Top 5 Tips for Doing a Painting a Day for a Year

In January, I began Outside the Lines, a painting a day for a year. I sometimes, like today, use a stream of consciousness approach, dabbing blobs of paint, and studying it to see what image emerges. In this, I saw two people hugging. I actually like the stream of consciousness almost as much as I like the final painting.


Klimt helped me turn the SOC into a proper painting. The best part about copying a master is that as you’re doing it, you learn how a master paints. Their energy infuses you.


I’m now part of a 30-day painting-a-day challenge called 30-in-30, where artists from around the country are doing a painting a day for the month of September 2016.

Since I’ve been doing this since January, and because I did another painting-a-day series two years ago called Operation 365, I wanted to offer some tips for anyone taking on the task.

  1. Composition with lots of objects and figures is very difficult to finish quickly. One object or person is usually the easiest to tackle.
  2. An up-close view point, a close up of a face, or a torso or a dog is usually easier than a far-away view. You can get into more details with the time you have.
  3. Some days it’s difficult to come up with a subject matter. I use the stream of consciousness approach, dabbing paint any which way and looking at it to see if an image emerges, to job my visual memory.
  4. Another trick for coming up with ideas images to paint every day is to get into a series of similar paintings within the overall series. I did a mini-series that involved a cartoon like character with large hands who was dropping something into a bowl. I kept adapting what he was holding every day for about a week. img_3204
  5. Allow it to be a mess. Don’t try to make it perfect. Don’t draw the hands carefully if you don’t want to, just make them a swash of color. Experiment with letting go of details. This is the biggest thing I learned from the two painting-a-day series, how to allow myself to be in the flow, be sloppy and forgo details. It has opened up my painting ability significantly to let go of this control. (The following is from Operation 365 and was painted in 2014.)


Caroline Allen is a novelist, visual artist and coach., 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s