Questioning the Daily Painting Movement

Duane Keiser Green Apples

An apple a day is good for you, but how about a painting a day?

The more paintings a blogging artist finishes and then posts, the more traffic comes to their site. There are many services to choose from to keep track of all this blog traffic, and the graphs are motivating. Who wouldn't be happy to see a continuing increase in visitors to their blog?

Up, up and away 
More visits gives a blog a higher ranking. It also means more comments and feedback, and it can mean more sales.


Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever feels a little trapped by the Daily Painting Movement. Do you ever feel pressured to keep your paintings small and to work quickly no matter what?  

It's a good thing to be able to simplify, and having to learn to finish up quickly can help everyone's work, but...sometimes I wonder if the practice of Daily Painting encourages superficiality.  

(Some of the above post first appeared in my other blog, and these are some of the responses. Please add your thoughts!)

Crystal Cook says: I actually have just been thinking the same thing... I've been working on a portrait that is small (6x6) and I HAVE been taking my time on it, because I think she called for a more refined working method. And then I found myself trying to rush through it this afternoon just so I'd have something to post! But then I got frustrated because it wasn't going with my 'vision' for the painting! 

So yes. I think it can be a little stifling. Although at the same time it has been very good for me too. Especially since I tend to suffer from detailitis. But I also wonder if it is causing artists to churn out work just for the sake of having work to post without any real feeling behind it. Not 
that that's bad sometimes. But maybe not all the time. 

Michael Dooney says: I think that something may have been lost in translation from the original intent of the daily painting concept. While painting everyday is a great goal, churning out 300 plus small (and in many artist's case) very similar paintings seems almost like having a factory job ;)
Artists like Carol Marine have made an interesting twist on the daily painting treadmill. It is my understanding that she does her week's worth of small paintings in two days and then has the rest of the week to concentrate on other work. But she can still post one a day to satisfy the DP addicts!

AnnaMariaI am so glad you brought this up Taryn. I have been really struggling with the daily painting concept. Yes, I can see the merits (battling with 'detailitis' as well),but there must be some time when one can really think and paint and change things and paint again, and sigh...Painters used to step back and look for ages and I wonder have we misplaced the time needed for that contemplative 'looking'?

Jim SerretThe daily paint market is an interesting creation and it has been very important as far as opening the web to artist and developing a market for inexpensive original art. But I am in the camp that a movement needs more of a philosophical base outside of consumption, merchandising, marketing and mass production. Often I can not see the difference between the work being mass produced from the ” Oil Painting Village of Darfin” in China and the Daily Paint Bombardments. Do not get me wrong I admire many artist that are participating in the daily paint thing, I mean who can not but admire the works of Duane Kieser and Julian Merrow Smith?I am just having difficulties in understanding why it is ok to mass produce small daily paintings often from photographs and yet we are appalled by what goes on in paint factories. I think you should give the Slow Art Manifesto a read, a different perspective on things. Here is a link from a gallery in Atlanta, the orginal PDF version with art work.

Crystal CookI think what it really comes down to is listening to your own artistic impulses and then following them. For some artists, daily painting fulfills them and they are able to execute ideas and feelings perfectly in a short period of time. For others more thought and time is required to get across their feelings. I think if more artists would listen to how they feel about painting, what makes them happy, what excites them, then there would be less superficial art. Less trying to be like everyone else. I don't think there's anything wrong with daily painting or slow painting, or painting from life or painting from photos as long as you as the artist are heeding your own inner vision instead of someone else's.

Karen Boe: Great topic for discussion Taryn. I started my blog a little over a year as a way to set goals and track my progress. For me, the appeal of daily painting movement was is its focus on painting regularly. I wanted to learn, practice different techniques, grow in my work and develop my own style. I set a goal to complete a small painting every day and set to it. But man, I failed at that real quick! Small paintings would take me several days or even weeks to finish, (still do), and that was really discouraging at first. I began to detest that unfinished painting staring at me from my easel. It was a symbol of my failure to be the free-minded, confident artist I thought I'd be, cranking out a painterly masterpiece on a daily basis. Why couldn't I get over myself and stop fussing with this thing? Just get it done and move on! I've since learned to make peace with that part of myself and think of "daily painting" as a verb, not a noun. It's the practice of painting daily, not the output.

