Reflecting on Art Every Day Month #AEDM14

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?