In December 2006 I built a little, light “pochade” (French for little sketch) box. I was so delighted with it after I painted my first 6x8” painting that I decided to establish a discipline to paint, from life, a 6x8” painting every single day. My passion is painting "en plein air" but I wasn’t spending enough time doing what I love. As my career evolved I would find myself spending much of my time painting in my studio, or getting bogged down in the copious office work required (after all, I run a business: I’m the CEO, manager, manufacturer, PR person, secretary, go-for, framer, shipper, supply and photo departments, all rolled into one!), so my “dailies” turned out to be a delightful project.
My little box fit into a satchel that I could sling over my shoulder when I went on a walk. When I saw something that excited me, I would sit down on a low backpacker’s stool, and prop my box up on the ground. I could also toss the kit into my truck when I went on errands and sometimes an impromptu scene would suddenly present itself. I would pull over to the side of the road and paint right from the cab. I was ruthless with myself and cut no slack; sometimes late at night I was at my kitchen table painting some little thing that caught my fancy from the refrigerator (see “Ziplocked Onions” 5-6-07) to make my quota of one painting per day.
The result was I often painted things that I otherwise might not have (“Online” 5-10-07). I painted when I felt like it; I painted when I didn’t feel like it (and I surprised myself by how quickly I would get involved and engaged once I started painting.) I painted in weather I wouldn't normally have ("20 Degrees and Flurries" 1/12/07). I often painted the same subjects over and over, such as the pinon trees on my walks, but each one was different, a fresh perspective. By using this small size I was forced to eliminate unnecessary detail and get right to the point of the painting, which helped my compositions. The small size also made it possible for me to paint fleeting light effects, so I painted things I hadn't often tackled before. I grew as an artist in a way comparable to a musician doing scales over and over, a daily practice, keeping me fresh. Because of all this, I feel my skills as an artist vastly improved.
I stayed with this rigorous daily discipline for six months, then the busy art show period of summer and fall forced me to concentrate on other projects. But I recognize how valuable this discipline has been for me, so I continue to paint a little 6x8" as often as I can. You may view many of these paintings on the Portfolio Collection on my Artwork page.