Jo McKenzieI have not been at this painting thing long enough to have thought about how I might feel about it in a year or two. I have found in my life that when I start asking questions an answer will come . Not right away and not the final answer by any means but just enough of a hint of an answer to guide me to the next "baby step" I need to take. I do find the "answer" is often a surprise. Something I never expected. I will be watching to see where you decide to move (artistically).

Dee DoyleWow! Thank you so much for the topic! Am relatively new to the "movement," and have felt like an Outlier, or Imposter, because I am not doing so much as the rest of you are doing. But as many of you have said, indeed, it has improved my painting when I do it. I sort think there are several issues that relate ... one, the task of painting daily and producing some work. I see what some of you mean about factory production, AND, I believe that repeating some of my work makes me better at it. I don't know who said it, but it's better to do thirty one-hour paintings than to do one thirty-hour painting ... one learns more from the repetitiveness of painting many small, and sometimes related, small pieces. Really, that paradigm works for me ... SOMETIMEs. The Daily Painting thing, for me, is akin to "binge drinking." Well, that's sort of a course parallel, but what I mean is, I "get the fever," and can crank out about a dozen small paintings, then nothing for sometimes weeks!

Shinhuey Ho: I've been contemplating on the same question as well. No answer yet but I am now kind of taking a break. Since I joined DPW 3 months ago, I've been giving myself pressure to produce a painting a day. It was a really good exercise and helped to improve my skills. On the other hand, I don't want to paint just to have something to post the next day. Now I try to take my time and paint larger again. I may finish a painting not in one day but two days or three days. And that's ok. What's more important is that I enjoy the process and I don't feel rushed. Thanks for raising the topic.

Brian Cameron:  Great subject here. I can relate to just about everything said. The pressure to not just post every day but post something NEW everyday! The pressure to create something different than the others but still sell! Even the pressure to come up with a title for all these little paintings! That's how it feels to me some days...too much pressure. But in my case, painting is how I make a living so just showing up at the studio feels like pressure sometimes. A lot of us artists are rebels by nature so trapping ourselves in a 'must do' situation rubs us the wrong way. But for the most part I've enjoyed the daily thing. Working so small has been a huge change for me and hopefully I've grown by painting 6"x6". One thing I like a lot about the push to produce a complete painting quickly is it easily leads to a more spontaneous looking piece. Someone here mentioned that they wondered what it would be like to spend weeks or more on one painting. I often did that on larger pieces before the daily painting practice took hold of me. Many of those paintings never came to completion. It's easy to lose your way on a piece after coming to it in the studio day after day. Since I started trying to produce a small daily painting, I've found it even harder to spend too much time on my bigger pieces. I very much like the freshness of staying at a piece until it's done. Even if that means going at it 8 or 10 hours. I never want to leave a painting and come back later. I'm always afraid the muse will be gone the next morning.(and it often is!)I originally started the daily thing with no realistic expectation of producing a new painting every day. Instead I took it on as incentive to Paint every day but not necessarily to complete one daily. Even so I found myself not wanting to photograph my progress on every painting and post it every day even though I worry that my blog audience will wander away if I don't keep amusing them. I'll say this, and I may be wrong, but I think we are all apart of an art movement that will be categorized in later years. I imagine, at some distant point, a gallery show of collected DAILY paintings from this era. That's kinda cool huh?! 


  1. Thank you Taryn for bringing up a subject that I think a lot of us are dealing with. When I started a painting every day (or close to it) it was about the discipline of painting every day, building a following and producing a lot of work as well as connecting with other artists by commenting on their blogs. I was however posting paintings that I was not particularly happy with due to some unspoken rule about the movement and fear of loosing the momentum I had created. Recently I pulled way back from the daily painting, posting and commenting to re-evaluate my how, what and why I want to paint. Through this I have discovered that it is the process of painting that delights me most. So to that end, I have been once again painting most every day but only posting when I have something I want to share. It is giving more meaning to my work and that is a good feeling...thanks again!

