An Oil Painting a Day for 31 Days

Dueling Cherries

It’s a contest for the month of January by Strada Easel and I wanted an easel for plein air painting. So I signed up. So did 1268 other people. Only one or two of us will win an easel. We find out tonight at 9pm EST.

My own standard was to produce a unique, alla prima, oil painting each day. Surely I would evolve with this experiment. If you want to see all 31 of the paintings, they are posted on my Instagram.

Since it was cold out (by Florida standards) I painted inside — a still life each day. A lemon. An orange. Cherries. Each grocery run was a delight. Which fruits and vegetables might pose for a portrait? And then I wanted to get fancy. An apple on a folded tablecloth. Take note: folds are really difficult.

Folds are not easy to paint.

Next I wanted my vegetables to pose daring feats. Balance on this unique and expensive vase for the duration of my painting. Usually a couple of hours. Don’t move. Hold perfectly still. Some of those fruits began to sweat under the studio light. If the grape or cherry complained too much, then they were gone. Delicious!

By the third week, I was holding steady. But with 5 days to go, I found myself wondering what would I paint the next day. What palette would I use — the same as today? Should I put the paints in the freezer or just leave them out overnight? Funny things to think about that I didn’t usually give a second thought.

Guess who went missing?

Certain colors lured my brush to them more frequently. I liked to paint an object of intense blue or red or orange. Backgrounds could be dark and neutral, but after a day or two of a neutral background, I wanted something bold like a phthalo blue background. Whoa.

And some models were hard not to think about. The cherries, for instance. Would anyone notice if I painted one less … well, maybe two less cherries … than were in the original composition? They were so sweet. Incredibly delicious.

I’d made a habit of taking a photo of the setup once the painting was done. It was a surprise to me to realize one day that I had eaten all of the props by time I finished. There was nothing to take a photo of.

Kiwi and old fashioned creamer

Even the last day! A beautiful kiwi slice leaning against a small glass creamer (from days of old in cafeterias) was painted against a vibrant background. Ah, I enjoyed painting that background. A complementary color to the beautiful vibrant sweet green of the kiwi slice. In the very center the seeds formed around a wee heart. It was such an unusual slice I had selected. I adored it. But oddly, at the end of the session, when I went to take the photo, it was gone! Only the lonely glass creamer remained.

The joys and learning by painting for 31 days were not outweighed by the difficulties. Not everyone could devote the kind of time needed. By day 31, there were 837 contestants remaining. And I am pleased to say I am one. Now, to cross my fingers for the drawing tonight!


  1. What an array of fruits, vegetables, objects and backdrops. You are keeping the imagination alive while challenging yourself with techniques you are developing. I appreciated your reasons for eating the subject matter; it was sweating or one or two fewer items would do just fine!

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  2. What a wonderful telling of this journey you took, Judy! I am really proud you hung in there and did the work. I love looking at all of the results. Thank you for your endurance!

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