The Habit of Art: Another Year of Daily Painting


A year ago, I asked the question: What happens when you commit to painting—or to any form of creating—every day for a year?

Now I guess it’s time to ask: What happens when you do it again for another year?

For starters, it’s not magic. You still have your regular life to lead.

You still have to go to meetings.

And funerals.

And Target.

You still get sick.

And break things.

People still drop Twizzlers in the elevator.

You still eat bibimbap and get songs stuck in your head.

You and your cats still get confused.

And, frankly, you still have the sense of a humor of a teenage boy.

But! You get unexpected and beautiful gifts from your students.

And inspiration from your friend’s poem.

You listen to old favorites,

observe super people,

and discover favorite new artists

in breathtaking spaces.

You might even have an epiphany inspired by your medicine cabinet.

You get a rare night to hang out with a dear friend.

And you get to know your neighbors!

Wait, what? Someone publishes a letterpress book of your paintings and writings?

Guess you better give a reading in an old warehouse as the setting sun puts you in the spotlight.

On quiet days, you watch the birds on your balcony—

or the construction across the river. You replace the cranes and construction crew with elephants.

You visit a lighthouse you’ve never been to, where a deer frolics in Lake Michigan.

And finally return to the lighthouse you’ve missed so much on the New Jersey shore.

You get to know your own city better—and share it with others!

You toast your favorite writer,

cheer on the world champs,

and celebrate more minor personal accomplishments.

You do research for your graphic novel and learn about old technology.

And you think about how we used to do other things.

Wait, what? You have an art show?

Guess you better buy a new dress! And bring your mom!

As the days get cooler, you read new stories.

And old ones. Which you draw… on an iPad? Even after you swore you wouldn’t? All analog, all the time! you said.

But one day, toward the end of the year, you’ll be staring out your window at work,

and you’ll realize that, after another year of daily art-making, you continue to develop all sorts of new philosophies

about art and literature and life.

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 →