Tips for Surviving a Daily Painting Challenge
This is my second year participating in Doodlewash’s World Watercolour Month Daily Painting Challenge. Watercolour Artists all over the world commit to painting every day in July. Both times I emerged from the challenge proud, inspired and if I’m honest - a little burnt out!
Daily challenges like World Watercolour Month and Inktober are quite popular, especially in the world of Instagram and Social Media. These challenges are an excellent opportunity to build a consistent painting practice, improve your skills, and build community. But they are called a challenge for a reason!
I am a notoriously fast painter, and even working as a full time artist, I had a difficult time setting aside the 30 minutes to an hour it takes to complete a painting (even a mini one). A painting a day seems small, but on top of other commitments and responsibilities, it can be a huge undertaking.
If you are thinking of doing a daily painting challenge, here are some of my tips to make it a bit easier on yourself.
1. Don’t pressure yourself to create daily masterpieces
A sketch, doodle or a study is MORE than enough. Don’t fall into the trap where you think you have to create a masterpiece every single day. Did you pick up the paint brush? Mission Accomplished! Some of the magic of watercolour is that it can be speedy - if you let it be!
2. Allow yourself to create bad work
Watercolour is notoriously unforgiving and we ALL create bad paintings. Don’t stress if your daily painting doesn’t turn out. For every “masterpiece” there are two more in the trash! In a world of social media, admitting to these “failures” can be hard. Just remember, every painting is an opportunity to learn something and get better. All the great artists mess up. The greatest ones, mess up a lot!
3. Set up your “Studio”
This is a basic prep/time saving tip. Don’t make it harder on yourself by having to set up your entire home studio every time you sit down to paint. Many of us don’t have the luxury of a home studio. If you have to set up and clearn up the kitchen table every night for the challenge you might struggle. If possible, find a little corner to keep set up or create a portable paint kit you can take on the go!
If you use reference photos, Print your references ahead of time. I made sure to pre-cut small pieces of paper in advance and kept my palette full. Reduce any barriers to getting started. This is kind of like keeping your gym bag packed and ready by the door.
4. Collect inspiration before you sit down to paint
It can be difficult to think of what to paint every night. When you get to the studio, don’t sit there for 15 minutes looking for inspiration. Have it ready to go! Bring your smart phone with you on walks or fill a folder with reference photos. Work with a theme or in a series. I “favourite” great reference photos on my iPhone so I always have inspiring photos to choose from. If you are the planning type, you could even schedule your subjects ahead of time.
5. Build a community
I have met so many people through this challenges and built a closer friendships with some other participating artists. Make sure you use hashtags like #dailypainting and try to connect with others doing the same challenge. Having a group of peers working together helps keep you accountable and inspired. Cheer each other on!
6. If you miss a day, move on
Don’t torture yourself trying to catch up or “cheat” by completing more paintings. Do this challenge for yourself, not for Instagram. Burn out is real and we all lead busy lives. In days of Covid-19 many of us have a lot on our plates right now. If you skip a day or two (or more) don’t give into "challenge guilt." Theres always another day to pick up your brush.
I hope this helps. Thank you to everyone that followed along on Instagram and to all the amazing artists who painted along with me. All my paintings from the challenge will be uploaded to my online Store July 31st at 9 am.