Reflecting on Art Every Day Month #AEDM14

December 2nd, 2014

Well, Art Every Day Month 2014 is finally over. I want to take a few minutes to look back and assess how this month of making art every day went. I achieved some of my goals, discovered some new techniques, and had a lot of fun doing the challenge.

First of all, I want to take stock of the goals I set going into this and see how I did. Next, I want to look at what didn’t work well. Then, some takeaways and lessons that I learned throughout the process. Finally, I have an audio message at the end of this post where I sum up some thoughts about the whole experiment.

Achieving Goals

When I announced that I was going to do the Art Every Day Month challenge, I set some goals:
  1. I want to get better at painting.
  2. I want to build my body of work.
  3. Finally, I want to use this as a tool for building my email list.
I think I did pretty well for the first two goals. I feel like my painting got better, and I learned a lot in just a month. I built my body of work by creating 5 solid new pieces. My email list actually stayed pretty much the same. I lost some subscribers, but I gained as many as I lost. I need to find a way to grow that list!

What didn’t work

Maybe it’s not so much what didn’t work as what was an inconvenience. Blogging each day’s progress required a lot of work. It took as long as 3 hours from the moment I picked up my brush to the time I finished sharing on social media.

The process is something like this:

  1. set up paints, mix up colors just right before hitting record on the iPad, which also has to be set up just right
  2. paint for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time I have
  3. shoot photos for Instagram and the blog
  4. edit the video and the photos
  5. upload photos and video
  6. write the blog post, proofing and editing several times before publishing
  7. share to various social media outlets in the appropriate format
While it is fun, the administrative stuff around blogging it is time-consuming.

Takeaways and lessons learned

I painted 18 days. For a 30-day month that is just over half. Which doesn’t sound all that great, to be honest. That said, I was sick for about a week, and then the Thanksgiving holiday made me miss a day, but overall I feel good about the time I spent in the studio. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of momentum just from what I’ve done so far.

I had a few surprises. I embraced the acrylic paint medium when I normally use oil, mainly because I knew I wanted to work more quickly than usual since acrylic is fast-drying. But the real surprises for me were in the way I embraced abstraction. It’s funny because I have never painted from a purely abstract mode so exclusively. But a few years ago I found myself drawn to abstract painting and suspected I might at some point transition to painting that way myself. Well, here I am.

Be open to possibilities. The purplethengreen abstract I did was going to be something else entirely, but I felt like the canvas “wanted” to be what it became.

I realized that what I am imagining in my head may not be as great as what is possible. So I need to be open to that.

Along these lines comes a looser interpretation of what I see in a photograph and what gets put on canvas. Everything I painted this month was based on a photograph in some form, even the most abstract. But the paint took priority over everything else.

Know when to quit. I’m not sure I’m closer to knowing when this is, but I experienced that “woah, I just did too much” feeling a time or two. Then there are times you just have to step away for a day or two until your brain can solve the problem unconsciously.

Multimedia is fun. It was fun to create the videos and the accompanying audio. I think this is the future of content creation and I’ll definitely be doing more of it, time-consuming as it is. It’s worth it.

I need to find a better time-lapse solution. When I noticed that all my iPad time lapse videos were around 30 seconds, even if I painted for 30 minutes or an hour, it became clear that iOS “automagically” shortens time-lapse videos without asking you how long or fast you want it to be. So I will be looking for a better way to capture video so I can speed it up just the way I want. Know of any good options?

Brad Blackman AudioBlog!

Here’s a Voice Memo I recorded on my iPhone on the drive to my day job one morning toward the end of the month. I recount some of the same things I mentioned above but in a different way. Please forgive the car noises in the background.

What’s next?

I’ll probably continue to embrace abstraction as well as “fog” and allow the canvas to become what it wants. I’m also going to be experimenting more with video and audio.

What did you think?

I’d love your feedback on how the whole month-long experiment went. If you did it, too, how was it? What did you come away with?

