The Habit of Art: A Year of Daily Painting

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What happens when you commit to painting—or to any form of creating—every day for a year?

You exist in the world differently.

 

You see objects and shapes and colors in ways you’ve never seen before.

 

You make things you would have never imagined making.

 

You read differently.

 

You misread. (It actually said Saunders.)

 

You think differently about writing. (Words by Milan Kundera.)

 

You think about art differently.

 

And poetry. 

 

And sports.

 

You sleep differently.

 

You dream differently.

 

Wake up differently.

 

You remember.

 

You see the whole world differently.

 

The skies.

 

The river outside your window.

 

You see light. Have you ever really seen light?

 

You remember.

 

You make ugly messes that you want to throw away.

 

You improve them dramatically with power lines.

 

You learn new things.

 

You paint your idol. (Clarice Lispector!)

 

You paint your lover. On a really big canvas.

 

You even sell a painting to a museum!

 

You also get rejected.

 

But you press on! You even paint late at night after a long drive when you are so tired.

 

You remember.

 

You join Instagram, use hashtags without irony, and participate in things called Inktober.

 

Then you’re all, “Now it’s November: NaNoWriMo! I’ll start a graphic novel about my great-grandmother’s life as a flax-spinner in Northern Ireland!”

 

You remember.

 

You find other people’s notes in library books.

 

You find beauty in vacant buildings.

 

You find your spirit animal.

 

And you find yourself.

But you are no longer the same.


Kelcey Parker Ervick likes to tell offbeat histories, preferably about women and preferably with drawings. She is the author of three award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová, about a not very bitter Czech fairy tale writer, and Liliane's Balcony, in which Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater may be haunted. Her comics and graphic essays have appeared in The Believer, Quarterly West, Passages North, and Nashville Review. She is the co-editor, with Tom Hart, of the forthcoming Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Graphic Literature. Follow her daily-ish art habit on Instagram. More from this author →