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Red letter day & Top tips for a bad day in the studio

Red letter day copy


Red Letter Day

Red letter day 80x80cm €2250 oil on canvas.

Top tips for a bad day in the studio

Yesterday was not a good day. I need to finish a large painting I’ve promised for an upcoming show but I just didn’t have it in me. It happens!


At my workshops I am often asked what to do when you have a bad day and just can’t paint. Now, I’m not talking about a major block just a bad day. So by way of example, here’s a look at how my work day went yesterday and some general thoughts around the problem.

Here’s what I did yesterday

  1. I went for walk
  2. I told myself to ‘just get the canvas prepared’ so I put on some talk radio and I painted the ground and while it dried I figured out the composition to paint and got everything ready.
  3. Then I had some tea & talked to a friend on the phone for 15mins or so.
  4. I told myself that considering how I was feeling that getting the underpainting started would be a good result. So I put on some music and started. I promised myself a tea break once I had a rough sketch done and I pushed myself to do it.
  5. Then I had a tea break.
  6. After that I decided that I should stop work on the painting. I was still in a fug and sometimes we need a little compassion. That said there’s always other stuff to do.


  • I put in an order for new supplies
  • Did some work on cataloguing paintings for the next two shows
  • Answered some emails
  • Photographed last weeks work
  • Did some work on upcoming workshops
  • and I started this post


So if you are struggling on a particular day here’s my top tips

  • Split your task/s up into small bites
  • Reward yourself after each part is achieved
  • Look after yourself and make the job as pleasant as possible (cheat if you can)
  • Keep going as long as you can but be realistic and don’t be a bully to yourself
  • When you need to stop, stop.
  • Take a break and then get on with something different.


Today is a new day

Today I’m feeling much better and I’m dying to see what that gold ground will look like under the blue I’ve planned for the background.


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