Why Every Artist Needs a Painting Log

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

5 Comments on “Why Every Artist Needs a Painting Log

  1. I love what you had to say about the painting log, and, at the same time, I find it overwhelming. For one thing, I’ve been painting for years, so would I just start from now?

    What would be an example of techniques you use? It all seems terribly time consuming. Can you tell me more about how you go about it?

    Thank you!

    **Anne ** http://www.annelittledavis.com


    • Hi Ann, start with a book dedicated to your studio. Write down the name of the painting as a heading and then jot down the colors you are using and what still needs to be done and write down your thoughts about the piece.
      Write down any aha moments when you discovered a new technique. Oil painting is a continual learning experience, keep a log about your progress and where you need to improve.
      Try out new palette combinations and write them down. This really helped me stay organized and keeping notes helped to keep me focused on what needs to be done, helps me prioritize my workload.
      I keep notes about stuff I learned from other artists and refer back to them when I need to expand my technical knowledge or when I’m troubleshooting a difficult passage I’m painting. I keep a log of websites of my favorite artists for inspiration and ideas. Keep a log about your ideas and what you would like to explore and learn. Just a few ideas to start with. Hope this helps!


      • Naomi, thank you so much for the clarification. It now sounds much more doable to me, and I do like the idea of recording my thoughts about the process. I also like the idea of recording the reason or inspiration for the piece. I will start this journey tomorrow!


      • You are most welcome, Ann, it’s a great tool to keep us motivated and organized. Let me know how it goes!


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