The Early Morning Club


Dear Artist,

Inspiration and motivation — how do you find it, where does it come from, how do you maintain it? Rankled by time and money considerations to say nothing of non-supportive others, some folks find it a tough order.

Like a lot of life’s struggles, the solution might just be a simple one. As many know, I’m a believer in effective habits and bold pump-priming. Right now I’m working with some painters in what we call “The Early Morning Club.” It’s very much like a prayer breakfast, except there’s no prayer and no breakfast. Active in several time zones, we meet virtually. People can start and stop when they wish, but frequent non-attendance can result in excommunication. If you’d care to join, here you go:

The minute you awaken, proceed like a zombie to your studio. Before your kettle has boiled, before you have checked your email, squeeze out and prepare your palette. Still in your jammies? Pajama painting is still not against the law. No matter how bleary or unwashed, start now — it’s the imperative of drying palettes. Don’t know what to paint? Doesn’t matter. Start anyway — bold, expressive, blocks of forms and colours are preferable to lines.

Our Patron Saint is Goethe: “Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed.”

Unless disabled, members generally stand during meetings. Dancing, jazzercise and even yoga are also encouraged — we are a cult known for exercising the cardio as well as the creative. Some of us sing nonsense or speak in tongues. We have yet to choose our anthem. “Land of Hope and Glory” and “La Marseillaise” have been put forward.

As the easel-dance progresses, ideas and motifs form and give clues to further directions. Like Boy Scout badges, stuff accumulates. As well as experiencing stimulation and excitement, members begin to feel a beautiful calmness, a connection with all of history’s dawnworkers, and the welcome procession of creative joy. Simply speaking, this miracle of private process is further understood, honed and mastered. The break for ablutions and breakfast comes a bit later. The meetings are well worth attending. Membership is free.

Best regards,


PS: “Rest not! Life is sweeping by; go dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Esoterica: The idea behind all of this is to re-jig the time-honoured system of waiting for inspiration, mood, or the appearance of subject matter. The act of art now becomes an event in which the timing is out of your control. The event happens and then the mood arrives. Like jumping into icy water, it’s not for everybody. For many, just thinking of jumping in makes fears surface. Some artists completely freeze up and can’t do it. For those who can, fears are neutralized, things get done and progress is made.


Working to find inspiration
by Mary Buergin, New Boston, NH, USA


oil painting
by Mary Buergin

I was just talking with a musician yesterday about this concept, but I didn’t know there was a club based on it! I truly believe if we want to continue to grow as artists, to compete in the highly competitive art market — we can’t afford to wait for inspiration. Sometimes it is there, and we all know what an amazing space that is to be in. But sometimes it is not there, and we still have to produce. We still have to grow and we still have to be working. I truly believe that just doing the work, touching the brush to the canvas or, in my friend’s case, touching his fingers to the keyboard, the creative process will carry us. I have produced some fine paintings during times when I wasn’t feeling particularly “inspired.” I could have easily waited another day, another week or maybe even another month for that inspiration to move me, but just starting the process and continuing to work in spite of a less than inspired mood, I was able create. Perhaps the difference between “inspiration” and simply “working hard” isn’t as big as we would tend to believe.

There is 1 comment for Working to find inspiration by Mary Buergin

From: Anonymous — Feb 01, 2011

Picasso said – Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.


Midnight artists
by Georgianne Fastaia, San Francisco, CA, USA


original painting
by Georgianne Fastaia

I work in a large open warehouse in San Francisco among 70 other artists. There are a few of us who arrive at midnight, who know where the 24 hour Starbucks is and who turn on their headphones and among the sleeping city, begin. I love to sleep there on my couch and then catch the clear unclouded grace of the first sun, the still, empty studio and myself struggling towards something I am happy with.




Starting early
by Coulter Watt, Quakertown, PA, USA


“Monopoly man”
oil painting
by Coulter Watt

I always proceed directly into the studio, often zombie-like in the morning. No need to wait for the kettle to boil, I start with yesterday’s coffee and the frugalness of leftovers. This lets me ignore the requirements of the day, actually blown off until early afternoon when the fresh coffee kicks in. Of course I don’t have children to shuttle about in the morning nor city lights and short skirts to keeping me up late at night. A cacophony of frogs is the only thing that disturbs my sleep. Ah, the rural life. If Goethe were alive today he might say something like, “Get ‘er done” or that stuff happens while you’re making plans.


