Looking Back at #ArtEveryDayMonth2015: 3 Things I Learned

January 26th, 2016

In case you missed it, I participated in Art Every Day Month 2015.

AEDM is a fun way to challenge yourself to make some art every day for a month. Doing it online builds in accountability. It keeps you motivated, and you see what other people are doing, so you know you aren’t doing it alone. That makes it more fun. You get better at doing art just from the practice.

And focusing my efforts in such a way that I wanted to achieve very specific things allowed me to actually accomplish something. So I set 3 goals. I also learned 3 things.

3 Goals I had for AEDM15:

1. Stay focused on a theme: abstracts inspired by British rock songs Sometimes limitations are an artist’s best friend. I love British rock, and there are a few songs I have wanted to translate to paint for some time. There are a few I didn’t get to. Maybe I will later.

2. Don’t try to paint a new piece every day. Do try to paint daily. It’s just like Like Jerry Seinfeld’s “break the chain” idea. But this isn’t always practical. That said, I did my best to avoid missing two consecutive days. Sometimes that meant I spent only five or ten minutes gessoing or toning a canvas. That was enough for me. Slow progress is still progress. Tweet that.

3. Experiment with painting live on Blab.im. Blab is a new-ish site that allows live video conversations that anyone can join or watch. It’s like Google Hangout without the complexity. It shows you in a Brady-bunch like setup. It created some interesting challenges. More on this in a minute.

3 Things I Learned:

1. I still love doing abstracts. It’s fun to hear what people see in them. Everyone sees something different.

2. British rock is rather dark. Even the “cheerful” stuff. Maybe it’s the stuff I’m drawn to. Or maybe this is characteristic of all rock-and-roll. After all, most rock concerts are held at night, in dark rooms. In my mind, music is almost always performed in the dark, with a piercing spotlight on the musician. Colors emanating from darkness.

3. Painting live online is the same thing as doing a live demo in front of an audience. I have to be able to complete something quickly and talk while painting. I need to work on my lighting and sound for painting live on the Internet

What’s Next?

1. I’m ready to paint something bright. The darkness is so bleak. I want some bright colors and light and hope in my art. There’s a place for the darkness, but I don’t want to live there.

2. I want to experiment with different surfaces. I’m thinking about trying wood and masonite.

3. I need to invest in some sort of simple video setup for doing better painting videos. I also need to come up with some demonstration ideas, things I can whip out in 30 minutes. I’ll probably be studying a lot of Bob Ross videos and other painters who are great at doing demonstrations.

Finally, next year I will probably refrain from blogging about it every day, but stick to just using the hashtag and posting to social media, with a blog post summing up the week or each finished piece. Blogging daily is a lot of work, especially when it is as image-heavy as this.

Did You Participate?

Did you participate in AEDM15 back in November? Or at least follow it online? I hope you did. If you didn’t, I hope you take on a similar challenge at some point. We’ll all be here to cheer you on.

Has He Thoughts Within His Head? Days 27-30 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

January 19th, 2016

On days 27-30 of #ArtEveryDayMonth, to finish out the British-rock theme I created this piece inspired by Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Iron Man.”

I must confess I never heard the Ozzy version until now. I heard the version by The Cardigans around the same time I was listening to Oasis, which would have been the mid-to-late 90s. Both versions are awesome.

It’s a great tune that makes you wonder about vengeance and who has a right to it.

Since iron is usually black but rusts to a reddish-orange color, those were the primary colors I used, with various blues for contrast. The overall image is nonobjective, but you can almost make out a landscape or even a face. My goal was to translate the song “Iron Man” into a visual.

I think I’ve done that.

Video below. (And no, it doesn’t have the actual song because of copyright stuff, even though it is a tribute.)

After all these dark paintings this month, I’m ready to do something bright now.

Pilot of the Storm Who Leaves No Trace: Days 15-24 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

January 12th, 2016

This is by far the toughest painting I’ve worked on during Art Every Day Month 2015. I really struggled with the smooth and textured areas of the canvas. Part of the struggle was with the extreme verticality of the canvas, but I really wanted to capture the drama and ominousness of the song “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin.

Lessons learned while painting this:

  • “Kashmir” is really, really ominous when you listen to it on repeat.
  • Don’t be afraid of texture. Embrace it. But know when to paint smooth and when to reintroduce texture that you painted out.
  • I’m tired of brown and blue. Why did I get back into that pattern again after doing it for years and getting tired of it before? Old habits die hard.

Aside: Was I subconsciously influenced by Adam Hall‘s ominous paintings of scary weather? Man, he and I have got to meet for coffee one of these days. Why not, since we are both in Nashville.

Planet Earth is Blue: Days 11-14 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 30th, 2015

The middle of November got pretty busy, and I ran out of time to blog each day. So I’m putting up a summary of what happened for days 11 through 14.

