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Monday, May 06, 2013

A Great Idea for Daily Painting Practice

'Desert Blooms'   3.5 x 3.5      pastel        ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $25
 What's your excuse for not painting more often?  Busy with work?  Can't focus? Not organized?  I'm sure we can agree that painting more often and practicing with our chosen medium is going to help us become better artists.  I know that it is often difficult to make the time needed for painting practice.

 I am a firm believer in trying to do something art related every day.....no matter how busy you are.  If you could paint something every day that would be the best but I know that isn't easy. If you know me then you know that when I was working full time I painted a small 5x7 pastel study everyday at my lunch time. I credit this practice time for shortening my learning curve and making me a more confident painter. I encourage all of my students to make time for daily practice. Just like learning any new skill...practice is the key...you can read and study and watch but it isn't until you DO that it will all start to make sense and notice results!

Are you ready to commit to more practice time?  I have a great idea for you.

A collection of my small 3.5 x 3.5 pastel studies
This idea requires little in terms of time or money. You only need to set aside 15-30 minutes a day. You don't need to use expensive papers.  You are going to paint 15 minute small STUDIES on pieces of matboard.  That's right...small paintings that you will consider studies. You are taking the pressure off yourself to create a 'good' painting every time you are at the easel.

 Think of these studies like playing musical scales or practicing your tennis serve.  They help exercise your painting muscles so that when you do have more time to spend on a serious painting you will have more practice under your belt.

Here is the best part..... You will be recycling materials to use for your studies!

  • I am using small 3.5 x 3.5 pieces of matboard cut outs that I covered with Clear Gesso. Read more about this in my post HERE. The gesso gives the matboard just enough tooth for pastels.
  • You can easily find inexpensive pieces of mat board at local art and hobby stores. 
  • You can sometimes get matboard pieces from frame shops or framers. Ask around!
  • Clear gesso dries clear so you can use it on colored mat board too.
  • I like the matboard for it's thickness. It makes the small size seem more substantial somehow. But you could certainly cut up your scraps of pastel papers to use for your daily studies.
'Backroads Taos'    3.5 x 3.5    $25 click here

'Moab Winter'    3.5 x 3.5    $25 click here

'On the Way to Ghost Ranch'       3.5 x 3.5    $25  click here

A few more tips:
  • Set up a small box of pastels that you can leave out and ready to use. For a small piece of matboard you don't even need an easel. Tape it to a small piece of mat board and sit at a table. Spread an old dish towel to collect the dust.
  • Prepare your papers in advance. Have a stack of paper and reference photos ready to use. Don't waste your 15 minutes looking for supplies!
  • Set a timer. If you tend to loose track of time or over work a painting....time your sessions so that you make sure you are doing small quick studies!
  • Have fun and paint what you love!


Kim Morin Weineck said...

Yes! This is a great exercise. Mine started this past winter --- I blogged about them here: http://kimmorinweineck.blogspot.com/2013/03/highlights-from-my-pastel-studies.html

What fun and what a great way to warm up, experiment, and keep your hands dirty ;)

Thanks for sharing!!

Karen said...

Thanks Kim! Thanks for sharing your experience too!!

Sandra Kavanaugh said...

Great idea, that will help ease my feeling that everything has to come out good. It will free me up to practice and just plain have fun!

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your advice, and am trying to pay heed. I love the colors in these small studies you've painted.

Michelle Wells Grant said...

So smart! Our pastel group is going to do this!

Donna Weathers said...

Just going through old entries on your blog and this one inspired me because of your mention of lunchtime painting. Unfortunately, I do have a non-art full-time job as you once did. Today I brought a limited number of pastels with me, a few pre-cut 5x7s and spent 30 min. painting at a park that is within driving distance. It was terrific! Thank you for sharing that!