Post-AEDM work in progress: creating fog

December 1st, 2014

While Art Every Day Month is over, I am still working on this little abstract I started toward the end. You’ll recall that I flooded it with colorful drips, almost in a rainbow configuration, and then added a dark mass in the bottom half.

Today I brought in some blue tones and muted the whole thing down. It’s much more quiet now, and it has a feeling of fog, which I think is important in the development of my work. Fog is such a strong metaphor for me especially as I am bringing up three small children and emerging from my mid-thirties. (I guess I’m on the downward slide to 40 now.)

Anyway, here’s today’s progress. Of course I made a video for you to watch. Once I get this piece finished I’ll stitch the videos all together so you can see each AEDM painting come to life from start to finish.

Can’t see the video? Then go here.
I wanted to work on this yesterday afternoon, but I wound up taking a nap on the couch with my four-year old son. That was clearly the better choice, even when he put his arm over my face.

Colorful drips! Day 29 of Art Every Day Month/AEDM14

November 29th, 2014

This morning I got some colorful drips on a new canvas. It is fun dripping paint all over canvas like this. It is harder than it looks since I want the color just right, and I want the drips to go a certain way sometimes. The trick is you have to work with gravity, not against it.

It is the next to the last day of the month, and thus the next to the last day of the Art Every Day Month challenge. I’m hoping to work on this again tomorrow and possibly later today, but we will see if time permits.

I’m going to let this dry and if I have time I’ll work on it more today. (I have a commission to start, the leaves need chopping, and the kids need time with their daddy.)

So, I’ll leave you with this time-lapse of today’s progress. (Also, I’m firmly convinced iOS makes every time-lapse video 30 seconds, whether if you record for 10 minutes or an hour.)

As always, if you can’t see the video, it is on YouTube.
Here’s a color-corrected, detailed shot. If you want to make a print of it as it is, knock yourself out! Just use the links below the image.

Thinking like a princess: sparkle! Day 27 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 27th, 2014

I got up super-early to get some work done on this, and it paid off. What you see in the video below is an hour’s worth of work. (Is it me, or does the time-lapse mode on the iPad mini compress every video to 30 seconds?)

Most of what I did today was tighten up the details. Overall, I gave the painting some sparkle, which sounds like something in one of the princess books my elementary-age daughter reads. I reintroduced the light blue-green color and cleaned up the line between the two orange areas in the bottom portion of the canvas. I brought back some drips which I think emphasize and embrace the nature of the paint.

I rotated the canvas a few times to check the composition. I added that green fleck at the top when I put the piece on its side and realized it needed something over there to balance it out. (Another trick I’ve heard is to look at it in the mirror.)

Without further ado, here’s today’s time-lapse video:

If you can’t see it, just point your browser to this page on YouTube.
So what do you think? Did this one work? Does it fall flat? I gotta tell you, abstract art was not something I ever planned on doing. But I think I like it. I’ve spent most of the past 17 years in front of a computer, and it feels good to work with something that gets my hands dirty. Embracing the paint and what the canvas wants to become has actually been pretty liberating, if a little scary.

Any suggestions for what I should name this one?

The struggle continues (Day 26 of #AEDM14)

November 26th, 2014

Well today the struggle with this abstract blue and orange piece continues. I have heard from some people that they really like this piece and I shouldn’t do anything else to it, but I have something else in mind for it but the feedback has been so positive on Facebook and Instagram that I doubt myself!

What about you, what do you think? Part of me really wants to tighten up the implied horizon in the lower quarter of the canvas and reintroduce that light blue-green color where the white meets the black.

When do you know when it is time to quit?

Of course, here is a video of today’s work. If you can’t see it, check it out on YouTube here.