In keeping with the British rock theme, I went with David Bowie’s 1969 hit “Space Oddity.”It’s about an astronaut who gets stranded in space. It was reissued in 1972 with a heavier sound. I prefer the earlier version, which feels more panicked at the end, where Ground Control is unable to reach Major Tom.

Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.

I created this based on the line, “Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.”

It’s a simple lyric and a simple visual. Major Tom is looking down at Earth, seemingly resigned to his fate. It’s beautiful and scary.

Video Time-Lapse

I started out by dripping pink and orange to contrast with the blue and green I knew would be dominant.

Then I covered it with blue-purple to set the stage for the black skies of outer space.

Next I created the dark sky, the aurora above the Earth, and splattered in the stars.

I got the last part of this on Blab that you can watch if you have some time to kill.

Let’s Wrap It Up [Day 10 of #ArtEveryDayMonth]

November 10th, 2015

Today I made some subtle changes to this canvas. I lightened up some of the drips to make them stand out from the background, and lightened and smoothed other areas overall.

Since there is real texture from the sand-like medium beneath the gesso, I didn’t add the usual splatters. It has plenty of texture and depth on its own.

That wraps this one up.

Are We There Yet? [Day 9 of #ArtEveryDayMonth]

November 9th, 2015

Today I learned a tough lesson in paying your web hosting bill on time. I got my painting all prepared and went to upload it to this very blog.

And it wouldn’t load.

PANIC!

Okay, breathe.

Go find that invoice and pay it.

Now update your email list with a picture of the painting so it still gets out there.

Whew. Now the site loads.

Okay, then! Done and done!

So that’s that. The painting is moving along. I had technical difficulties with the audio while doing the Blab broadcast this morning, but for the most part I think it went well.

I made progress lightening and warming up the foreground of the painting. Got some neat drips going on now.

I’m still a little concerned about the composition. Is it working? You tell me.

I feel like there is a good balance between the warm and cool areas, the areas advancing and receding, and a nice contrast between sharp and fuzzy edges plus a good overlap to tie the close and far-away areas.

Abstract painting still references reality in a lot of ways. This piece very much feels like a surreal landscape.

Being Stopped Up Won’t Stop Me – Day 8 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 8th, 2015

I’m still under the weather, but I’m not letting that stop me. I tuned in to CrossPoint.tv for this morning’s worship service while my wife and kids were there, but I was so stopped up I could barely hear Pastor Pete Wilson speaking even with my bluetooth headset while I painted. Here’s hoping I am cleared up tomorrow. I feel mostly OK now but I can’t hear much.

As far as the painting is concerned, I lightened it up a bit more and cooled down the color some. I think tomorrow I’ll continue the lightening effect but might bring back some of the warm colors. I think the color is working, but how about the composition? Is it cohesive? Is it disjointed?

Lighten Up – Day 7 of #AEDM15

November 7th, 2015

Day 7 of Art Every Day Month: I spent most of the day in bed but I took a few minutes to paint. I started feeling well enough to paint while my wife and kids went to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Go figure. I lightened up the “dirty” canvas a bit. Now it’s time for me to crawl back in the bed and eat some chicken noodle soup and recover from the Fall (Autumn for everyone outside the U.S.) Sinus Crud.

And of course a Hyperlapse:

Oh, and I stole a few minutes on Blab to talk about how I mixed up those grays:

Dirty – Day 6 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 6th, 2015

Day 6 of Art Every Day Month has me laying the groundwork for something a bit different. It’s made up of warm and cool grays, blacks, and browns. The palette is really dirty. Like most of my paintings, it is starting out a big mess but I have at least a vague vision for what it’s going to become. And that is enough for me.

When it’s finished I’ll reveal which British rock song it’s based on. It might be somewhat obscure to some since I don’t think it was ever a single but it was on a pretty major album in the late 90s. That’s your first clue.

I’m building up a lot of depth with warm and cool tones, bringing the warm tones to the front and pushing the cool tones to the back, but eventually it will probably flatten out quite a bit.

A Luminous Abstract Painting – Day 5 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 5th, 2015

Day 5 of Art Every Day Month started with a bang. It felt really good to wrap up this painting I started on Sunday.

After last night’s detox bath and early bedtime I woke up feeling great. Got some coffee going and got in the studio around 5:10. I left my hearing aids out and set Blab on mute since I didn’t want to wake anyone with my talking.

First, I mixed up lighter versions of the colors I put down yesterday. The idea was to increase the light areas to give it contrast and depth. Putting light paint over dark areas makes the light even more luminous. (Tweet that.)

Then I mixed up more of the dark and light blues and the dark and light greens as well as a little bit of the orange, and made it all runny so I could splatter it on to give it that little bit of detail. It took some trial and error and wiping and experimenting with different brushes to get the right effect.