Starting the day off right
by Margot Hattingh, South Africa


original painting
by Margot Hattingh

Your letter made me laugh, as I can completely relate to the ‘early morning club.’ I really need the fix first thing. Unless I have put in at least an hour’s painting time or Imagineering in my visual diaries before my son rises, I am discombobulated for the rest of the day. Cranky, frazzled and disconnected are words that come to mind. That time, straight from sleep, when I’m still in touch with my subconscious, is the most creative and important part of my day. It’s so important to me, that if, for whatever reason, I haven’t managed to start the day that way, I’ll sneak back into bed after my son has left for work, nap, and start the day all over again.


Stress and intensity
by Max Elliott, Banff, AB, Canada


“May Afternoon, Mt. Crowfoot”
oil painting
by Max Elliott

A quote from Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book, A New Earth, speaks to ideas of creation and stress:

“We are learning that the act of creation may involve energy of the highest intensity, but that it is not ‘hard work’ or stressful. We need to understand the difference between stress and intensity… Struggle or stress is a sign that the ego has returned, as are negative reactions when we encounter obstacles.” (pp. 289-90)

Tolle’s message speaks to me loud and clear in the midst of preparing for a solo show while juggling financial, relationship, and ongoing daily concerns. Stress makes life, and art, hard work. Intensity lightens and expands possibilities.


Recovery efforts
by Faith Puleston, Herdecke, Germany


“Heart broken”
original painting
by Faith Puleston

I’ve rejoined the early morning club. I was on the way to bed, when I was mentally struck by the stack of hopeless case efforts and realized that the way forward is indeed just slapping paint on willy-nilly. I grabbed a previously deleted painting — now sporting a rather horrible blue surface after smother-priming with left-over acrylics — and sloshed a layer of white paint on it. Exhilarated by this procedure, I then poured, shook and squeezed some liquid acrylics over it, did some shunting around with a water spray and rounded the whole thing off with well-directed clouds of dry red and black pigment! Then I slept for nearly 8 hours, as if a weight had been lifted off my mind!

I think I’m going to find an abstract painting in that conglomeration of color and free design. And that really is an achievement. Abstract painting is something I can only do successfully (I know that’s relative) when I have a surfeit of mental energy. Painting without the initial restrictions of line, shape and form seems to release my creativity more than painting a particular image, though I enjoy figurative work when going through a calm phase or working in other creative fields where abstract ideas would tend to push all else to one side.


Development of a painting
by Louise Francke, NC, USA


“Aviator Jack”
oil painting
by Louise Francke

So far inspiration and motivation have not been a problem for me. My mind seems to go from the first inkling of an idea to the broadening of it until it becomes full fledged. I do tend to work in series thus exhausting an idea and moving on only to return at a future date when I have more to say on that theme. Currently, I’ve been very busy with my first Grandchild. Want to leave something behind for him to know me in the future. First there was the child, then the quilt with various biplanes. From there it was a Google search for the old aviator’s helmet with goggles. It was from there to Snoopy and changing it to my Dalmatian. And on and on… until there was an oil painting.



Finding time
by Julie Williams, Sydney, Australia

Oh, what bliss it must be to awaken and to have only to think of one’s self — no breakfast to prepare for hungry mouths, no school lunches to make, no uniforms to iron, no traffic to contend with on the hour round trip of ‘dropping’ family where they need to be, only to return to housework and the office. I look forward to the day when I might be afforded the luxury of being able to find “inspiration” in the early morning! Will start saving a few old pairs of jammies now in anticipation!