    1. Yes, thank you Taryn. I too have pulled back a bit from the daily painting blog posting and for the same reasons that Dana mentions... whew... I still paint almost every day. I just don't post everything!

  2. In this stage of my journey, I am loving a painting (dreamscaping) 1, 2 or 3....a day. Call them Little Dreamers. Getting ready to begin Dreamscape No. 229. Not bored yet :)

  3. I am trying to paint every day. The problem for me arises when I feel I have to post frequently. I have set a goal of posting to my blog every week...but even that is unnecessary pressure. I have resigned myself to painting every day...but not feeling the need to "finish" a painting a day...or even a week. I paint, I post. I love to paint and enjoy painting daily but it has to be about the work, the process and not the deadline. For me anyway...


  4. I think Individual temperaments come into this big time. I am the type of person to dot my I's and cross my T's, so when I decided to try the daily painting it was a commitment to myself and every bit as serious as a signed document to the Queen.
    Why did I decide to do it? Why does anyone decide to do it?
    Quite simply, for me it was to improve my painting skills. I checked back at the earlier works of DK. JMS. and CM and could see the growth in their work. It compared to a concert violinist still practicing their scales, but with the choice of personal expression still paramount.

    The discipline of DP was much harder than I anticipated. Every time I was going to pack it in I would remember how hard the pressures had been to achieve deadlines with my illustrations but still did it and I was every bit as worthy as my other bosses and so bit by bit I found ways to make it easier on myself.
    Remember the goal was to improve my skill which is completely different from my artistic vision. I think the DP movement has helped me in that regard more than I had hoped for and I bless the originator and the inspirational artists who have led the way.

  5. Taryn, thanks for bringing this up. I've just recently been playing with the idea of completing a painting a day, and I'm scared!
    I'm like Julie Ford Oliver—once I commit to something—anything—I must follow through. I know the value of daily study to grow and become better—writers have the same idea of writing everyday. Practice makes perfect? I worry that the deadline becomes more important than the painting.
    It may work better for me to commit to "one a week."

  6. I see Daily Painting 6" x 6" as the visual form of twitter (which I love, btw). The small paintings are little statements, done for an audience. They don't attract much in the way of sales (in my case, anyway) but the community of Daily Painting bloggers, each publishing their piece, enjoy their work being seen and appreciated every day. In return, they visit other artists sites and return the compliments.
    It is truly a product of the internet.
    No-where else can an artist show their work to an audience and get feedback so quickly. Before the net, artists had to wait for a show before their work could be shown.
    I think its a great movement. But for myself, I have found it a distraction from my more serious practice. So like an addiction, I try to stay away... but weaken from time to time. That is why my blog is called "one painting every other day". :)

  7. Thanks for bringing up this subject Taryn...I have only just come across it! I can relate to most of what has been said. I started daily painting over a year ago, working small has been a big change for me and I would like to think I have grown as an artist by doing it.I paint nearly every day, but only post 2-3 times a week, which takes the pressure off having something new every day...some just don't work so they get binned! Love the DP movement!

  8. Daily painting has certainly helped improve my painting skills. It has also been a source of modest income. However, it began to hinder my artistic growth. As a result, I decided to break from daily posting and the restrictive 6x6" format.

    Sales almost disappeared as I expected, but I felt that my work grew. For me, it's all about artistic growth and discovery and not sales. But if we're going to talk about money.... it seems that most of the financially successful daily painters paint essentially the same subject matter in the same way, over and over again. I simply cannot work that way, I find no joy in it at all. I'd rather dig a ditch, which occasionally I do, to pay the mortgage.

    There is also the possibility that by posting cheap daily paintings we're devaluing our work. Look at some of the auction prices, they're appallingly low. I'm beginning to feel that the daily painting approach is shortsighted and is actually hurting artists financially in the long run.

    As a result, I've decided to post only occasionally and direct my focus back toward showing work of varying sizes in brick and mortar galleries. My gallery sales in December were literally 10 times my online sales and for much higher prices. I have serious doubts about online sales potential.

    If you want to grow as an artist, paint daily if you can. Paint large, paint small, mix it up. Take time to absorb, evaluate and enjoy the work you've created.