My painting professor in college told me that complexity adds interest. It’s not detail for the sake of detail. But that little bit of complexity in the splatters and the light spots makes it interesting.

That detail rewards a closer look.

Forecast: Foggy – Day 4 of #ArtEveryDayMonth

November 4th, 2015

Things got a bit hazy in the studio this morning.

got started about 5 a.m. and wrapped up about 6. I started out by brushing out the drips in the top of the canvas, and it started getting really smooth all over. It’s like a whole different painting now.

The land masses above the water line feel like they are enshrouded by fog, and the water has rays of light coming down. The orange masses are still there, primarily as a compositional and color element.

I can’t tell you what the orange things are but I dig them. If you take them away, the entire piece falls flat. They seem to be whatever is underneath the water, like these are floating islands that light up beneath the waves.

I’m pretty happy with it. Basically, everything got smooth today. Tomorrow I plan on bringing back the depth and texture that I love about this piece.

I have a feeling that will wrap it up.

See you tomorrow!

AEDM15 Day3: Whoah!

November 3rd, 2015

Not to get all Neo on you, but whoah.

The red and purple canvas made quite a few changes when I started adding the sky of blue and sea of green. Plus some orange forms. No sign of a yellow submarine yet.

Maybe we’re looking out of the yellow submarine?

I worked in two different sessions today. One at 5:30 before everyone got up and then again around 9 or 10 when everyone went to school. Today was a lot of fun!

I captured three different videos:

I recorded an hour-long Blab session, too. Had a fun conversation with someone about painting!

Day 2 of #ArtEveryDayMonth (#AEDM15)

November 2nd, 2015

This morning I was up early again and in the studio by 5:30. I didn’t spend much time actually painting since the whole canvas got pretty wet pretty fast.

Sometimes you have to paint a little, let it dry, and come back much later.

It’s acrylic paint so it was dry pretty soon after I did this, but since I had other things to do I was done for the day. I’m happy to leave it as it is for now but I’m anxious to get to the next stage!

Here’s the hyperlapse on YouTube:

How to Start #ArtEveryDayMonth: Kill the Canvas

November 1st, 2015

Here goes Day 1 of Art Every Day Month 2015!

I started off by “killing the canvas” — a trick I learned some years ago when I read Paul McCartney: Paintings. The idea is to just put down paint on the canvas without giving it too much thought so that you’re not intimidated by the blank canvas.

Since I haven’t painted in a couple of months (I’ve been hustling on freelance work lately) I was in fact a little intimidated.

Also, I was in front of the camera since I broadcast it live on Blab so I felt like I needed to talk the whole time. Which was weird since I usually paint in silence. But after about half an hour I made some progress that I feel good about. I think a few visitors showed up by accident. It seemed most were from overseas, probably due to how early it was here in the States. (6:30 a.m. Central time.)

Watch it on Blab: Day 1 of #ArtEveryDayMonth #AEDM15

I said this year’s AEDM theme for me would be British rock songs. So I’m starting off with “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles.

Yes, I’ve done a submarine-inspired piece before with my son, but this will be more Beatles-esque. Maybe. I do plan on giving it a “sea of green” in a day or two. Let’s see how this builds up.

Of course I captured a Hyperlapse of the painting session:

If you’re an artist and you want to do a live Blab with me while you’re in the studio, too, you are welcome to join me. Shoot me an email and we can coordinate a time to Blab together.

Is there something you’d like to see me paint? Maybe a British song lyric I should interpret on canvas? Just let me know. Leave a comment and let’s talk.

Falling Back into Art Every Day Month

October 30th, 2015

Here we go! It’s time to set those clocks back an hour if you live in North America. I’m not sure when the rest of the world does it, and I’m not sure why DST is a thing anymore.

It’s 2 in the afternoon on Friday, and DST doesn’t officially end until early Sunday morning November 1, but I went ahead and set the clocks back because I have little ones who will be really confused by the time change. Better ease them into it.

And in the meantime, I’m going to get some canvases gessoed today and tomorrow to get ready for Art Every Day Month.

Sunday morning I’ll be up before the sun even with the time change ready to do some art for the day. I’ll be live on Blab.im — so if you want to watch me early in the morning, you can.

I’m not sure how chatty I’ll be that early in the morning, but if you want to tune in, you’re more than welcome. And of course you’ll be able to watch the video afterward. I’ll be sure to record it on the site.

And if you want a refresher on preventing burnout during AEDM, just remember these tips:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Stick to a schedule
  3. Go to bed on time
  4. Silence your inner critic by remembering it’s about quantity, not quality.

See you next week!

4 Tips for Success During Art Every Day Month 2015

October 26th, 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.)

#AEDM15

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?