Tuesday, June 21, 2016

289: Daily Painting

–I RECENTLY received an advanced copy of Daily Painting by Carol Marine. As I opened the packaging I read the title on the back page–Do you want to bring the joy back to your art?  I answered inwardly with a resounding YES!

Since taking a plein air trip two weeks ago, I'd been ruminating on how to get my plein air mojo back. I lost aforementioned mojo in the summer of 2014 at a prestigious plein air event where due to a variety of factors like large prizes and famous participants I performed far beneath my ability. Since then, try as I might, I couldn’t return to the previous joy I experienced painting out-of-doors.

I experimented with James Gurney’s methods outlined in Gouache in the Wild. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. If you are experiencing a plein air funk there is surely something in Gurney’s video to help you evolve your own plein air process. From the novel ideas I learned about gouache I began experimenting with acrylic markers in plein air. I had some success on my last trip and ordered 12 more empty acrylic markers to expand my previous collection of 6 pigments.

Although Daily Painting is not specifically about plein air painting it provided me with the last component to what I hope will be new found joy of painting in the field. Not only was the book good inspiration–I found Marine’s paintings fresh and energetic–but she also included some great tips (like using Murphy Oil Soap to clean brushes). There are also a variety of paintings by other artists along with their experiences with daily painting (which appears to have evolved into a cottage industry for many artists).

My interest in daily painting is to find an entry point where my plein air work is authentic and easy–that is, to use daily painting as a way to improve faster. With my full schedule of gallery shows and projects I need something to carry me forward with as little friction as possible–and something that will lead me to a more successful plein air experience. I feel at some point I will transition back to oils but will lean on acrylic markers and my drawing ability to get to a more confident state.

At this stage I’m still formulating my theory and assembling a plein air kit but here are my specific needs:

Keep the equipment light and easy to transport (my former approach with oils was too complex).
Keep the process easy (focus on my strengths like basic drawing skills).
Make the process challenging enough that I routinely employ essential plein air skills.
Keep the process less time consuming than previous plein air sessions (the entire experience, finding a motif and painting, should take less than two hours).
Get the joy factor up so you want to paint every day.

The last item is the most important for me and I think I can do it by changing mediums and painting small–two factors that will help keep my ego out of the way and allow me to relax and enjoy the process.

If you’ve had success with daily painting I hope you will share your experience below.

Brad Teare –June 2016


  1. Wonderful blog, as usual Brad. Hope my long comment will fit in this box! It's not really about daily painting per se; but plain-air could be a daily exercise if the set-up were not so cumbersome. Hence my comment's theme.

    It took me 2 years to fine-tune my equipment to eliminate any time-wasters that encroach on painting time. Here are some improvements:

    1. Pochade box attached to tripod ahead of time: I now travel with box & tripod secured upside down by bungee cord on a small luggage trolley. Other items (paint tubes, spray bottle, small boards, baby wipes and paper towels all fit in a backpack Larger boards (if needed) and water container can be secured on the trolley.

    2. Scratched in line on tripod legs for correct standing height; once on location, all I have to do is pull out and lock tripod legs (while on the trolley) to the line mark then flip the whole thing right side up. Takes about 2 minutes and only needs small leveling adjustments.

    3. I use acrylics and to resolve the fast drying time, I use little meat tray liners pads (very cheap to buy in bulk), pour a bit of water over them until they've soaked up their maximum, wipe off excess water, and place these (with punctured side facing up) in a covered tupperware-type container that fits inside pochade box. I prepare this ahead of time as well. The pads remain damp and keep paints workable – but I also mist them (and sometimes the board) with water every 15-20 minutes plus use 1/2 water/1/2 gloss medium (especially when doing a smooth blend). I put a few “shots” of retarder medium in both the mister and the medium containers.

    4. Once box & tripod are in place, all I have to do is squeeze out the paint. To regain a clean mixing area on my palette, I just need to lift one or more pads and replace with clean ones (or put clean ones on top of used ones – these pads are very very thin so can be “stacked” if needed)

    5. Now to the actual painting: I view the selected scene through a small red plastic viewfinder that reveals only the light and dark values. I've decided to skip the “notan”/small thumbnail advice(!); instead, I use a dark blue or brown pastel stick and work out composition directly on the painting surface – I can quickly draw the lines of “thirds” - select focal point then do a very quick sketch in pastel (water soluble and easy to wipe off if I need to correct the layout). The side of the stick is great for blocking in all the dark. I often will do this while looking through the little viewfinder so that no details detract from large shapes. Pastel dissolves once acrylics are applied. This takes less than 5 minutes. My aim is to make as much of a 2-hour painting count.

    Set-up and initial sketch can be done in less than 10 minutes! BTW: left over paint keeps for a long time in fridge because once covered the pads retain their moisture. Also, they are treated with something to prevent bacteria (hence why these are used as meat tray liners).

    Well, that's what works for me. I'm not a professional artist but rather a work in progress!

  2. Daily painting and to be on David Marine's Daily Paint Works helped me evolve, so much that the body of works before and after my daily painting practice clearly show a difference, for me,the difference is improvement!

  3. Your work certainly has been improving. I love what you are doing. I didn't know you were on Daily Paint Works. I will check it out. Thanks for the positive words. They will be a of great value as I move forward with daily painting.


Thanks for your comments!


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