Tuesday, January 15, 2013

30 Day Challenges vs Master Study

It seems that the 30 day blog post, or producing a painting a day for 30 days is popular in January and a couple other times during the year. I think this works really well for the challenging yourself, but not so good for others - like me.

After a little consideration motivated by truly wanting to be more productive, I signed up for a 30 day challenge knowing right up front that it had to be adjusted a bit to suit my work life.

Instead of cranking out just any ol' blog post, IMO, I think it requires interesting content to make it valuable to the reader, and I just don't think I have that much to say that many would find interesting. I tend to be more of an internal processor, with occasional inspiration to tell a story.

Or in the case of completing a painting every day, OMGosh - I just know I wouldn't do well working that way. It makes me nervous and frantic just like trying to write something new and interesting everyday.

I am certain there is value in these activities with lots of starts and generating ideas - but to produce a final result every single day is just toooooo stressful for me at my current level of development!

So, I decided to give myself a slightly altered challenge and promise to paint everyday. Work on a painting I'm interested in producing, and work on it a little everyday. And glory be - I am succeeding!

Mancini Study in Reverse - NFS
8 x 16 Oil on canvas
© 2012
(Resting - 25 3/8” x 39 5/8” Mancini - c. 1887)

This painting is the result of the last week's activity. It is a study from a painting by one of my favorite painters - Antonio Mancini. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Mancini. The painting resides at the Chicago Art Institute.

I chose this one because of the contradictions embodied in this painting that I completely enjoy. The composition is done with a half and half split - darks and lights  almost equal, and a few other oddities we are taught not to do. I had to paint it to see if I could understand why I liked it sooooo much. (BTW, I did it in reverse to see if it worked both ways.)

My brushwork is not the same as Mancini, and I could spend many more hours improving on this painting. I only had a computer printout, and haven't had the privilege of viewing it in person. There are other obvious differences besides brushwork, but my pursuit of learning and understanding this painting made it worth the week's effort. I highly recommend selecting master paintings for study - there is much to be learned from this process - just be sure to give the master their due credit.


  1. I love Mancini's paintings so I was thrilled to see this gorgeous piece. I was taught to copy the masters as a way of learning so I understand your goal. I must say I really think you did a FABULOUS copy - in reverse no less.
    The interesting thing about the challenge is that no one has to do one every day. Leslie was very clear on it being FUN! I think you have solved the problem very creatively and one that suits your temperament. In my case I knew I wanted to push myself so did that by taking myself out of my comfort zone. Still fun though and I am glad I did it.

  2. I had the best experience with this study. I understand his paintings often showed the grid he used while creating them, and wonder if it gave his paintings a fractured appearance.