Why Every Artist Needs a Painting Log
Posted on January 26, 2023
As an artist, one of the most important tools in my arsenal is my painting log. A painting log is simply a record of my artistic process, including the materials I used, the techniques I used, and the inspiration behind each piece.
Keeping a painting log is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows me to track my progress and growth as an artist. By looking back at my past work, I can see how far I’ve come and identify areas where I need to improve. A painting log is a valuable resource when it comes to reproducing a piece or troubleshooting a problem. I can refer back to my log to see which paints and brushes I used, and what steps I took to create a particular effect.
Furthermore, a painting log is also a great way to stay organized and on top of my projects. It helps me keep track of what pieces I’ve completed, what’s currently in progress, and what’s still on the to-do list. This way I can prioritize my work and make sure that I am always working on the pieces that are most important to me.
But a painting log isn’t just a technical record, it’s also an emotional one. It’s a way to document the creative process and the artist’s journey. It can be a reminder of the joy, the frustration, the inspiration, the experiment, the challenge and the accomplishment of creating art. And it can be a way to share that journey with others.
In short, keeping a painting log is an essential habit for any artist. It’s a valuable tool for tracking progress, staying organized, and reproducing your work. It’s also a way to document your artistic journey and to share it with others. So, if you’re not already keeping a painting log, I highly recommend starting one today. Your future self will thank you!
Here are some specific ideas on how to keep a log:
- Use a physical notebook: Having a dedicated notebook to record your thoughts, ideas and progress can be very helpful. It allows you to physically flip through your pages and see your progress over time.
- Take photographs: Take a photograph of each painting you create and use them as a visual reference for your log. This will allow you to see how your work has evolved over time.
- Track your time: Record how much time you spend on each painting. This will help you to identify which paintings you spend more time on and where you could be more efficient.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings: Jot down your thoughts and feelings about each painting. This will give you insight into how you felt during the painting process and how it affected the final outcome.
- Create a painting log template: Create a template for your log that includes sections for the painting title, size, materials, date, time spent, and notes. This will help you stay organized and make it easy to reference.
- Use online tools: You can also use online tools like Google Docs, Evernote or a specific art log app to keep track of your paintings, thoughts and progress.
- Take note of your successes and failures: Take note of what works and what doesn’t in your paintings, this will help you to identify what you should keep doing, and what to avoid in the future.
As an artist, the journey of creating is not just about the final product, but about the emotions, struggles, and triumphs that come with it. Keeping a log of your daily painting practice is not just a way to track progress, but a way to hold onto the memories of that journey. Each stroke of the brush, each mix of color, each thought and feeling captured within the pages of your log.
Imagine flipping through the pages, seeing the evolution of your work and the growth of your skill. Each painting a milestone, a reminder of the time and effort put in. The log becomes a visual diary, a story of your artistic journey.
The act of recording your thoughts and feelings about each painting allows you to delve deeper into the creative process, to understand the emotions that drive your work, and to see how they shape the final product. And as you track your time and the materials used, you gain insight into your own working habits, discovering where you can be more efficient and productive.
Don’t let the beauty of the journey be forgotten. Keep a log and hold onto the memories of the paintings, the emotions, and the growth. With each passing day, you will become a better and more accomplished artist, and your log will be a testament to that journey.
Change of plans…
Posted on June 22, 2022
In my last post I mentioned I was going to paint a bunch of 5″x7″ one of them being of Fulford harbour. Well…. I changed my mind. A 5″x7″ turned into 8×4…Feet. Go big or go home, right? Hahaha!
I took some pictures one early morning in spring. A view from Isabella point road on Salt Spring Island. I particularly loved the fog hovering over the mountain. The sunlight lit up the fog and I knew I just had to paint this scene.
I glued the unprimed canvas to my panel and sealed it with GAC 100. I then primed it with 3 coats of Natural Pigments’ Lead Alkyd ground.
I drew a grid on my canvas and drew in the image. It’s quite challenging drawing a tiny image on a large canvas. This was not easy.
I used Raw umber for my underpainting. This was the easy part. I knew when it came to painting the distant trees, it was going to be a challenge. I was quite intimidated to say the least. But when it came down to it, it was a breeze. I was pleasantly surprised. Seems all the years of painting endless studies paid off.
I’m at the halfway point in this painting. There is still much more to do.
The colors on my palette are all Rublev colors : Lead white #1 & 2, Warm Burnt Umber, French Umber, Burnt Sienna, Purple Ocher, Ultramarine blue, Genuine Vermilion, Tavush Green, Chromium Green, Yellow ocher, Primrose Yellow. The Purple Ocher is definitely one of my favorite colors, a must have on anyone’s palette! The medium I’m using is Oleogel.