    1. My sentiments exactly. I was so happy when this conversation started because I was feeling like the lone ranger with these thoughts.

  9. (Great topic!) I learned to paint again in my 40s and I have the daily painting movement to thank for that. I don't know if I would have stuck to it --had it not been for the support and encouragement I received from blog visitors and fellow artists. I'm sort of at a crossroads though-- because it's time (past time) that I started painting more complex and time consuming work. The jury is still out on whether my current collectors (most of whom have bought 6x6 or 8x8 paintings) will make the transition with me and buy the bigger paintings or not.

  10. I'm not sure where I am with this. I've been posting on DPW 185 days worth. I post new, old, large, small, some daily and some that take many days. Some are framed, some matted, some "naked" of all that embellishment. I use the site as a way to have a lot of my work all in the same place to send people to, and as a way to catalog what I have. I'm prolific and paint quickly so one a day works for me, but it feels mostly like practice for the bigger ones. I like the community and feedback. My big wonder is if I am wasting my time if I really want sales. I put sold signs on ones that are sold, but they may not have been sold through DPW. I'd like to find a good way to sell more on line. Pricing is difficult too, when my normal small ones sell, when they do, for aabout 2-3 times more than the tiny prices I see on so many.

  11. I started out three years ago with this idea, mainly as a way to be a part of something that seemed like a vital movement on line and of course to have an outlet for my work.
    Since then my work has changed more than it had in years, because of the constant need to get on with it. I began really thinking about what I was painting, rather than just looking for something beautiful and trying to make a painting out of it. The constant need to pick a subject and complete it pushed my skills both in painting and in thinking about what I am doing, and the need to write something about the work really has stretched me in new ways.
    I love not having to show paintings in a gallery and still have people see them. I love the size. I can paint at a table, don't have to stand up to get back from the work and can easily keep track of the whole painting while I am working on a small area. The only thing I don't like too much is the necessity to have at least one or two very small brushes.
    I don't post every day because I don't finish a painting in one sitting usually, but I don't feel pressured to finish. After all who cares but me if I put a painting on my blog? The whole idea of being in control of the whole process without a person or persons in the middle is very appealing.

  12. This reminds me of a something Wendell Mohr said. When asked, "When will I start making money?" Wendell answered, "Who said you will make money?" "Then when will I know I am a success?" Wendell's reply was, "When you go to a yard sale and they have a price on your painting, then you have secondary market value."
    Sure miss that guy. A great watercolorist and friend who was a successful artist.

  13. Wonderful post and have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. So many great comments on all aspects. Agree with most everyone ahead of me! I feel like I am a bit late to the party but wanted to add my thoughts too!
    I started painting less than 3 years ago and loved the daily painting movement. I worked full time then and could work in a small painting that was simple and helped me start building up those many miles of canvas I knew I needed. I started blogging months later after a Karin Jurick workshop. (I am so thankful to the many kind and encouraging way better artists who left sweet comments on my "brand new not so great" paintings at the time. I will always appreciate that!) I was excited with everything I was learning and happy to share that along the way. I thought that the way everybody did it was to paint that day and photograph it still wet and immediately post it! And that is what I did for quite awhile. I later learned that most artists were painting ahead or stock piling and were able to edit along the way. It was like a big secret to learn that...
    I love what the initial daily painting did for me. I loved learning from all the blogs and studying everything I could find to read. I do paint almost everyday still but have learned that I only like to blog about 2-3 times a week. I also have learned that I like to paint bigger, usually Alla Prima, and like to keep a painting for just me for a week or so to just check it. Guess I like to Edit myself.
    So I believe I am every bit a Daily Painter but just not a daily blogger....I think there is a big difference! And that the painting far outweighs the blogging part:)
    I feel so lucky to have found oil painting and to be a part of such an amazing community!

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  15. I've been there - when I was doing regular posting on DPW and ebay i was making great income - the problem is the appetites of my collectors outstripped my ability to keep up. I would get requests for commissions, big versions of my small paintings, paintings like so and so's pastries, copies or 'similar versions' of this or that painting i did, etc. I never really did any of that, I didn't have time or inclination to cater that much...but many do it. On can lose their spark if they go that route. I know of at least one very successful daily painter who essentially paints right over photos...