Here’s a bigger version of the picture:

When your painting puts up a fight (#AEDM14 Day 25)

November 25th, 2014

My painting session this morning for day 25 of AEDM proved difficult as the painting put up a bit of a fight. It just didn’t really want to cooperate. (As if the painting can cooperate with me. Yet I think in a sense it does.) Maybe it’s all this darkness getting to me. It depresses me a little. Yet I think in the end there will be some glimmer of hope here. At least I hope there will!

(Can’t see the video? Go here to watch it on YouTube.)

An Ominous Mass (Day 24 of #ArtEveryDayMonth / #AEDM14)

November 24th, 2014

Wow, the month is drawing to a close. Day 24 of #ArtEveryDayMonth sees this bright blue and orange canvas turn rather dark and ominous. There’s a lot of blue going on here now. I am sure I’ll find a way to brighten it back up, but I think as with lots of things, it will get darker before it gets brighter.

(If you can’t see the video, go here.)

Day 24 of #arteverydaymonth. Added a big ominous mass. Blog post to come.

A post shared by Brad Blackman (@bradblackman) on

What do you think of this piece so far? I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s make things brighter (Day 23 of #ArtEveryDayMonth)

November 23rd, 2014

On day 23 of Art Every Day Month, I got up pretty early and got to work by 4:40 in the morning. I decided my little canvas had too much “mud” from the way the blue and orange ran together yesterday, so I turned it on its side and added more blue and orange to make them much brighter and drip “sideways” instead of “vertically.” I filled in the white area with yellow. Since the yellow is pretty translucent, I applied it with a palette knife to make it thicker and brighter.

I’m pretty excited about this one. I was excited about the last one, too, but it took on a life of its own. I kind of expect this one to do the same.

Here’s the video:

(Can’t see it? Go watch it on YouTube here.)

Time-lapse video: Finishing the green abstract for Day 20 of #AEDM14

November 20th, 2014

Day 20 of Art Every Day Month had me finishing up the small green abstract painting I’ve been working on the past few days.

I didn’t do anything on day 19 — I had other obligations and I was stuck on how to wrap this one up. It needed something in the foreground, something to break it up a little. Something light and atmospheric.

So I added little dots and splatters. It seems to have done the job!

(Can’t see the video? Go here.)
Here’s the finished piece. I haven’t decided on a name yet, but it is 12 x 12 inches, acrylic on canvas.

#AEDM14 Day 18: Underwater Haze

November 18th, 2014

Art Every Day Month I flipped this guy around and brought back the green, building it up into a haze. It feels like it is underwater now, doesn’t it? I kind of like it the way it is but I have plans for it.

What do you think? Should keep pushing it or does it looks fine the way it is?

Time-Lapse Video, of Course

And what would an AEDM post from me be without a time-lapse video? By the way, at the end of the month I plan on publishing full videos of the dailies all put together so you can see paintings evolve from start to finish.

Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/uqHvD0-m_M8

#AEDM14 Day 17: Evolution

November 17th, 2014

In today’s #AEDM14 challenge, we see things evolve a bit for this canvas. The green makes a comeback in a big way.

It’s been a lot of fun working in acrylic for a change. I thin the paint with a lot of water and let it drip everywhere. When you watch the time-lapse videos you really get the sense of the whole mass of paint sliding downward toward the bottom of the canvas. Look at the drips collecting at the bottom.

Gravity does some interesting things. I like embracing the drips and incorporating that into the overall design of the piece.

So here’s the video for today. Watch this canvas evolve into a green-and-gray composition. That line between the green and the black-ish color will become a horizon.

(If you’re reading this in your email and you can’t see the video, go here!)

#AEDM14 Day 16: the Purple Haze gets some more color

November 16th, 2014

Whew, what a day today. I didn’t get in the studio until after the kids went to bed. Remember yesterday’s purple haze? Well, now it’s got some more color. Some blue-green and red-orange.

It is kind of a muddy mess right now but keep an eye on it this week. It’s going to be interesting.

