Recapping Art Every Day Month 2016 (#AEDM2016)

December 17th, 2016

This was the third year in a row that I’ve successfully participated in Art Every Day Month. AEDM2016 was a lot of fun, though I hit a wall early in the month when I got sick. But I took on a sub-challenge that helped me get through it.

Out of a possible 30 days I only got in 10 days

Superman work in progress (Art Every Day Month 2016 - Day 8)

The first few days of the month it took a while to find my groove. I started out working on a painting of Superman that I started for my four-year-old, but that was actually kind of hard for me. Abstract has become my default way of working. Painting superheroes is entirely different.

Then about a week in, I got sick! I don’t know why I forget I tend to get sick almost every November due to the changing seasons and weather. I ended up with a sinus infection as well as pink eye! So I missed a few days from being sick and then just recovering. (I haven’t been this sick in some 11-plus years.) Going forward I need to be more careful about how I budget my time and energy… how do I prepare myself for November physically, and stay in good health?

But on the days that I did get in the studio I got some good work done, especially going into December. Overall I’m pretty happy with the work I did.

What worked?

I’ve discovered that people really like the abstract pieces I do that resemble sunsets or sunrises. The other thing that worked really well was a gold bar motif. I sold a number of small paintings with a similar motif. I don’t know what it is about the gold but people really seem to like it.

Abstract Sunrise painting - in progress

Two Gold Bars paintings in progress

Around Thanksgiving I got an idea from my friend Jeff Bertrand to do a bunch of small affordable pieces. He has an entirely different style from mine (pop surrealist cartoon characters and singers and movie stars) so I didn’t feel like I was copying him too much, although he told me to “get my own tots.” 🙂

But it was fun to do about ten eight-by-eight-inch paintings and sell them for $30 each. I did not make a lot of money off it out. In fact I barely broke even. But the goal was to get my art out there. Not to make money. But to get my art on people’s walls. And that worked!

What didn’t work?

I discovered that yellow is a difficult color to work with. Especially when combined with gray and off-white. It looks really sharp if it’s done right, but it’s very difficult to pull off. So my hat is off to Hyunmee Lee who I’ve found and admired on Pinterest.

It is still very difficult to create light in paintings. I think it has something to do with the additive nature of the paint. The more paint you put on, the darker it appears. You can always add more white, but sometimes the white can be blinding. It’s all about striking a balance between the light and the dark. That’s something I’m learning, and I’ve been painting for years.

Videos to come

Still pushing that yellow and orange! Work in progress. Day 23 of #aedm2016 #arteverydaymonth

A post shared by Brad Blackman (@bradblackman) on

I still have a number of time lapse videos to put together. I have the raw footage on my iPhone but I haven’t stitched any of it together yet. So be on the lookout for time lapse painting videos in the next few weeks.

#AEDM2016 Mid-month report

November 18th, 2016

We are halfway through November, which is Art Every Day Month! It’s gone by pretty fast for me.

Unfortunately I haven’t been as productive as I had hoped to be. I got sick at the first of the month, which seems to be in keeping with my usual track record for November. It doesn’t seem to matter what the weather is doing, but something about this time of year always takes a toll on me. I’m looking into preventative measures to combat this in the coming year.

Anyway, this month I have done some work on the small Superman painting I started for my son back in the summer.

Superman work in progress (Art Every Day Month 2016 - Day 8)

It’s been fun to do, but something of a challenge because the details are entirely different from the abstract landscapes I’ve been creating the past several years.

It’s been unseasonably warm, so I took the opportunity to go outside and work on some sketches for painting ideas. You can see echoes of my overpasses and bridges in these as well as some of the fog I’ve been obsessed with the past few years.

I’m really looking forward to expressing this on canvas soon.

Ink Sketches (Art Every Day Month 2016 - Day 17)

I actually dreamed about painting the bottom one. The dark areas were black but as the paint ran out it turned pinkish. It sounds pretty different for me but right in line with the kind of stuff I like to do.

It’s been slow going this year. I’m thinking I may do another art every day month in the middle of the summer, when I’m less likely to get sick. My kids will be able to get in on the fun, too, since they won’t have to go to bed early for school the next day.

How to Prepare for an Amazing Art Every Day Month

October 21st, 2016

Confession time.

I haven’t been in the studio since July.

Yeah. I know. It’s driving me crazy.