The Brushes I’m using are from Rosemary & Co ~ I used the Tisch Daggers to paint the trees. Super awesome brushes I must add. It made my job so much easier. The best brushes for painting evergreen trees.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Well, time to get back to work…
And here is the final piece… 4ft x 8ft
Tulips and Tea
Posted on July 12, 2021
A little 5″ x 7″ painting on 1/4″ birch panel. I limited myself to 4 hours on this one. The tulips are from my garden. I bought the tea-cup from a thrift store and changed the pattern. This is one of 24 daily paintings I did last spring.
I decided to do another painting challenge. Last year I painted every still life from life within 4 hours. This time I don’t want to rush, I’m going to take my time, if it takes me a couple of days to paint one, then so be it. I’m also going to paint from life and from photos as I want to include some landscapes and seascapes. I also want to do some plein air painting in my veggie garden. Yesterday I started a little landscape from a photo I took on the ferry heading into Fulford, Salt Spring Island. I tinted my canvas with burnt sienna and drew the buildings with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. Today I’ll start blocking in with color and see how it goes from there.
Have a wonderful day and Happy Painting!
Posted on July 10, 2021
This painting started with just the jar of oil, but it seemed so boring. So I included the brush, but it still felt like something was missing. The table top just wasn’t working. Then I looked up towards the book shelf and a light bulb lit up! My Rembrandt book! I loved how it worked so perfectly with this still life. The dark background, the jar with it’s brass lid, the paintbrush with the light bristles reflecting on the book. I was so delighted with this set up.
The palette of colors I used are ~ Alizarin Crimson, Primrose Yellow, Yellow ocher, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cassel Earth and Lead white. The 8″ x 10″ wood panel is 1/8″ Birch. I hung a black curtain in the background and it also helped having a black studio with only once source of light. I don’t have any windows in my studio as I didn’t want any other source of light besides the light above and behind me at about 35 degrees. This helps prevent glare on my canvas. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Have a wonderful day and Happy Painting!
Never give up…
Posted on July 3, 2021
Oil painting is a life long learning experience. Every time we paint, we learn something new. We’re always trying out new techniques, always pushing ourselves further than we think we can go. It’s a good thing. This is how we grow as artists.
At times we paint prolifically and there are times where we feel uninspired and don’t paint for months on end. The trick is to not compare ourselves to others or we can fall into a state of depression because we feel as if we aren’t good enough. There is no rush. We are where we are.
Take one day at a time, baby steps. Every amazing painter we admire, started at the very beginning. No one became master painter overnight. Just keep going, keep at it, keep painting. Keep persevering. Never give up. The more time we spend painting, the better we get. Time is our friend.
Keep learning and we will eventually become the Master painter we wish we were.
5 Amazing benefits of a daily painting challenge and why you should do it!
Posted on April 3, 2019
Sometimes it’s really difficult to find some kind of enthusiasm when you feel stuck. You find yourself looking through artist’s website for inspiration, only to feel overwhelmed with a sense of panic.
Comparing yourself to other artists can be very daunting. You feel like you have been left behind and that you would never be able to catch up. I felt like that after a long bout of depression where painting was put on the back burner. When I slowly began to recover, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do.
I also knew it was going to take a lot of discipline and hard work.
I thought to myself, okay Naomi, what can I do to discipline myself to paint daily? Well, the answer came rather quickly. A few minutes later I was invited to show my work for a month at a local, very busy, bed and breakfast. I knew this was my only way to get painting again. By lighting a fire under my butt. I accepted. Then I thought, okay Naomi, now what? How am I going to create a body of work really quickly as I don’t want to show my old stuff.
Then it hit me…A Daily painting challenge! That’s it! I had done this before and it changed the way I painted forever, and this is what happened…
5 Amazing benefits of a 30 Day painting challenge…
1. You will be more Disciplined:
Joining a 30 day painting challenge will force you to discipline yourself. You have to organize your studio and be prepared each day with a new subject matter. By the time the challenge is over you will be more disciplined. The benefits of self-discipline also carries over to other areas of your life. Like disciplining yourself to exercise regularly. It’s a win-win.
2. You’ll paint faster and loosen up:
Setting a timer to complete your painting is a must. Start with 4 hours. Prepare your panels ahead of time. Important~ choose small panels. Going too big will eat up your time. Painting on 5″ x 7″ panels makes it doable.
Soon enough you will find a method that works for you and by the end of the 30 days you will know what works and what doesn’t. It will also take you less time to complete a painting. Instead of four hours, you will be able to complete one in 2 or 3 hours.
Your technique will improve. Your painting style will loosen up. This forces you to paint more painterly.
3. You’ll become a better painter:
The point of the challenge is not only discipline, but to improve as a painter. You will be able to track your progress in a meaningful way that can be easily measured with before and after pics. If painting clouds is difficult for you, then paint a series of clouds or trees or landscapes from life until you master it.
4. You’ll have built a decent body of work:
You will have 30 more paintings than you did before you started the challenge.
There is something so gratifying about winning.
