How long would you say it would take to create a quality oil painting? For the less talented among us the answer is probably something like “a million billion years.” But even for genuinely skilled people out there, the answer would have to be something like “a few weeks” or “a few days.” L.A.-based Kevyn Schmidt has been pulling it off in just one day. Less than a day, really. And he’s vowed to pull it off every day for the entire month of June.
“I came up with the idea at a Bernie Sanders rally,” Schmidt told The A.V. Club. “I agreed to do a live painting there—which I had never done before—and it came out better than expected in only about three hours. I thought, ‘You know, I could probably do a new painting every day.’”
So, he collected a pile of canvases, girded his fingers for a whole lot of cramps, and on the first of the month, he got to work. The first of 30 was a portrait of of Kit Harington as Jon Snow from HBO’s Game Of Thrones.
Cinema and television seem to be his twin muses. He’s already hit upon Game Of Thrones, Back To The Future, and Star Trek, but he promises that Star Wars and Twin Peaks are coming. “I have a huge list of movies and shows I want to paint. It keeps getting longer and longer,” he said. “I typically know the moment or actor I want to paint immediately, some part or character will just jump out.”
Each 10 x 10 painting takes somewhere from eight to 10 hours, he says. But the image from Wet Hot American Summer (above)—which he calls “the best moment in all of film”—took 13. “That was a long day,” he said. “Since I’ve started, it’s really taken over my life,” he confesses. “My girlfriend misses me (and we live together).”
Until relatively recently, Schmidt had a morale-crushing full time customer service job fixing people’s computers and smartphones, “being yelled at mainly because people forgot their own password.”
And then he fell into an old hobby. “I would paint when I got home, on my days off, whenever I could… even if I didn’t feel like it. I realized this was how I wanted to spend my life,” he explains on the Patreon page he created to support his current 30-day project. “So, I took the plunge. I quit my soul sucking, corporate job and started selling my art for a living.”
This idea is a way to jumpstart his career, while hopefully generating enough capital to afford all the supplies he’ll need. “Since I’ve started, I’ve noticed a lot more love on social media, and sales have increased slightly,” he told The A.V. Club. “It’s helped a bit, and each day can still be a struggle, but having the freedom to paint every day will always be better than working for the man.”
In addition to the eight impossibly good completed works from this month that are already on his Instagram feed, he has a good number of older works—like Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne above and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton below—available as prints via Etsy.