There is 1 comment for Finding time by Julie Williams

From: Brigitte Nowak — Jun 06, 2008

Time isn’t found: it is made. I’ve done the whole family-raising (two kids, two dogs, one husband), full-time job routine – and it was a stressful job, emails at midnight, in to the office early to deal with issues, etc. At the same time, I painted at night, after the kids were asleep, and exhibited regularly. It was important to me, and I refused to make excuses for not having the time to do it. Paint whenever you can, at night, or wake up an hour early. Let the kids know that after 9 p.m. (or whenever) is “Mummy’s time”, order pizza once a week or make meals ahead and pop them into the oven. It involves setting priorities, but please, don’t whine about not “finding” time.


Jump in, get dirty, see what happens
by Helen Zapata, Phoenix, AZ, USA


“Ancient Voices”
original painting
by Helen Zapata

My gosh, if I were to wait until inspiration, mood, or the appearance of subject matter struck, I’d get very little done! I go to bed at night thinking of my painting, and I get up in the morning thinking of my painting. Painting is the first and last thing on my mind, and takes up most of the day itself. I’ve been thinking of proceeding to the studio first thing in the morning, but am a bit afraid that if I start doing that, then my family will see nothing of me at all. But each day I plan ahead to be sure I get my studio time in. I don’t wait for inspiration… I simply go to the studio and begin to work.

If I’m in the middle of a Fear Freeze, instead of letting it keep me from painting, I burst through that fear with Boldness. It’s a war that I intend to win at any cost. I’ll crank up the music and starting flinging paint at my canvas. I dive in with both hands and just pour myself and the paint onto the canvas. I may well end up with a royal mess. I can easily emerge covered in paint from head to toe… but I will emerge victorious! Do not allow your fear to stop you! It’s only paint, it’s only canvas, it’s only paper and pen, it’s only clay… whatever it is, it’s not so precious that it’s best left on the shelf. Jump in, get dirty, and see what comes out!


Creativity begets creativity
by Veronica Funk, Airdrie, AB, Canada


“Caramel Macchiato”
oil painting
by Veronica Funk

Recently, on the encouragement of a friend, I began A Painting a Day (well, Monday to Friday) and blogging them. Though I don’t always paint a 6″x 8″ oil (which is my chosen size/medium for this project), I am finding that I am painting every day and can’t wait to get at it. It makes me focus on colour, form and light, and if I feel stuck on one of my larger pieces (30″x 40″), it seems to help me get un-stuck. I remember being taught in art school that creativity begets creativity. It’s definitely true. The more I paint, the more ideas I have, and I seem to run out of hours in the day to do all that I dream of. It’s a wonderful life.


Starting the day positive
by Richard Smith, Victoria, BC, Canada

Having diagnosed myself last year with having a walloping case of ADD, which I found out by following a link in your letters, I decided to stop waking myself up in the morning by channel surfing through the TV, gorging on all the overnight disasters. It did wake me up but didn’t put me in the best frame of mind, so I quit. But this didn’t work out all that well because my pre-frontal cortex needs to be stimulated to get moving. And so along you come and suggest the most obvious solution, belly up to my sculpture bench and mess about until the brain gets functioning. I’m going to try it tomorrow and see if it works. Once again a great suggestion comes through.


Everyday painting
by Susanne Kelley Clark, Dallas, TX, USA


“Wild Rivers, Dusk”
oil painting
by Suzanne Kelley Clark

When I was ingrad school, a teacher gave us an assignment which forced us to paint every day. First it was paint a self-portrait every day for a month. Then it was paint a shiny object every day for a month. After completing these assignments, I was tired of looking at myself and so began devising more interesting poses using multiple mirrors, and for the first time developed confidence using paint. I lost the fear of the blank canvas; there was now a momentum and rhythm to my energy in the studio. It basically taught me how to PAINT. There was no particular time of day when I would paint. The painting session had to work around school and work and the sessions generally were 2 to 3 hours, no more. The paint on the palette never dried up.


Remembering Cecil Collins
by Sheila Griffin, Hitchin, UK, USA


mixed media
by Sheila Griffin

Your letter reminded me of a time when a group of friends would come by on Friday evenings to my place. The main idea was to draw or paint but not to be serious. It was a social evening as much as anything. We produced some of our best work, laughing, talking, dancing and listening to music. We also took turns modeling for the group.

