Timed Paintings kill Resistance

Recently there have been some real challenges, when it came to doing art.  The last couple of months I’ve done a lot of mixed media pictures and have had a struggle getting back to “regular” art.  I’ve tried it twice with the same unhappy results.  SIGH… So I started feeling small and insignificant.  There were all kinds of “tapes” playing in my head and began to feel some fear.

Zig Ziglar a motivational speaker talked about, “FEAR”, False Evidence Appearing Real.

Later went for a walk around the neighborhood and confessed my fear, to my husband, George.  Honest vulnerability is the biggest combatant of shame.  When it’s exposed to the light it can no longer grow.  After the walk I was able to do a drawing and later a crazy fish and it helped my fear.  fish

The next morning I was still facing fear and resistance so I chose to do two things.  Step One, purchase the book “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield on “Audible” and Step Two, started listening to it. Then decided to do some “timed” paintings.  My art teacher and mentor, Joan Moody introduced me to this principle.  You find one picture and paint it 4 times.  The first painting for an hour, the 2nd painting for 30-45 minutes, the 3rd painting for 15 minutes and the 4th for 5 minutes.  So I grabbed 4 canvases and started to prepare.  I looked at my picture and put the paints in front of me I needed, grabbed some brushes, and tried to be brave and set my timer and began.

My 10 Steps to Timed Paintings

  1. No time to overthink it you’ve got to just begin.
  2. I grabbed a brush and a paint (I usually use Quinacridone/nickel azo gold Gold Fluid acrylic) and begin to sketch out my picture by painting.
  3. It is often surprising at how I can look and see and still get a picture not quite right, but I can just draw it bigger or smaller later if needed.
  4. My usual start is on the background of the painting first and in this case it was the sky.  I find myself just having to quickly put paint on the canvas and while it’s not exactly what I want it to look like I get it to where it is quite acceptable.
  5. Then the challenge is to add all of the same color on the canvas at the same time.  So if there is red in several places on the picture, it will added  (sometimes I forget this and get focused on the one thing I’m working on), but definitely have to do this in the very quick paintings.
  6. I begin by adding in color all over the canvas.
  7. It’s important to frequently be looking at the picture you are doing to be certain it is being done properly. (Verification is a good thing.)
  8. Yes, I find myself running in and looking at the timer (as I’ve turned off my iphone) and think “I’ve got to get moving and make some decisions now.”
  9. I’m especially conscious in the last few minutes to decide “if I could only do a couple of things what shall be done?”
  10. When finished I begin to “breath again” and look briefly at my painting and put it away where it cannot be seen.  Then prepare to do it again.  It always helps out to take a short break for about 10 minutes, before starting again.
IMG_1694 (Edited)
My First painting 1 hour

For the 2nd picture a chosen canvas was chosen that I had painted dark blue (underneath is a picture I gave up on, that’s another story) and realized this is  going to have to be done differently.  Since this canvas is almost twice as big, I realize it requires bigger brushes.  This time I the timer is set for 25 minutes so I can know when the last 5 minutes are, because this time is the most crucial.  Again I can’t overthink what is being done,  but do find the 2nd picture and even the 3rd picture many times are my best as muscle memory begins to hit and I don’t overthink what I’m doing.  (Muscle memory has been synonymous with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.)

2nd picture 30 minutes

In some ways even though the time gets shorter my thinking becomes clearer.  I rarely am able to do much in the last 5 minute picture, however I just have to show up and try.

At the end of the process all four pictures are bought out and placed side by side.  It is often surprising at how they turned out.  Sometimes I love the paintings and sometimes I just like them, but I do find I’ve done much better than orginally thought.

The next day I worked with the first 3 and tweaked them to make them ready to be available to for people to purchase.  It’s interesting how even though they are all from the same picture each is unique in it’s own way.

Please consider taking the challenge of “Timed Paintings”, truly it has helped me work through “The Resistance” and you will be surprised at what you can do in a shorter time.



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