lessons from a month long experiment

So today is the last day of March, which means it’s the last day of Express It Month 2016!

When I first had the idea to do this experiment, I had no clue what was coming! It’s been a very interesting month in some ways. Today I’m talking about some of the experiences it brought and sharing more of my paintings from it. You can see the first batch here, and some art from other participants here.

Express It Month is now available inside the Happy Artist Studio – CLICK HERE to learn more!

Tara Leaver

Trying out neon on top of the ‘base’ of a rough scape

Wonderful company

When I put the suggestion out there to do this experiment together, I didn’t know it would be greeted with such enthusiasm. Over 500 photos were shared on Instagram under the hashtag #expressitmonth2016, as well as in my private Facebook group.

Tara Leaver

Beginning to establish a baseline painting that I can then bounce off from/push further

I really loved how people seemed to take it in the spirit in which it was intended; an idea to explore rather than a challenge to complete.

Some did something every day, some just as and when; some used the daily emails as a springboard for what they created, some just enjoyed the emails without the creation side. Some created imaginative photos, some painted and drew, some journaled, some made crafts.

That makes me so happy; I’m a huge fan of agency and making your own choices about what will work best for you, which isn’t always easy to get across when you offer something like this.

Tara Leaver

My favourite piece from the whole month – if only I could experience the flow of creating this and the outcome every day!

Lessons in process

For me, this was an unexpected side effect, and one for which I’m extremely grateful. For one thing, making art daily with a specific-but-loose focus like this {expression of feelings} showed me things about process that I hadn’t previously grasped experientially.

Tara Leaver

I love making these loose, quick scapes on paper SO MUCH.

I learned that daily expression in this way created a kind of foundation, so that I wasn’t reinventing the wheel every time I went in to paint. I developed a certain approach that enables me to create a similar ground or base painting, which works well as is {sometimes!} or can be used to push my own boundaries.

This isn’t new information for most artists I’m sure; in fact I suspect it’s ‘understanding process 101’, but for me it reached a new level this month.

Tara Leaver

Trying to find that subtle difference between attempting to recreate what works and allowing what works to be repeated in fresh ways.

After I grasped that I could funnel my ‘feeling expressions’ through a subject I feel deeply connected to {abstract landscape}, rather than feel I had to make a full abstract or something else each time, things suddenly exploded!

Allowing myself to repeatedly use a palette I adore, to work fast and mostly on paper, and to use favourite marks, started to create a groove that felt both comfortable and like it was pulling me forward.

I feel I’ve really just touched the tip of the iceberg here; I could paint every day for the rest of my life and still have more to discover in just this tiny area. How fantastic!

Tara Leaver

Sometimes I did my daily expression in my sketchbook in the evening using oil pastels and water soluble media

Art/Life Revelation!

Towards the end of the month I had one of those eye opening moments where you see something you already ‘knew’, sort of, but it suddenly becomes so clear you feel you just stepped up a level or had some kind of upgrade!

Tara Leaver

Pushing it over the edge into abstract

It was the confluence of various aspects of my life coming together and the realisation that they all have happened or are there because my highest {deepest?} value is FREEDOM.

I won’t go into too much detail about that right now except to say that in terms of the art, I looked around at all the paintings I’ve done this year {which is quite a few now!} and I suddenly saw it.

Each one, sometimes in different ways, is about a desire to express what freedom feels like.

Tara Leaver

Continuing exploring this kind of composition, and pushing myself to make more varying marks

Seeing that so clearly opened up a new space in myself, my life, and my art, which I am very excited to explore. In fact I’ve already started making plans and having ideas for new courses, new experiments and exploration of ways of working.

Quite honestly it’s unlikely that I’ll continue to make art every day after this month {until the next experiment!}, but I’ve learned so much over the past thirty one days that I have a wealth of creative goodness from which to draw now that will last a good while, and I suspect just keep expanding if I continue to put energy into it.

Tara Leaver

Another evening sketch, exploring how much I can take out {using white oil bar} to create that feeling of spaciousness and freedom while still having it work as a painting

If you took part in this experiment, thank you for joining me! I’d love to hear in the comments what the experience was like for you; did it reveal anything new or spark ideas for further projects? What were the struggles and the triumphs?

CLICK HERE to access Express It Month, alongside many more courses, inside the Happy Artist Studio!