These gatherings were inspired by classes some of us had attended in London during the ’80s. We were very fortunate to be in Life Drawing classes given by the late Cecil Collins, RA. When I started I hadn’t painted since I was at school. His classes were so popular that I had to queue overnight to be sure of getting a place. We drew from the nude model. We moved with the model to music, held the position of the model then drew with whichever instruments he told us to. Chinese brushes, reed pens, pencils, red chalks, charcoal and Chinese ink we mixed ourselves, in 7 tones. Following his instructions we used our left and right hands as this helped bypass the mind.


“Head of a man”
oil painting, 1957
by Cecil Collins

During these lessons Cecil told us that his teaching “was about the study of the real nature of creativity, through the use of natural organic instruments.” He spoke of making oneself vulnerable as the only way to change. In this way we could enter individually, or as a group, the creative flow. When this did happen it was an unforgettable experience — the drawing seemed to ‘do itself.’ This year is Cecil Collins Centenary Year and lectures on his work, exhibitions and meetings are taking place throughout the summer and autumn.





Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The Early Morning Club



From: Andrea Hazel — Jun 03, 2008

I guess I’ve been a member of the Early Morning Club the past few weeks, and I didn’t even realize there was such a club! I stumble up the stairs to my studio over my garage every morning, as the brushes are up there screaming my name when I awake! My husband follows a while later with a cup of coffee and a glass of juice, then disappears. Some days the mundane intrudes and I have to cut painting time short – I don’t always make it back up to the studio later, but I’m happy for my early morning peace.

From: Anonymous — Jun 03, 2008

I love this idea. I’ve had the urge to do this but have no idea why I’ve resisted it. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that it made me smile and I plan to start tomorrow morning.

From: Marti O’Brien — Jun 03, 2008

Your letter made me smile… I just don’t know if I can follow the rules of the club to the letter- if I have my coffee first and ablutions, can I still be a member? I agree totally with getting at the work first thing in the morning. Just start blobbing on paint and inspiration follow.

From: Vernita Bridges-Hoyt — Jun 03, 2008

Unbeknownst until I received your letter, I’ve been a member of the early morning club for years. Throughout the years, I’ve found the muse in early mornings in my home studio. Only in the past year have I taken a studio away from home, yet still if I get up and go early mornings, the muse is always there. Not so later in the day. I have missed the pajama painting found in the home studio in the ‘very’ early mornings, but I’ve remedied that by keeping a set of pastel pencils and a sketchbook here at the house just to keep me in “The Early Morning Club.”

From: Madhu Saxena — Jun 03, 2008

Your letters are very inspirational. Thanks for sending.

From: Jarman Price — Jun 03, 2008

Sitting listlessly in front of a pile of dirty laundry, surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam tracing family vapor trails around the house, wondering what to do first (clear out the laundry room, answer business inquiries, reply to urgent emails, get to the post office to pay the bills, call people back, clear the breakfast detritus, strip the beds or water the veggies)….your words have given me the lift I need to do…. none of the above.
I shall PAINT!

Thank you for your wonderful emails. Please keep them coming.They are warm, human, erudite and apposite in every sense.

From: Alicia De Lima — Jun 03, 2008

Must admit my life is very much like today’s letter. Nothing exist except color early in the morning, also all my nighties are stained with paint. I believe in throwing 2 colors on a board (I’m a watercolorist) see the effects and quickly make a painting out of it.

From: Paula Timpson — Jun 03, 2008

early morning club

early morning is

the timelessness

in which we create



hopes poems


From: Virginia Wieringa — Jun 03, 2008

I’ll join your club- actually I think I’ll start my own- mine will have coffee and prayer along with the paint!

From: Kim Rody — Jun 03, 2008

I’ve always been caught up in dad-gum paperwork. I’ve tried blocking out certain hours of the day to paint, trying to see how many days in a row I could paint, etc. etc.; all in vain. I finally found my solution: Make coffee, go to my desk, set a virtual timer on the computer for 2 hours, work on paperwork like a banshee until the alarm goes off. Then it all gets shut off until the next day. I’ve been painting every day. Before, there was always something at my desk calling me. Now, when it calls, I write it down and do it in the morning. I’ve got to go, I’m 20 minutes and 46 seconds into my work day, and i have a lot of paper to push before 10 am.

