What I Learned after Creating 23 Paintings in 23 days

When I embarked on this painting challenge, I thought it would be a quick and easy daily painting squeezed in somewhere in between working at the museum, teaching painting classes, filming a new vlog, or any of the other 2389487983729 things I try to cram into my daily schedule. I was definitely wrong. Challenge describes this painting adventure perfectly. As with any challenge, I learned a few things along the way! 

Ms. Frizzle Knows What She is Talking About

Anyone remember her? From The Magic School Bus aka my childhood in a nutshell. She famously said "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" I took quite a few chances throughout this process. Every day was a new adventure and a new opportunity to take chances. I did a lot of experimenting over the course of the challenge, and the small scale allowed me to fearlessly take chances. Some of them worked out better than others, but knowing that each day was a brand new, clean canvas was comforting. If I didn't like something I did one day, I could learn from it and do something differently the next day! 

I experimented with Pebeo paints and they ended up being one of my new favorite materials to work with. I also explored how rubbing alcohol interacts with acrylic on the canvas. Previously, I'd only ever used rubbing alcohol to remove acrylic paint from my clothes. Knowing that it very effectively breaks down paint, I was nervous about the effect it would have on the canvas, but it ended up being a great way to pull highlights in a painting without using white! 

It was a floral kind of day for #23daysofpainting 5 days down! #madewithmichaels #amyreaderartist

A photo posted by Amy Reader (@readamy) on

Having a Plan is Usually a Good Idea

Day 4 was the most difficult day for my by far. I had no plan for the painting, no color palette in mind, nothing. I figured I would just paint and something would work out. The end result? I was grumpy, unhappy with the painting and nearly had my butt kicked by a 3x3" painting. I stepped back, texted my bff, and got a game plan together for the next day. Flowers are always my go to whenever I am stuck. They make sense to me and keep me grounded. I've always loved them and probably always will! Day 5 came around and I did my research, found a flower I liked as my inspiration, and day 5 ended up being one of my favorite paintings! 

Moving forward, I kept something in mind each day - whether it was a specific form, or just a color palette. I never went into another painting completely blind. This provided me with a little bit of security because I had some sort of idea what the goal was. Sometimes, the painting changed completely from what I was initially thinking, other days it looked exactly as I envisioned it. Either way, I had somewhere to start. This prevented me from feeling completely lost and frustrated with another painting. 

But Always be Prepared to Improvise

Day 10 - my mom left me home alone, and being the wonderfully capable and semi-functional college graduate that I am, I burned my hand while cooking. Specifically, all of my knuckles on my right hand. As a right-handed individual, that significantly hampered my painting abilities. It cut my painting short for that day, and I had to accept that not all 23 paintings would be done exactly one per day as I had intended. The next day, I let myself slowly work on another painting in phases, even though that meant adjusting my timeline and eventually I had to paint two in one day once my knuckles weren't so angry. 

Find Your Rhythm

In the beginning, I tried to squeeze painting in anywhere in my day that I could. This didn't last very long as my days are often long and unpredictable. A few days in, I decided to end my day with painting. It was the perfect way to wind down after a long day and it quickly became my favorite part of my day. I knew when I was going to make the next painting, and I didn't have to try to schedule it around my jobs or other commitments. I also had something to look forward to at the end of my day! I initially thought about starting my day with painting, but honestly the only thing I want to start my day with is coffee. A lot of coffee. However, ending my day with herbal tea and a paintbrush was perfect for me. 

Now all 23 days are completed, I am a year older, and I just want to keep painting teeny tiny little canvases! I ended up with great ideas for some larger paintings and a good direction for a different painting that I had been having trouble completing. It has been quite a fun challenge and I am thankful for everyone who has followed along either on my blog, Instagram or Facebook! I am running a giveaway for two of the paintings! One is on my Facebook and the other on Instagram! Additionally, all of the remaining paintings (except for the one of my goldfish, I'm putting that one next to his tank) will be for sale Wednesday evening!