For most of my life I could neither paint, nor draw. It didn’t bother me much until I started homeschooling my kids following Waldorf curriculum and my artistic ignorance started to get in the way of good education. Oh for sure, I have stood in the Louvre in front of Mona Lisa and looked at Titian’s Bacchus in London’s National Gallery. I studied Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and admired sunflowers in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I liked art; I just couldn’t will my fingers to produce anything that could even remotely be called a painting or a drawing, and I was finding it hard to instruct and inspire my kids through our art curriculum. I finally took some art classes and learned that ability to paint was a learnable skill. Not everybody can paint masterpieces, but everybody can learn how to paint the basics. Ever since my discovery I’m on the lookout for good how-to art books.
When I saw Daily Painting by Carol Marine I knew that I had to read it and I’m glad I did. At the center of the book is the idea that painting on a regular basis, using small canvas, will help you grow as an artist. Painting small pictures has many benefits: you are less worried about screwing up, more inspired to experiment, it fits easier into your schedule, and you enjoy the process more. It doesn’t have to be daily, but “paint daily” is catchier than “paint often.”
For me (a recovering Perfectionist) the most important lesson from this book (and it applies to all areas of my life) was the realization that instead of concentrating on making something perfect it’s better to give myself a deadline, do the best I can within that time frame and then move on to the next thing. There is almost always opportunity to make something a little bit better. I would be so concerned with improving things that I would get stuck with just one thing. Now I tell myself I have two hours, I give it my best and move on. It certainly made me more productive, happier and actually more creative.
This book is great for beginners (like me, but not absolute beginners) and for more seasoned artists. The writing style is conversational and Carol Marine writes with humor. The book is 182 pages long and is filled with beautiful full-color paintings by the author and by many other daily painters. The book is broken into 11 chapters and I will briefly summarize each.
Chapter 1 How Daily Painting Changed My Life (and can change yours too)
Carol Marine shares her personal story of how painting daily turned her career around. She lists the benefits of painting small and often, shares her daily routine, talks about how she finds her inspiration and subjects to draw, gives advice on how to establish reasonable expectations and includes five stories about other daily painters.
Chapter 2 My Materials
Some of the topics covered in this chapter are lighting, shadowbox, paint, medium, and even flying with paint. Just as the author I often forget to wash the brushes at the end of the day and no matter what I tried (dishwasher liquid, mayo, rubbing alcohol) they were never the same and I had to throw them away. I must have thrown away thirty brushes this way. Carol Marine shares her secret ingredient. Murphy’s Oil Soap. I happened to have it and could try the trick right away. And it worked!
Chapter 3 Subject Matters
Still Lifes/Flowers, Landscapes (including sea- and skyscapes), Animals, People (including figurative subjects, portraits, children and sports), Cars and Buildings (including interiors and cityscapes), and Abstracts are six subject matters covered in the book. She talks about each category in detail, gives ideas on how to get started, offers useful and fun exercises that could help explore the category deeper and includes stories about other daily painters.
Chapter 4 Value
Carol Marine considers value the most important element of creating sellable and interesting images, no matter what medium and what subject. She gives great advice on how to get values right, how to be in full control of value composition, and offers a Value Study exercise (which I completed and enjoyed).
Chapter 5 Color Mixing
This is my favorite chapter in the book. I think color is one of the most interesting subjects in the world. Color can change mood, cause action and reaction, raise and lower blood pressure, increase or decrease appetite, and even put you to sleep. There is even a Medical branch called Color Psychology. The topics covered here are saturation (the relative intensity of color), the role of gray in color mixing, how each color leans toward other colors (for example ultramarine blue is blue with a little red in it), and how to change what you think you see. This last one was the most useful for me. Just to give you an example, you would normally think of a red apple as being red and a beginner might paint it red with a second color to make a shadow, but a more advanced painter would make their own red from a mix of red, blue, yellow, and white to create a more realistic apple. Exercises in this chapter are fantastic.
Chapter 6 Drawing and Proportion
One of the most important skills to master for any painter and the only way to get better is to practice. But practice how and where do you begin? Not to worry, this chapter gives you great instructions on how to mark the boundaries, compare the location of each mark, get big shapes down, and work the way down toward the details. I appreciated the tips on how to ignore the brain (i.e. paint what you see and not what you think you see; use viewfinder to get angles right). And I loved the instruction on how to draw ellipses correctly and how to understand the perspective.
Chapter 7 Composition
Trust your instinct, mix up the intervals in your composition, use a variety of colors and degree of saturation, change direction/size of brush strokes, incorporate soft/hard edges, use both warm and cool colors, remember the rule of thirds, avoid rows of objects and awkward “kissing,” break the myth of odds,… these are just some of the things you will learn in this chapter to create a dynamic image.
Chapter 8 Staying Fresh and Loose with Oil
This chapter gives detailed instruction on how to go about drawing your composition with a specific focus on what to draw first (start with areas that are harder to paint – I always did the opposite) and what to keep in mind while painting. I really like the seven-step tutorial on how to paint tomatoes and discussion of top six mistakes students make.
Chapter 9 Fighting Artist’s Block
Everybody gets it. Highs and lows are a natural part of life. Just roll with it and try some amazing suggestions in this chapter.
Chapter 10 How to Photograph and Edit Small Paintings
Point your art away from the light, get square to the painting and many more tricks to take good photographs of your art. Editing tips are useful even if you don’t have art, but simply like taking photographs.
Chapter 11 Tips for Better Online Sales
Set up a beautiful blog, generate web traffic, use social media, send out press releases, advertise, etc are some of the topics covered in this chapter.
In conclusion, Daily Painting is a book that is a pleasure to read and it left me inspired. I recommend this book.
You can learn about the author here and check out her beautiful website here. And you can buy this book on Amazon.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.