for a piece a day. I’ve tried that before and it burned me out and I unintentionally went on an 18-month hiatus from making art of any kind.) If what I make is good, great. If not, I just move on and make something else.

The point of #aedm15 is to create every day. If I’ve made art today, it’s been a good day. (Tweet that.)


So if you want to create something new every day for the month, just use the #AEDM15 hashtag on social media. I’ll be on the lookout for you.I’ve already drafted a list of British bands/musicians that I’m inspired by, as well as a dozen or so songs that I want to paint something for. Then I’ll sketch some thumbnails. What’s your next step?