From: Jeannette Seger — Jun 03, 2008

Please sign me up for official membership in “The Early Morning Club” although I believe I have been a member and didn’t know it. I’ve established a habit of painting in the early a.m. hours before the sun comes up. Finding my creative juices are flowing much better at that time.

From: Keiko Couch — Jun 03, 2008

I was grinning as I read The Early Morning Club and that pajama painting is still not against the law. I get up at 5:00am and make a cup of instance coffee (making good drip coffee comes later) and go to my tiny cubby hole sketch room is my morning routine. Then I fiddle with my watercolor paintings for about 1 1/2 hours. I work for myself during the day so the early morning is the only time to stay in art for now. I believe I am a good member of The Early Morning Club!

From: Jennifer Stenberg — Jun 03, 2008

This one’s inspiring for me, only inside today. The mosquitoes are brutal.

From: Gillian Bull — Jun 03, 2008

You must have been hearing me and my moans and feelings that I can’t possibly call myself an artist. Artist friends all seem to say, ‘I have so many ideas and so little time to paint them all’ I, on the other hand, have no ideas but this urge to move my arm around with colors on the other end. I do, however, fill pages of my sketch book, with color doodles nearly every evening. I like them but they are of little consequence in the big wide world. I suppose that should not matter!
I did start a self portrait the other afternoon, because I wanted to try a limited palette that Daniel Green talked about in Art International. Black, white, cad red light and cad yellow medium. Wow, what fun.

From: Marina Petro — Jun 03, 2008

I’ve had both Goethe quotes mentioned below taped on my easel for years! After today, I will probably include them in my email signature as well.
I paint constantly in ‘my head’ and no longer need inspiration to paint. I just begin and it all flows from there. I am thankful for this because I’d never paint if I waited for inspiration and ‘life’ to settle down…it never does…at least not in my life. Years ago I began experimenting with ‘intuitive’ painting and it has been of great assistance. When I use this process, I just begin to paint, attempting to keep my mind clear of everything other than simply putting brush to paint to canvas…both mindful and mindless simultaneously. It is an amazing adventure and the images revealed are a glimpse into the deeper unconscious. I’ve just begun to teach ‘intuitive painting’ and love sharing this process with the intention of helping others to free their creative spirit.

From: Jan — Jun 03, 2008

What a surprise to learn I’ve been a member of the ‘Early Morning Club’ and am not alone in not only having company while jumping into the ‘icy waters’ but getting paint splattered on my nightclothes! I’ve often told artist friends, “Painting is like having a baby, if you think about it too much, you may never get around to doing it”.
I should mention I’ve found Jimmy Buffett music keeps me on my feet and feeling happy while I paint. Note: the Margaritas come later

From: Helena Tiainen — Jun 03, 2008

I am absolutely the opposite when it comes to time of creativity from you. The idea of a breakfast creative club gives me the chills. I like to create later in the day, night time being the very best time for me. I find that the mass conscious mind is more silent during the night making it easier for me to really hear what is going on. I take it that you live in the country or in the suburbs where nature is close and plentiful? I live in the SF Bay Area in West Berkeley and the hustle and bustle of the industry and traffic in the environment can negatively effect my creativity which calls for really being in touch with the more ethereal fields. Maybe I would be a more morning person if I lived in the country as well. However, I am able to paint during the day also, but it does not most of the time bring me the same kind of intimacy that night time does. I guess we all have our own inner clocks that we need to respect. It is not always easy to be a night person in a daytime world.

From: Bill Skuce — Jun 03, 2008

Thanks for your inspiring invitation to join, “The Early Morning Club”. Over the past few months I’ve been answering the question, “How’s the painting going?” with “, It’s been nearly a year since I’ve painted”, then, “…it’s been a whole year since I’ve painted”, and yesterday to an artist friend I excused my entry into the big local juried show this year with, “You know, it’s been well over a year since I’ve painted.”
I’m sick of my excuses. Lately I’ve been wondering, quite secretly, “How do I get started again? Where do I begin?” Your invitation carries an inherent challenge. I accept! I love the thought that I’m joining the “Easel-dancers”, the “Dawnworkers”. Today I dust off the tubes, locate a palette, find some medium, ready the brushes, prepare the studio and try out some anthems. Hail Goethe!

