Daily Art Practice

My wife teaches private piano. One of her strictly adhered-to rules is daily practice. For the little kids it may be half an hour each day. And she gives them exactly what they are to practice.

In art, this same structured regimen is just as important. The difference is that we don’t have a lesson each week for which we need to be prepared. No notebook stares up at us each day from the coffee table with notes on what we should be practicing today. And if a week goes by without any drawing or painting, then we don’t have to face an upset teacher.

If we are going to accomplish the same in art, we have to be the student and the teacher/taskmaster. We have to be the boss and the employee. And we can’t be a boss who expects us to show up once in a while and get paid. So what should we be doing? How do we hold our own feet to the fire. How do we demand of ourselves the adherence to a daily practice schedule. Try focusing on a point in a river and you will get an idea of how time will slip past without us realizing it. It is a fact that everyone finds time to do the things they really want to. There are very busy captains of industry, salesmen, lawyers and doctors who manage to fit in several rounds of golf every week. It may mean that on Tuesday morning or Saturday morning they get up at 5:00 and get the golf in by 10:00. But they do it.  Why? Because they really want to-enough to sacrifice some sleep for it.

We should want to draw better,  paint better, be better at our art enough to sacrifice some corner of our schedule for it. The important thing is that it be daily, and that it be a fixed thing on our agenda. The problem I see so often is that the art making is on a “when I have some time” basis. And when does that suddenly happen? “Oh, I have some time right now, I’ll go draw.”  The likelihood of that happening is about as good as Christmas coming in July.

Since we don’t have a teacher handing out practice sheets for us each week, we are going to have to do that ourselves. But just in case you find that difficult, here is an assignment you can try, after you establish the exact time you will practice each day.

Before you retire select something for the next day’s drawing session. This can be anything from a leaf you picked up in the yard, a shoe, an egg beater, an open book, or your camera.. Don’t spend a lot of time selecting. Often the best subject is something you would never have thought of as a subject for drawing. At your self-imposed drawing time spend 15 minutes drawing your selection. What you will discover is that you probably never really saw it before. Something happens when you start to draw a thing. It takes on a new importance. Just the fact that you are spending precious time getting to know it better does something to it. You may want to share this project with a few like-minded  art friends. If you all share your results it can increase the determination to complete it.

Have a wonderful time discovering the world right around you. Here is an example.

Old shoe



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