The Value of a Daily Art Practice
daily art practice - turquoise

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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March 16, 2016


daily art practice - turquoise

Back in January, I thought I’d draw every day for a month as part of the Tiny Daily Habits course I was taking and that would be it–instead, it’s turned into a daily art practice.

And I have to admit, that calling it an “art practice” isn’t something that rolls trippingly off my tongue (or my fingers)–not at all. I’ve been making visual art of one type or another since at least 2011. That’s five years. And I’ve had periods where I’ve done a lot of drawing and painting and periods where I haven’t really done any. I’ve taken a lot of online art classes and finished very few of them.

Apparently, just like with planners, I need to do my own thing. Most online classes teach you how to draw like the instructor–which is fine, I suppose, but I’m tired of drawing dead-eyed girls with weird proportions. Dead-eyed white girls–the online art class community is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly affluent.

I took last year off from online art classes and was happier for it.

But I also wasn’t making much art, so when I saw an artist I follow in Instagram mention the Tiny Daily Habits course, I jumped at it. It wasn’t expensive and it was only a commitment for a month–a month isn’t hard. I got a tiny notebook and decided to make myself accountable by posting to Instagram, and much to my surprise, it’s developed into one of the things I do every day no matter what.

I’ve drawn a lot of circles. But I like drawing circles. And I can see that my composition is improving (slowly!) and that my circles are often deliberately wonky now instead of accidentally wonky. I’m having fun with colors and materials–I have an embarrassing number of unused watercolor journals that I’m aching to fill with paintings of circles with ink outlines. And now I know that I’ll get to them, eventually. I’m looking at the colors I gravitate towards and making plans to rework my watercolor palette to accommodate those colors instead of the ones I think I should have.

This is all immensely valuable–I feel like I’m developing a voice as a visual artist, and I am enjoying the hell out of the process. It doesn’t matter if I never sell anything or if my sketches never become more than they are, my enjoyment of the process and the result is more than sufficient.

And most valuable of all, it’s helping me quiet my inner critic–the one that tells me that no one cares about this stuff and why are you putting this stuff on the internet because someone’s going to come along and punch you in the face any moment and you don’t want to get hurt so you might as well just not–and you know what? That’s not exactly a helpful thing to let live in my head so most of the time I manage to tune it out. I’m hoping that I can transfer this new skill to other areas of my life. Because that would be awesome.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy my daily drawing and see where it takes me.

If you’d like to follow along, I post every day on Instagram.

daily art practice - landscape

daily art practice - diatoms

daily art practice - clouds

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  1. Ros

    I really like your art and have been very inspired by your daily practice of it. I didn’t know that Tiny Daily Habits was an actual course. It sounds like a great idea.

  2. Fiberaddict

    Your art is really, really cool! I want to be better at sketching…..I think I need to look at Tiny Daily Habits myself.

  3. Lee

    I have learned so much from two different years of daily practice (2007 and 2012 – I’m due for another next year). I still think of them as autodidact art school – finally using the materials I acquired, deciding how to use them, what I liked and didn’t, pushing the boundaries of them, and improving my vision and voice.

    I know they’re not circles, although they seem to be composed of circles, but the page of black line work looks like Ernst Haeckel’s drawings of foraminifera and other plankton. I love them a lot.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Lee, I used Haeckel’s drawings as inspiration for that piece! I’d forgotten how much I love drawing microscopic things until a couple of friends in Twitter mentioned Haeckel and diatoms to me. ?

      And you’re exactly right about paging the boundaries of materials etc–I’ve been doing a lot with marker and ink, but when I switch to a book with more robust paper, I’m going to play with other media, too.


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