From: Margo — Jun 03, 2008

Forget not those of us who draw more than we paint! We’re the line dancers. If feeling uninspired and lacking in clear direction, I like to begin with big gestural squiggles done with a handful of pencils or crayons and I go at it with both hands. This way, that way, upside down and all around. Then comes the business of fine tuning. (Aaargh! what to do with all those lines?!). All this, often, in my jammies. Early, yes, but never before breakfast as it can go on till way past lunch hour and a girl has to have her protein and a few cups of tea to keep her going.

From: John Zebb — Jun 03, 2008

These letters are great. I usually save up a batch, stream some classical music, and read and research for an hour or two. Good discipline and practice.

From: Ghenia Bogun ( — Jun 03, 2008

I am also a Early Morning Club member ( on most days), if it is raining, my joints are swollen and I tend to sleep in. That’s OK too.
I have a question that none of the many painters, artists, teachers and know-it-alls in my section of the universe have an answer to, and I am hoping you can shed some light on it.

Here it goes: Is it possible to re-work a 20+ year old oil painting?

I have one that has taken me this long to understand where I went wrong with it and I want to repaint parts of the painting. It has never been varnished and, obviously, is thoroughly dry by now.

I do not see any crackling or other damages from poor media mixing with only the wearing away of paint from the edges of the unframed canvas from many years of moving it from one place to another.

From: Sharon Hergenrother — Jun 03, 2008

I’ve been an Early Morning Pajama Painter for over a year now. I have three kids, one being a lively 3-year old who demands much attention all day. I have found that early in the morning before anyone else gets up is really the only time when I can actually get some quiet time to create and have the energy to do so. I like the idea of just painting forms and color to get started if there is no burning idea to conquer. I can’t wait to try that out for a different approach.

From: Allegreta Blau — Jun 03, 2008

I think you are misinformed about me. I am not an artist, I am a writer and a musician — however, what you say is inspirational no matter what form of “art” one pursues.
If you think I belong in this group, let me know. My cousin is an excellent artist (and sells), my mother painted, my father painted and other members of my family do. I painted one painting — I like it and it hangs in my living room, but that’s it!

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Jun 03, 2008

I would first have to quit my The Late Night Club. If I have been a good girl painter, The Club awards me with a good night glass of wine – that’s why they lose very few members.
One of the best advices on the subject of simplicity can be found in Stephen King’s book On Writing. Never add anything, but always subtract from the initial draft – and subtract significantly. Our minds are overcrowded with useless details which we have to weed out to uncover the beauty of the language.

From: Sally Ogletree — Jun 03, 2008

Bold, expressive blocks of form….I can do that!..I have been so depressed for the last two weeks since falling on my roller blades (first time in ten years and I’m 61)..however, I broke my right wrist, I’m right handed, it’s now in a cast, and I have a slight fracture to my left elbow (no Cast) just enough strength to pick up a paint brush. I need to paint but not really having done much abstract, (a few landscapes) but never left handed, I just could not get motivated. I think I will join the ‘Breakfast Club’ and get started….

From: Jane Barnard — Jun 03, 2008

Thanks for the latest letter on jammy-painting (the breakfast club)! Those of us who do all that other stuff first need to hear this BADLY! I will take the challenge, with one exception : I grind the coffee the night before, because I gotta have java first.

From: Laurie Landry — Jun 04, 2008

An early morning club – what a great idea! What I do the night before, is prepare my palette surface (disposable freezer paper taped down to glass palette), lay out some tubes and brushes, and canvas – set it up on the easel, so there’s no fiddling around trying to find something or setting up something. It’s just squeeze and paint. As for coffee, I put water in, and grinded coffee in the basket, and all it requires is just turn on the switch as soon as you get up and walk past the coffee machine onroute to the studio.

