Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Angel Sang: "Keep it Real"

"Angel 1" by Jim Carpenter, Acrylic on Paper, 6.5" x 4.5"

The Nature of Challenge Day One: One Begets Another

Usually I do one painting for my Christmas cards, photograph it, take it to the printer and have copies made, and then fix them to card stock and off they go. This year (who knows what possessed me) I decided to paint individual cards. I had been through a great 30 day Challenge with Leslie Saeta in September and maybe that fed the notion that I could paint 84 paintings for cards this year. My rationale went something like this:
1) It will take the pressure off of having to come up with ONE perfect painting in a few days
2) It will save me $80 in printing costs
3) I will get to paint a lot 
4) After they are mailed all of the paintings will be gone
5) Some people will think I am crazy and that is good for my image

It was all good. But nothing is perfect, and by Dec. 22 I was in a crunch.  

The Problem With The Process: The Product

I was very focused in the painting. It never quite resembled a production line but I had a number of themes going. 1) Red and Green Joy - 2) Snowflakes - and 3) Angels.  My main theme for all of them was Joy - but at some point I knocked out 5 angels - the first of the 5 is shown here. The painting was fun. Laying all the paintings out and counting them was fun. Trying different things in each painting was fun. I was being idle in the most enjoyable way. And when the painting was done and there was nothing left to do but actually attach the painting to the card stock and put it in an envelope I turned into a disinterested loafer. 

Once again I am reminded that it is the creative process that draws me to painting. It is the opportunity to use paint for self expression that drives the art making - not the final product.  

I was up until about 3 a.m. on Dec. 23 putting the cards into the envelopes. And at that time I hatched a plan for 2015 - paint the cards all year long - don't wait until December to start. Have the envelopes addressed by August, and maybe in 2015 there will be time to put up a tree.  

 2015 Challenge: Paint Your Heart Out

So probably you are wondering what any of this has to do with the current 30 day challenge I am taking on. Well, first of all, I'm pretty busy this month and I know there will be days when I cannot paint. I was going to paint today but needed some way of easing into it - like figuring out how I was going to connect the 30 days to my practice.  

As usual, I have a number of unfinished paintings waiting to be "done" - and hopefully the challenge of painting everyday will lead to working on finishing some of the more demanding pieces I have in progress. On the other hand, I want to celebrate, to practice some joyfulness, to experiment with some abstracts, experiment with some pigments - and would like the 30 days to be the jumping off place for a year of painting whatever my heart desires - or thinks it desires. 

I decided to post the angel for day one because I just came off a challenge of my own making - 84 paintings. It's sort of cheating by not doing a painting today - I'm borrowing from last week. But reviewing my card paintings today served as an inspiration for the January challenge -  I know I can do a 4.5" x 6.5" painting a day.  Here is a small sample created on PicMonkey (cropped images) of some of the paintings I did in December.
In this 30 day challenge I will continue my series of 4.5" x 6.5" paintings, and more. My focus will be on keeping it real - painting from the heart - being fearless in my quest for meaning and self-expression. 


  1. I am laughing Jim. So you are not into stuffing envelopes huh? ha ha Your angel is beautiful, bright and yet serene. I always think about painting Christmas cards, usually late in November. haha

    1. Hi Sheila, I see we do think alike. Wait until November to drive ourselves crazy. But it really was a lot of fun. I think the discipline developed by doing 2 of the 30 day challenges made a difference this year. Now let's see if I learned a lesson... ;-)

  2. Great plan & I really love your angel painting too, Jim!

    1. Hi Karen, Thanks! I thought about how great your plan is while trying to figure out mine!