Why an Oil Painter ditched her oils

A month ago I decided to make space in my life to make. As a mother to a toddler (2 in February?!) and a full time art teacher in public school, my ability to spend hours in my home studio crafting oil paintings just isn’t feasible. I was sick of being a victim about the whole thing. Maybe you’ve done that to yourself as well.
Everyone else has the time to make art.
When is it my turn? If only I had the money to make art full time. If only I taught part time. If only I had free daycare.

So I pulled out my calendar and took an honest look at the time I had and made a commitment. I would give myself 10 Days. I had winter break coming up and new that I’d have some daycare filled days and no teaching. Thus, the 10 Day Plein Air Challenge was born.

10 Day Plein Air Challenge Affirmations


















Day 1:

I learned this board wasn’t prepped for oils. Oops! Lesson learned. This is the bike path near my house. Beautiful day but the oil just SUNK into my support.

Sale alert!: This piece just sold and I couldn't be more excited! *oil on board*

Day 2:


Tried out a canvas paper which I prepped with napthol red acrylic. The surface worked better. This is my actual backyard. *oil on canvas paper*

Day 3:


Same support, different technique! I was getting frustrated with my blues sinking into my support so I used an impasto technique to build up my color quickly. Again, my actual backyard.

*oil on canvas paper*

Day 4:


I had about an hour on this day and knew I wouldn’t have time to set up my easel and palette so I did a quick pen and ink sketch of a Croton plant that was in my backyard. *pen, watercolor on watercolor paper*

Day 5:


This was Christmas Day! I received my travelogue sketch book and watercolor set. It was instant love! This is my parents Christmas tree. *watercolor on paper*

Day 6:


Citrus imagery is my favorite! My husbands family comes from a long line of citrus grove farmers, so I couldn’t resist painting this on our flight to Puerto Rico. Technically this was a plane air painting because I love a good pun.

Sale Alert!: this piece sold over the weekend! yay!

*watercolor on paper*

Day 7:


What a beautiful beach to paint! This was Hatillo, Puerto Rico. There were wild horses on the beach and the water was crystal clear. Take me back!

*watercolor on paper*

Day 8:


I caught the dreaded flu after returning from PR and was bed-ridden with a fever for a week. It really put a damper on my Plein air dreams. After two weeks I had gained some energy and was able to paint from bed. This was my first attempt back. Ellipses are tricky and I love to paint shiny, texty, bright things. This checked all those boxes for me!

*watercolor on paper*

Day 9:


Still bed-ridden, hey-o. I loved the opportunity to paint these violet-reds. Also, I wanted to revisit how to paint the metallic tops of cans better and I believe I accomplished that On the second go around. *watercolor on paper *


Day 10:


My last day! I made it...still sick and bed ridden. I added a second object, my daughters Elton John sunglasses. When I was pregnant with her I was SO sick and drank so much ginger ale. This can was still in our pantry. Ginger Ale is still triggering for me. Uck!

*watercolor on paper*


What I learned from the 10 Day Challenge


  • There is something really freeing giving yourself an allotted time to start and finish something! There's no revisiting artwork. There isn't time to go back and re-work. In most cases, the baby is up from the nap and THAT'S TIME.

  • We put ourselves in the box. I call myself an "oil painter" because it's a way of classifying what I do but when that term doesn't suit me, it's okay to just be someone who creates things. If "being an oil painter" prevents me from making than it's time to change my own narrative. Does it mean I won't ever paint with oils again? No, let's not get tragic!

  • I CAN make space in my life, if I'm dedicated and disciplined, to paint, just maybe not in the same ways as before I became a mother/FT teacher.

  • You all have been so supportive! At your encouragement I posted most of my paintings in my shop and immediately sold 2. I couldn't believe it! If you're interested in seeing the paintings still available in my shop, go here.

  • I'm already starting the next 10 Days! Can I make it to 30? 50? 100? Stay tuned, y'all! <3


I'll be spending the next 10 Days focusing on my beautiful collection of teacups. Follow my progress on IG here.


*mwah!*



TAMPA, FL    ashleynicoleartistry@gmail.com      813-409-1207 

copyright Ashley Cassens 2017-20