Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You got a paint set for Christmas?! YAY!

Copyright 2011, Daina Scarola
Years ago, when I started teaching myself to paint, I referred to a few great "how-to" books and just figured things out as I played along. Countless hours of mindless painting transformed into invaluable practice. People often ask me how long it takes me to do a painting. It's a really tough question to answer. I know most of them are silently calculating how much they think I make per hour based on the price of a painting because I can see the wheels spinning in their eyes. The truth is, it took me 9 years to do that painting. All those thousands of hours of practice, all those terribly embarrassing paintings, the thousands of dollars in supplies, enabled my skills to build and refine, and morphed all my previous phases and styles into what it is today. So if you're super stoked on that new art set you got for Christmas or your birthday, but feel overwhelmed by where to start, or by the idea that you're "not an artist", I've got great news for you! Yes, practice makes perfect, but who wants to be perfect? By the simplest of definitions, an artist is "a person who creates art". I think my little niece, Ellie, is an amazing artist! Look at what she got for Christmas...

Copyright 2012 - photo by Barb Scarola
And more good news... to get better at creating art, you don't need to follow the 10,000 hours to mastery rule. That's just craziness. I'm not sure I've even reached 10,000 hours! That would mean painting for 4 hours every weekday for an entire decade!! Let's scale down a bit and aim for 1,000 hours instead. I'll bet that, regardless of how talent-less you think you are, if you set a little chuck of time aside for yourself to practice painting 2 hours each week, you will quickly notice improvement from one week to the next, and will have even more fun as you get better at it. 

Copyright 2011, Daina Scarola
For all you oil painting newbies, I'll leave you with a tip that will hopefully take the guess work out of which recipe to use for a good medium. I have no idea what I used to mix for a medium to blend with my oil paints, but I do remember that my paintings would take weeks - even months - to dry! This recipe  will reduce drying time to less than a week:

In a mason jar, mix 1/3 parts of each of the following...
- linseed oil
- taltine (odorless solvent)
- citrus thinner

Happy Creating!


  1. YES! You have been my inspiration to becoming an artist. It has always been a part of me, but until I met you, I did not have the courage to go forward. Thank you so much for that gift. It means more to me than you will ever know.

    1. Aww thank you so much, Kerry!! A special lady gave me that gift, too, years ago. I'm not sure if she'll ever fully understand how much that meant to me, but I do understand how much it means to you. We all have our own personal journeys waiting that are meant each of us, we just need to recognize when the time is right to open that door and take the first step... I'm so glad you took the leap and have joined the ride :)

  2. Thank you for this. I tend to always think of myself as a creative because the work artist seems to hold so much weight. Maybe with practice I will become more comfortable using it. Marie Forleo made a great video about "acting like a professional" in that you should wake up every morning and do as an "artist" would do. This helps create positive habits and encourages practice. It's funny how a simple mind-shift can affect your work so much.


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