Can’t see the video because you’re looking at this in an email? Go here: http://youtu.be/2OaMemMYNik

#AEDM14 Day 15: Purple Haze

November 15th, 2014

Man, it felt so good to get in the studio today. I wrapped up a time-lapse video and shot some paintings that I’ve finished recently. They’ll be going in the portfolio section as soon as I get the images cleaned up and color-corrected. I’ll be adding them to my Etsy shop soon. More on that later.

But now, here’s today’s piece. I started a new canvas and toned it purple and red-orange. I have plans to turn it into something interesting soon. Watch this space!

Can’t see the video? Find it on YouTube.

#AEDM14 Day 14: Color!

November 14th, 2014

After being sick last week, it took me a while to get caught back up and find the time to get back in the studio.

The little abstract piece evolved. A lot.

I have to admit this is a bit out of the norm for me, a little scary, even, since it is so different from what I usually do.

But I really like where this is going. I feel like this is the direction I want my work to take in the future. This sort of hazy feel.

When I filmed it, I split it into two videos since in between I had to dig around for some colors and mix them up.

Part 1

Can’t see it? Click here or browse to http://youtu.be/gt239t9IXoc.

Part 2

Can’t see it? Click here or browse to http://youtu.be/24vE8yAeOHA.

#AEDM14 Day 10: Make it Gold

November 10th, 2014

So last week was rough. I was sick for five days with the Tennessee Crud, a catch-all term for the allergy/sinus thing lots of people tend to get this time of year. Four of the five of us in my family got it in some form or another. Only my daughter emerged unscathed.

I got to watch Frozen, oh, six times. I think that only counts the times I was actually awake for it, when I wasn’t sleeping off NyQuil or Mucinex or whatever.

Unfortunately I missed my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration.

But I was fortunate enough to wake up this morning feeling relatively okay and ready to dive back into this thing called Art Every Day Month.

I gave that little abstract canvas a coat of gold-tan acrylic. If you haven’t noticed by now I am gradually covering this thing with lots of thin, transparent layers of paint. I have something of an end in mind but it may surprise me.

Check out the video below, or click here if you can’t see it.

#AEDM14 Day 5: Small Abstract Painting

November 5th, 2014

I managed to get up at 4:30 despite another sinus headache and got a little more done on my small abstract piece.

Today we have pink!

#AEDM14 Day 4: Small Abstract Painting

November 4th, 2014

I have found that if I’m going to do art on a particular day, I have to do it first thing in the morning. Get it done before all my other obligations take priority.

But on Day 2, I woke up with a fever.

I knew when I went to bed the night before I wasn’t feeling to hot, but it turned out to be bad sinus congestion that had me in bed all day. If I rewind a bit, I realize that on Halloween I got chilled while walking to the train to head home. That wind was bitter!

While I could’ve done a sketch or something in bed on Day 2, I never did it. I felt too bad and all my creative energy was drained.

On Day 3, thankfully I was fever-free, but I didn’t get up early enough.

I did mess around with an iPad photo using the Mextures app, but since one of my goals of this challenge is to develop my painting skills I didn’t feel like it was worth “entering” for the challenge. It would be different if getting better at mobile photo editing was what I wanted to focus on, but it isn’t.

But today I was up at 4:09 and I got started on a new painting.

At 8 x 10 inches it’s a small one for me, since I prefer to work three or four times this size. However, I this sort of challenge is perfect for trying out new ideas or techniques before taking them to larger scales. Sometimes these small explorations turn out better than the big pieces since there is so much spontaneity.

So I started a small abstract. I dripped pale green acrylic paint, mixing in more green or more blue in some places, and just letting it run down from either side, flipping it around as needed. It’s not much, but it was fun to get in the studio at least for a few minutes.

(Can’t see the timelapse video? Click here to view it on YouTube, or enter this in your browser: http://youtu.be/ZeVHeAKbRos)
But before I could get any painting done, I had to get the space heater hooked up. I didn’t want to get sick again!