From: Louise Lemay — Jun 04, 2008

My problem is that I have too many ideas. They end up in an idea book and in my head it feels like the lineup at the deli counter where everyone has to take a number. I like big canvases but I settle for 3′ X 5′ and it takes me about one year to do a painting. That includes many sketches and research. By then I have merged with it so much I won’t let anyone see it for a while.
I also have this fantasy of “going Pollock” . But , no space for the resulting mess. Mini “Polllocks” is limiting and frustrating.
I enjoy your correspondence first thing in the morning with coffee.

From: Dave Parkin — Jun 05, 2008

When I read about the breakfast club I had an image of everyone linked up by Video cam, watching everyone else paint, sing and dance, has anybody done this? Thanks for the website, and its often simple and inspiring words.

From: Jave — Jun 05, 2008
From: Wendy Head — Jun 05, 2008
From: Cheryl Braganza — Jun 05, 2008

I have recently returned to Montreal after many months of travel to soak up inspiration, or so I believed. Then it happened – I mean, nothing happened. I spent days staring at empty canvases and contemplating how inadequate I was. So that’s it. I joined your Early Morning Club. I have stuck the Goethe saying on top of my easel and sleepily belt out the words opera fashion (actions included) in my favourite blue floral nightdress that doubles up as a paintbrush dabber. But I must have my Tetley’s tea ! Since then, something’s working. In the past few days, I have managed to raise my self-esteem. Creativity is simmering. I am about to burst forth. It must have to do with the universality of the EMC, sharing the dawn and the swell of the tide with so many others, conquering time. I will be excommunicated when I die.

From: Theresa Bayer — Jun 05, 2008

Well Robert,
What I wanna know is, you can just go in there and slap paint on the canvas half asleep without a preconceived idea in mind? Just improvise something? I can do that sculpting in clay (but I’d rather eat something first), then again no worries about composition, foreshortening or chiaoscuro. So is that really what you do at the crack of dawn? Talk about six impossible things before breakfast…

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Jun 06, 2008

Intrigued by the concept behind the “Early Morning Club”. It’s a great idea. Maybe not the morning part for some of us. I’m not a morning person, though I do like to get up early, just before light. But not to paint. If I try to paint too early, it just messes up my whole day. I need those early hours just to become me, ruminate, feed on the peace, do mindless chores, read a bit. Then my painting time later in the day (sometimes in my jammies for a couple of hours before bed) is productive and satisfying.

From: Jacobina — Jun 06, 2008

Instead of the morning club as a club I have been practising early morning reality. I open my eyes, drink my coffee and go out to paint my surroundings outdoors, whatever that is. Grumpy at first, (why the hell do I have to do this) as I am waking up I find myself in a timeless space, beautiful as the sun rises. Cars are rushing by, the world slowly awakes to new duties as I progress my landscape painting. It is not really important what I paint but That I paint. The following day I will find something better, more inspiring perhaps. I don’t have to drive anywhere, I meet my neighbors and my community fellow man might even buy my work. I think this would work anywhere, city or country environment. There is absolutely something spontaneous and may be subconcious about painting being the first thing you do.

From: Carolyn Smith — Jun 06, 2008

thought I was the only one who painted in their pajamas! I really don’t think of washing or eating until I am well on my way to an actual painting. I get the coffee ready the night before so, all I have to do is push a button. In my state of sleep painting, this becomes my favorite and most productive part of the day. You must have been watching me dance to the radio for paintercize exercises to rev up my brush strokes!

From: Caroline J Coughlin — Jun 06, 2008

I am inspired…I am in such a funk lately not knowing if I really want to continue my art. But this early morning club has really turned me on. Art for art’s sake…isn’t that what we all should remember….when I am down in my studio I love it and have to keep reminding myself that I love painting and drawing because it really frees up my mind not that I have to create a masterpiece. Thanks so much for your ongoing letters and information.

