As an Artist, When Do I Practice?

Visual artists, like athletes, need to practice.  Musicians spend hours in the practice room, and dancers spend a good portion of their lives on the dance floor.  Painters and drawers need to practice, too, but each time we put pencil or paint on paper we end up with a physical product, one that often spends time being stored in the studio.  It’s not good enough to leave the room and go out into the world for others to view, but we are reluctant to confine it to the trash or have a bonfire.  And, yes, I have a stack of these in my studio.

I set out yesterday to do one of my 120 paintings, a magnolia flower from a neighbor’s yard.

First attempt at painting a Magnolia flower, watercolor, 5" x 7"
First attempt at painting a Magnolia flower, watercolor, 5″ x 7″

My conclusions:  I got carried away looking for the color in the flower and forgot to make the color subtle so that the flower still appears white.  This blossom had one petal curled over the center cone and I should have moved the petal off the cone in the picture.  The leaves need to be darker and more unified.  And I’m not happy with the background.

So, I could check the box, say I’ve been there and painted that, and it didn’t work for me, but instead I think I will go back and do it again.  After all, these 120 paintings are all supposed to be practice!


120 Paintings

“It takes 120 bad paintings to know something about painting.”  –  Larry Seiler as quoted by Jeff Mahorney in his blog

Each painting is small in format and should be completed in about an hour or less.

My goals are to improve my technique, to paint faster, and to gain experience with a variety of subjects.

7 thoughts on “As an Artist, When Do I Practice?

  1. Sometimes we are our own worst critics! I love the delicate of this magnolia study! Last week in Mindo I pointed to a faraway tree and asked, ‘Is that a magnolia?’ (No) I had seen a magnolia in Quito a few weeks earlier. They’re such lovely trees when in bloom, and the subtle fragrance matches the delicate nature of the flowers.
    I would probably paint it again as well if i were not pleased, though i do like what you’ve created, even if it doesn’t represent your work as much as you’d like!


  2. Ruth the flower totally reads as white to me. I totally agree with you re practice. It is something that many people fail to realise and something I am guilty of not doing enough of. Karen

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