I threw out my back the last week that I was preparing those paintings to hang in Erabellum for the August Art Crawl. I was able to finish them up and hang them in the gallery, but I never got back to the studio after that.

Then, the kids started school. My freelance design work and day job got really busy. Next, we took the kids to the beach for fall break.

Art Every Day MonthSuddenly it is almost November, which means Art Every Day Month is upon us. The prospect of working on art every day for a month is a welcome one for me.

I’m so ready to get back in the studio.

This will be my fourth year to participate in Art Every Day Month.

In 2009, I gave the concept a shot, but I had no strategy for Art Every Day Month. I just photographed stuff and doodled and said, “I did several things today so that counts for the next few days.”

Nope, that’s not how it works.

You don’t work out three times as long one day and say that workout counts for the next three days. The same goes for your art. You’re only going to see change when you put in the work regularly. (I’m preaching to myself, here.)

I discovered abstraction in 2014

So in 2014, I understood I had to have a plan. I had learned that trying to crank out a single painting in a day was a recipe for burnout for me. So I just painted as many days as I could, even if it was just for 20 minutes before work.

That formula worked.

I discovered how much I love abstraction and how freeing it is to let the paint do what it wants.

AEDM14 Day18 Progress

Rock-and-Roll in 2015

In 2015, I explored painting rock songs, and everything turned really dark. I think a lot of that had to do with my emotional state. So much was uncertain. I had gotten laid off. We left a church we liked when some things happened that made us feel unsafe. The kids were starting a new school year. I had some freelance coming in, but not enough to get us through the end of the year. I didn’t know what my job future would look like. My wife started cleaning houses so we could make ends meet.

And all that bleakness showed up in my painting.

Days 27-30 of Art Every Day Month

A concerted effort to bring back the color in 2016

Reaching She Ascended, DescendedThat brings us to 2016. What will I do for Art Every Day Month this year? I’ve been working hard to bring color back to my paintings, and I think I’ve succeeded. I’m happy with where it is going, but there is still a lot to be done to shape it into something I am really happy with and excited to share with everyone.

I’ve had a lot of ideas knocking around in my head lately. Recently I wrote about how I’m inspired by several things right now. Do I paint fog/haze? Pure abstraction? Expressive forms? Flyovers? Bright colors or a limited/analogous palette? Use sacred geometry? Something inspired by lazy pressure-washing on the sidewalks?

"Pressure" acrylic on canvas. 20 x 20 inches. 2016

I wonder if there is a way to combine all of those things. Would all of those things make the art confusing? Fog and bright colors don’t really go together. Or do they? That’s the beauty of art. The beauty of beauty itself. Contradiction and paradox are wonderful things, because they tease and stimulate the mind.

To prepare, I’ve done sketches over the past few months. They don’t look like much right now, but for me, that’s enough to get something started. I’ve found it is best to simply start with the kernel of an idea. Trying to control the outcome of a canvas is counterproductive. A single idea like a shape or a color or something like that is enough for me.

Black-and-White Sketches for Upcoming Paintings

I’ve also been adding to several Pinterest boards. Pinterest is visual candy for me. I love how it recommends things based on what I’ve pinned before. It keeps showing me more abstract expressionist paintings, and images of fog, people working on giant canvases, and the like. And when Timehop shows me old Instagrams and I decide I still like them, I will throw them into a private board as fodder for painting ideas.

Pinterest Board "Haze" Pinterest Board "Scratch" Pinterest Board "Stuff I Should Paint"

So, what will I paint in November?

Since it has been a while since I’ve spent any time in the studio I don’t want to sustain a creative injury from doing too much at once. So I’m going to start small, and go bigger from there.

I’ll post weekly progress reports here on the blog, but if you want daily email updates during Art Every Day Month 2016, sign up here. (If you already get my email newsletter, this is a separate email that I’ll send out.)

And of course I’ll update my Instagram and Snapchat accounts as often as I think to.

Are you participating in AEDM16?

If you are participating, leave a comment to let everybody know where we can follow your work!

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.

Art Every Day Month 2015 Recap

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 “don’t 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.

Slow progress is still progress.

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.

Days 27-30 of Art Every Day Month

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.

24-aedm15

Brad Blackman's 6 steps to a painting inspired by "Kashmir"

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.

David Bowie - cover for self-titled album from 1969In 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.

Day 14 of Art Every Day Month 2015

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. 🙂