It’s not about winning a prize at the end of it all. The prize is your improvement. Your newfound discipline. Your 30 paintings. The feeling of accomplishment. And what’s even better, you’ll want to take it further… a 3 month challenge and a slightly larger canvas, because you’ll be faster and will be able to cover more canvas in less time. That’s another 90 paintings! That’s huge!
5. You’ll have more blog posts and a larger email list:
You’ll be posting your new painting each day on your Blog talking about your progress and your process. You’ll have more people engaged in your posts. If you have an instagram or Facebook account, post your painting each day and perhaps a few time lapses and link it to your blog. You can also run a daily painting challenge with your viewers engaging them that way. You can also set up an auction on your website or on Ebay and sell your daily paintings. You could also trade daily paintings with your viewers who are daily painting with you. You will grow your email list. You’ll have people who want to join the challenge and sign up to your email list.
I’m pretty sure I could come up with many more benefits. I’ll leave that up to you to discover them on your own!
I’ve ordered my thirty 5’x7′ panels and will start as soon as I’ve received them and prepped them.
Are you ready to take your skills to the next level?
Drawing is the foundational skill to a great painting…..
Posted on November 15, 2017
I swear by drawing sight size, in my opinion and experience, it’s the best way to get an exact likeness. It all begins with a plumb line. You could have a vertical and horizontal plumb line if you wish. I went with the vertical.
Don’t use a projector to draw, there are no short cuts to gaining skill. The only way is practice, a lot.
I searched for the best drawing materials and heard that Nitram was a great product, I bought a few packages and gave them a whirl. I must say, they are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them. What I really like about them is the paper holder, keeping my fingers from getting covered in charcoal. They also blend really well. Not all charcoal is created equally. I recommend using one brand and not combining with other brands on the same drawing. I tried this and ruined a drawing.
Tip*** Don’t smudge the charcoal with your fingers, I use a stiff round brush to smooth and blend the charcoal and a kneaded eraser to pick up the highlights.
For paper, I used Strathmore 500 series, tried both sides and I prefer the “wrong side” as it’s not as textured. I will be experimenting with different drawing paper, but for now, I still have twenty sheets to draw on.
I hope I inspired you to pick up a piece of charcoal and draw, it really is so mesmerizing!
Happy Drawing and let me know how it goes!
I received the Charcoal Drawing paper and Nitram Charcoal….
Posted on November 5, 2017
This morning I awoke with a renewed excitement. I’m going to be prepping a painting panel for a new painting. I can barely wait to get started. This is going to be so much fun! It’s going to be a fairly large piece. Life size. This is my grandson, Hunter.
I’m sealing my panel with Golden’s Gac100 and then four coats of Gesso. Once prepped, I’ll prime with a lead white mixed some Titanium white and a dash of burnt umber to a mid value. This is the first layer of paint upon which I’ll begin my drawing and underpainting. One of the predominant colors in the painting is turquoise. I’ll be mulling Prussian Blue and Pthalocyanine green to create the turquoise I need. These are two specialty colors I don’t usually use, but good to have for occasions like this.
I received the Charcoal Drawing paper and Nitram Charcoal I ordered and here’s my study for my painting. I’ll be transferring this image onto my prepped panel.
I will share my process with you, I’m excited!
Artists block ~ What’s an artist to do?
Posted on March 9, 2016
Feeling Blah and uninspired? What do you do when you run out of creativity? Is it perhaps boredom? How do you get your muse to move back in and carry on like the good ol’ days when you camped out in your studio, burning the midnight oil, painting like a crazed artist? Now you wake up and stare blankly at your easel wandering how on earth you’ll ever survive since your muse left not even a spark of desire?
Do you think perhaps going with the flow and just doing something else creative for awhile would help? Like gardening? Spring is on her way, how can one not be excited about getting your hands dirty, planting some seeds and planning your garden? Perhaps plant seeds especially for painting as a subject matter. Monet designed his entire garden just for that purpose.
How do you overcome Artist’s block and where do you find your inspiration?
One of the best ways to improve your work….
Posted on January 21, 2016
Don’t you wish winter was over? I know I do… I’m more of a spring and summer kinda girl. I can’t wait to work on my garden and grow veggies and soak up some warm sunshine!
Back to my studio, I’m working on a project I can’t wait to share with you! It’s big and will probably take several months to complete. In the meantime, did you know, one of the best ways to improve your work… is to paint every single day. Set a time limit and do your best to stick to it. Start with four hours and then decrease your time limit as you improve. Start with a small canvas with one object and then add a few more as long as you keep it simple. Challenge yourself with a very limited palette like I did on with the bowl of eggs and water and the silver sugar bowl. When your time improves, challenge yourself with a larger piece. Anything is paint worthy. Coffee mugs, teacups, glass or even a rusty old pot. It doesn’t really matter. Pick something and go for it!
Begin with an underpainting using burnt umber and then add color. Try to stick with a very limited palette to challenge yourself even further.
I would Love to see some of your studies! Feel free to post your pics in the comment section below!