Around this time last year, I watched as a dear friend and artist from British Columbia, Pamm Ciupa, participated in a 31-day challenge. The challenge was called the Strada Easel Challenge. The idea? Paint from life each day for the 31 days of January, post it to Facebook, and be entered to win a Strada Easel. (Us artists love our supplies and gadgets…)
Each day, I’d cheer her on as I witnessed her grow in confidence and skill with every new painting posted. It was clear that the simple challenge of picking up her brushes and capturing daily life was helping her forge an even deeper connection to her art.
I was a passive observer then. It was time to change that.
This year, I committed on the first of January and every day posted a painting from life. While I would have loved to be roaming the Finger Lakes capturing different scenery as winter unfolded, I’ll be honest: I’m not one for painting in frigid temperatures.
So my easel and I set up in the light of my own home, cleverly arranging still-life subjects I’d collected over the years.
For at least 30 minutes each day, I was fully dedicated to bringing these still-life subjects to life with my brushes and paints. I found joy in going through old things around my home, writing stories about the objects in my head, then arranging them in different groupings to paint.
At first, it was exciting. A new challenge!
Then a few days passed, and I faced some serious internal battles: Was my work good enough to post to 3,500 people? Can I really do this every day? Is this really something I need to be doing? Fear and ego reared their ugly heads, and threatened to stymy my progress.
Yet the same resounding answer came up every time: Yes.
Yes, you can paint every day.
Yes, it’s good enough to post.
Yes...you need this.
While I didn’t necessarily need a new easel (I love my Open Box M), this challenge brought out the best in me.
Some days, I worked early in the morning before the sun came up. Some days, it didn’t happen until late at night.
It took away all excuses -- whether tired, busy, or simply apathetic, I made the time to paint every day.
And it helped me consistently practice a stronger connection to my art for 31 days straight.
For me, art is my meditation. It’s my prayer. It’s my livelihood. Making time to honor and connect with it each and every day is crucial to helping me forge my path, find my voice, and leave my mark on this world.
I’m continuing my practice through 2019, knowing there will be days I will falter. Those days, I sketch in my sketchbook or read an art book. It doesn’t always look the same, but the connection is there.
For you, this might mean seeking a deeper connection to your writing. Your baking. Your music. Whatever your “art”; whatever it is that fills you up -- honor it. After all, if it’s something you love, it deserves more of you. And you of it.
In connecting with our art, we connect on a deeper level with ourselves. And that, friends, is something worth perpetually seeking.
P.S. This is the second post in my “words of the year” series. I’m thrilled to have you here as I explore incredibly important guiding principles for those looking to make change in the world: Connection, expression, and purpose. Last month, I encouraged you to connect with the people who fill you up.