From: Esther J. Williams — Jun 09, 2008

I have been a member of the early morning club all of my life, until lately. I had four children, two are grown and gone and with 11 years between them and my present girls, life has changed dramatically. Teenage girls are all consuming to raise, I have to wake up at 6:20am to get one off to school and then come back home and get the other one off at 7:30am. When I come home, I do computer work from my other job, selling collectibles on eBay. In the afternoon, I make the same repetitous trips to the school. That’s four trips a day! I am never done carting them around between malls and friends houses either. Now, I feel when these girls move on to college, I will have the mornings, days and evenings back. I still belong to the artists who still must paint club and just do it at ALL hours. The house looks like a tornado went through it most of the time, unless I have a guest coming over. Then I am performing crash cleaning or just shoving things into the garage. I am sitting here too long in fact writing this, I have a wet painting from yesterday that is calling me. Somehow I make the deadlines for art exhibitions, shows and gallery needs. It’s a challenge, but I am so glad to be a working artist whatever the time of day it is. It takes commitment to the trade.

From: Bob Ragland — Jun 13, 2008

In reference to the painting a day thing, I always think of Georgio Morandi and Robert Kulicke. Series work always gives me painting subjects and projects to look forward to doing. Often I get into the studio without any plan, I paint what’s there. I have sketchbooks and photos available also. If this sounds redundant please forgive. Sincerely, Bob Ragland.PS-Art Saves Lives.

From: Fred Bell — Aug 09, 2008

Getting started is the most important part of any task, I believe. And routines are very helpful. The part of this whole thing I find hardest is facing the marketing end of things. Art is easy, selling it is a mystery.

From: Sarah Hollier — Aug 29, 2008

Hi early morning clubbers. Spring has returned to the far north coast of Australia the birds wake me up in time to rejoin the early morning jamma painters once again. Water colour is my medium mostly. Love the letters and the feeling of being part of a group. Thank you

From: Deborah Droog — Nov 08, 2008

Early Morning Club is a interesting proposition, since I am a night owl. I have always hated mornings. At this point in my life, I may try it starting tomorrow morning…why not, Maybe I will paint better in my sleep. My husband laughs whenever I am moving around early and suggests that it is a fluke. I have attempted early rising but for some unknown reason I just can’t make it happen with any regularity.






White Canoe

oil painting
by Peter Doig, Trinidad


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Tomm Fennell of Blairstown, NJ, USA who wrote, “Thank you for mentioning The Early Morning Club, but you neglected to mention how to join.”

(RG note) Thanks, Tomm. Would-be members apply by nominating themselves, accepting themselves, sorting out the rules to suit themselves, attending or not attending themselves, and empowering themselves as they see fit.

And also Mary Jane Cross of Newport, NH, USA who wrote, “It is 5:20 a.m. and a great deal of work is done. I already belong.”

And also Joseph Jahn of Denmark who wrote, “I’ve always replied to amateurs and pros alike, just paint, work, and it will start.”

And also Frank Gordon of Giggleswick, UK who wrote, “New work usually arises from work in progress — a sort of domino effect — it can start any time of day.”

And also Paul Uhler of Dallas, TX, USA who wrote, “After reading “The Early Morning Club,” I was reminded, for some reason, of the powerful active meditations devised by Osho (a.k.a. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). The activity, sometimes vigorous, creates a meditative state that he calls ‘no mind.’ ”

And also Edward Vincent of Sydney, Australia who submitted a Shakespeare quote: “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

And also Julie Nilsson of Ft. Collins, DC, USA who wrote, “Your club is exactly what I need but, the question is, ‘How will I stop, once the painting starts?’ It may be that I won’t, it may be that all the others will have to wait… a good plan I’d say! Thanks for the invitation.”

And also Frank Hills who wrote, “May I suggest the Mexican song Las Mañanitas as our anthem?”

Proposed lyrics for anthem, Thanks to everyone who suggested music and lyrics. Here are two examples of original lyrics written especially for the Club…

Leza Macdonald of White Rock, BC, Canada

I’d like to paint a masterpiece
While in my jammies that are still sleep creased
But the lines I draw
Even though they’re strong
They have no form
Will they last this song?

(Sung to the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen)


Tom Pirozzoli of Goshen, NH, USA

“Money Isn’t Time”

If you think money can buy
Buy you back your time
If you think money can buy
Buy you back your time
You’re out of your mind.




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