    So the money part was nice, but the artist in me was not able to indefinitely churn out what were essentially studies in my mind. To put out paintings that fast one has to either repeat successful compositions or have little to no composition or content beyond decor...which is what i did. I would do the larger more complex ones at night, so was burning the candle at both ends.

    But one cannot really get to the higher aspects of art by catering to the decor market or repeating things over and over. Good, larger paintings with real content take, at the least, weeks to make and they involve much more mental discipline, so it is very difficult to keep up the smaller work at the same time for extended periods.

    Anyway, in my case, once I stopped regular posting on my blog, and concentrating on making real art, the whole machine just tapered off. It is interesting how that works, it's like any blog , the more you post, the better.

    It is easy to slip into the machine mode of painting when collectors are knocking at the door with money, and I see a few others that have had my experience. The ones that still keep meeting that demand over the years are a special breed. We all have our talents and it is important for each artist to know themselves and what it is they want to accomplish as an artist.

    Unfortunately I see the majority of people painting for the wrong reasons and it tends to be a 'follow the leader thing' with motif trends, selling trends, blogging trends, the incestous link exchange, etc. I think a lot of 'daily painters' don't understand that it is more important to develop their own path, their own art, to find what in life they truly respond to, and to use art as a way of serving their needs and also the needs of the public (ie, asthetics based art that enriches people's lives in some respect)

    There is an enormous demand for good art - but few artists understand this, and the public's large variety in taste. Much of the time they don't know what they want until they see it, but they generally know good art when they see it. The daily painters have a difficult time meeting this demand because good quality art is rare - there just isn't enough good art to go around, which is why a few artists generally do well and most don't.

    The daily painting movement has begun to stagnate somewhat because it is not really a movement but a method of output, marketing, networking, money, 'how to', etc. It really is a deception in a way, but true artists will find a way through it.

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  17. I think the daily painting movement is great in that it gets a person in front of their easel every day and moves them along that road of miles and miles of canvas. But, as far as I know, there is no rule that says you have to complete a painting a day and this is where most daily painters go wrong. Posting progress photos every day is just as valid as posting a completed painting. Just post what you painted today and don't worry about whether it's completed or not.

  18. I'm late to the party, too. I feel better about the DP community after having read what others here had to say.

  19. I'm clearly late to this party but no less pleased to read your own thoughts, Taryn, and hear the voices of others here in the comments. Someone above brought up the factor of natural temperament, and I feel this is a huge factor in the whole daily painting debate. For some artists, DP aligns with their natural work style and doesn't mark a huge departure from how they "would" be working absent DP, whereas for others, constant output of "new" product is quite unnatural and even a challenge to their temperament. But the space beyond an artist's comfort zone tends to be fertile ground for creativity--when we get too comfortable and hit a creative plateau, it's time to change things up. So in this sense, the challenge of DP for those with an opposite [natural] work style can be valuable as a tool to reignite a flame or play with new sources of inspiration.

    Now, by the same token, I believe it would be valuable for artists who are naturally disposed to producing in great quantity to take a step back, unplug and commit at least several days to one piece (simultaneously with other work, if need be...). Ideally, the creative process takes on a life of its own - heck, isn't that the whole point?! Isn't that the magic? Why rope it off into 24 hours? Why not give it free range? Look, I understand the reality that we've got to make a living here; if we want to do this full time, we've got to sell some of what we're making, and I think many people in the DP community started out blogging because they saw it as a means to get their work more exposure and ultimately make their career as an artist (financially) sustainable. Somewhere along the line, though, the balance shifted and daily blog posting, for many, seems to have become the end rather than the means. From my vantage this is a sad phenomenon, akin to the way in which some people are more interested in the photos they're taking on their smartphones than the actual experience that is theirs in that moment.

    I'm NOT meaning to be negative but just saying we all ought to be wary of letting certain priorities run the show. There seems to be a bias in our culture toward mass production, hyperdocumentation, oversharing, multi-tasking, "doing it all"; now, more than ever, we need art to counterbalance the trend.


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