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  • Writer's pictureMckenzie Kvalsten

What I Learned After 30 Days of Inspiration

I am in the last few days of my '30 Days of Inspiration' September art challenge where I complete one painting a day. I started this challenge because I had been painting larger pieces and I thought it would be a refreshing change to do some smaller works, as well as pushing myself to problem solve with a daily deadline.

Painting daily is not without it's challenges, especially with oils! I had to count on being able to start and finish a painting in two or three days, giving the first layers time to dry before continuing. There were about five paintings that didn't work out at all and I had to start over! And of course a few that took longer than expected.

So what are some things that I learned this month?

First, I realized how important it is for me to take my time on some pieces! I do paint quickly but there is a definite point where I know I am pushing it and need to step away, or let it dry a bit to keep colors from being muddy. With this daily deadline I sometimes couldn't step away and had to keep going, and wet-on-wet oil painting takes an entirely different set of skills that I haven't mastered yet. But the paintings from those frustrating days are already painted over!

Second, I can now confirm after this research that I love painting big! When I first started painting I could only work on tiny- we're talking 3"x5"- canvas panels, but now I am craving at least a 35" canvas (although in the art world that is still considered a medium size!) Large work takes a lot more paint and a lot more time but watching my vision come to life day by day energizes me in ways nothing else can. I love the process and all the tiny surprises I can hide in a big canvas!

The third and final takeaway I have from these 30 days is don't be perfect, be productive. I have started many other 30 day challenges and quit, but this time I made it a priority and made it happen, even if it meant starting over or staying up late to finish. (Or on one day, turning down time with friends!) Time, patience, and frustration can all play into a project like this. There were days I really didn't like what I made, or days it just seemed too easy! Art is inconsistent because it's alive, and living things change and grow. That's part of the beauty and mystery of being a painter, I just never know how a painting will end.

Thank you for following this challenge! I'm going to be doing Inktober in October but I will be just jumping in a few days instead of doing the daily challenge. I am just itching to paint big again and have so many ideas for new projects so stay tuned!

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