AEDM14 Day 1: Finishing a sunrise painting (video)

November 1st, 2014

For the first day of Art Every Day Month 2014, I finished up a painting that I’ve been working on for the past few weeks.

Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on YouTube!

The best part of the day was when my almost six-year-old daughter joined me in the studio after her little brothers went to bed. She was so excited and she produced two 8 x 10 inch paintings. I think she is hooked!

When she was two I did a video where I talked about my studio area, and she obviously stole the show. She is definitely an artist in training, that one!

Invitation: Join Me in Art Every Day Month 2014

October 21st, 2014

Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. (I’m Not sure why it is national since it is on the internet, but who cares, right?)

The idea behind Nanowrimo is you write a 50,000-word novel in a month.

50,000 words is not too long, but it is enough to account for something. It’s a novella, basically.

And why November? I don’t know. I guess you have to start somewhere.

I always thought it was a neat idea, but I’m not a fiction writer.

Sure, I blog, and I would like to write a book at some point, but writing fiction is just not for me. So I dismissed the Nanowrimo idea. I mean, I’m proud of my friends who do it, but writing a novel is just not my thing.

But about five years ago, it came back up again in my mind, and I thought, “hey what if I take that same Nanowrimo idea and apply it to making something visual?” I figured I would make something every day for a month, and I called it “30-in-30” for 30 pieces of art created in 30 days.

So I made something every day for a month, almost every day, mostly photographs taken with my somewhat new DSLR or a really awful little camera phone. I only did one painting.

The experiment turned out okay. But I think what I should have done was have a tighter focus on the whole endeavour. I should have spent more time painting. I think I was afraid of it for some reason. I didn’t really have the space at the time, either, since we were living with my parents.

The real problem was I cheated.

What I did was I would go out on my lunch break and take photos. Some days I would get a lot of good photos I could be proud of, say, 4 or 5 in one session, and call it a day.

I said to myself, “All right! I have four days’ worth!”

So of course, I wouldn’t do anything for the next seven days. I didn’t reap the benefit of the exercise.

It’s like with physical exercise: you can’t do four day’s worth of, say, running, and then not run for four days.

For one thing, you’ll injure yourself.

Secondly you don’t get the benefit of doing the work. You get better at something by doing it regularly and continually, not a whole lot at once. (Tweet that.)

A commitment for November 2014

Art Every Day Month by Leah Kolidas. I knew I wasn’t the only one to think of this sort of thing, so I was excited to find an already existing community around this idea.

So this year, I am going to commit to Art Every Day Month 2014.

But now I know if I want my AEDM14 experiment to be a success, I have to have a couple of goals so I can see some kind of change once the month is over. Unless I have measurable objectives, I’ll flounder and get bored and frustrated like I did before.

Goals for AEDM 2014:

  1. I want to get better at painting. I feel like my “painting muscles” have atrophied. I’m just out of practice.
  2. I want to build my body of work. I feel like because I have not done much work the past few years I have not lived up to what I am probably capable of. I have not progressed to where I think I should have by now. I don’t think I’ve produced the amount of work I think I should have produced by this point in my life. (Granted, I’ve been doing some other very important work: raising three small children.)
  3. Finally, I want to use this as a tool for building my email list. This is probably the most important thing from a marketing perspective. It’ll be a great way to build my tribe and extend my reach.

So for a month, people who subscribe to my email list or RSS Feed will have something fun to look at every morning. I hope it is something they’ll enjoy. I know I’ll enjoy it, too.

What I won’t do

As interesting as the small daily painting format is, it is not for me. It’ll only lead me to burnout. This is because I like to paint big.

I want you to join me!

I think it’ll be a very rewarding way to spend my time, and I want to invite you to do the same. I know I will have to work hard at getting up early every morning and getting in the studio to knock something out before I head in to my day job, but I imagine plenty of you out there will do the same. After all, our writer friends will be working on their novels before the sun comes up, too!

Or if you’d just rather see what I make that’s fine, too.

Will you join me? C’mon! You know you want to.