18 Things I Learned From Painting Every Day in September

Fall palette 2

Fall color palette study in acrylic spurred a new, larger oil painting for the next day. About 5 x 7.5″. Karen Gillis Taylor, 2014. click for larger view.

My theme for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge was “Permission to Imagine.” All of the paintings and sketches were conceived from imagination. I used a variety of media: acrylics, oils, watercolors, mixed media and one digital sketch from Photoshop. Ideas came from small thumbnail drawings, mostly. One aim was to feel free to experiment and not worry too much about making a perfect painting each day. Here’s what I discovered:

1. I learned to be more decisive as I painted, so I could paint more efficiently. This included taking bold steps and “just going for it.” But also paying attention with my progress so my decisions were not just “willy nilly.” Lots of concentration involved!

2. A good note to self: record my beginning color sketch with a photo. Then if I’m tempted to overwork my painting, I can see the fresh places in the early version and make corrections or stop painting.

3. Another note to self: remember to save my color mixes by placing daubs on a white page to make swatches of color. If I really love a particular color palette I can go back and use it again in another painting. (I did this a couple of times!)

4. I found I love oils (again.) I had already decided to try many media, and had not painted with oils for a while. Good step for me.

5. I already knew I am not a speedy painter with my usual processes, so I had to remember not to feel guilty if I didn’t finish a painting in a day. It helped to post my progress photos, at least. Some viewers enjoy seeing the process!

6. Yes, I can finish small studies in a day.

7. Taking breaks was hugely important, even forcing myself to do it if I didn’t think I needed it.

8. I learned I can make watercolor paintings while traveling, and what supplies to bring. (I had a previously planned trip to Santa Fe, NM very early in the challenge. I only missed one day of  painting, which was the day I flew home. It happened to be my birthday too, and that night we had a family celebration! So I made up the lack of painting in later days.)

9. Having a well of ideas from my many sketchbooks was very useful. As I pored through them, recurring patterns of what I enjoy painting emerged again and again. This spurred new drawings too.

10. Some of my paintings came from color explorations. I have a technique of mixing colors, daubing them on a sheet of acrylic paper, and later finding interesting shapes within the large page of daubs. Cropping a section out in Photoshop is a way of creating a new composition with possibilities.

11. Walking in the mornings or doing my Classical Stretch program (PBS) gave me better energy and focus for the day.

12. The trip to Santa Fe and a couple of day trips to the mountains gave me fresh inspiration and a necessary “play time.”

13. One day a quick trip to Home Depot for small sponge brushes, with a stop in the paint department to choose a color palette from paint chips gave me inspiration.

14. I experimented with sponges for textures with some success.

15. I continued to tape my palette swatch pages to my easel along with the small pencil or color composition plans. Handy and helpful!

16. I played with Photoshop for some beginning sketches.

17. I revisited palette knife painting for looseness of approach with some success. Saves washing brushes, less paint thinner evaporating into the studio!

18. I rescued a couple of paintings I had almost given up on, which I discovered I can do as long as I am ready to make bold changes and keep an open mind, to finish in one day.

Would I do this challenge again? Probably so. I might try a different approach the next time. Maybe decide to make small studies I can finish in a day next time, or choose one medium like watercolor? Now that I know I can stick with this for a month, I feel very happy and glad I saw this through! Very worth the effort!

Thirty Days of Painting, Karen Gillis Taylor, 2014 Challenge Event

Thirty Days of Painting, Karen Gillis Taylor, 2014 Challenge Event

Feel free to comment please! Thanks for reading,




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2 Responses to “18 Things I Learned From Painting Every Day in September”

  1. ro848 Says:

    Love it!! Thank you.


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