With the dawning of the new year, most people reflect upon what has been and eagerly usher in the new. This introspection provides an opportunity for optimistic goal-setting as well as providing a perspective on what has been accomplished. This is especially useful for artists. Creativity is not a linear activity. Minus personal reflection, it can be hard to know where to focus one’s future attentions. I separate my New Year goals into three artistic categories: craft, creation and career.
1. “Craft” is an evaluation of the technical aspects of painting. It is the skill set of being able to draw accurately, represent value relationships well, and effectively portray color. These are the muscles of painting. When you identify a weakness in one area, put conscious attention on addressing it. This can be compared to one of the most popular of New Year resolutions—weight loss and exercise. To facilitate this, many of us will lay out a disciplined diet or join a gym. Comparatively, the painter can implement a disciplined approach to painting or join a workshop/class. It is all the same.
2. “Creation” encompasses the purpose behind why we paint. What it is that we hope to represent to others. This is the poetic aspect of being an artist. There is no right or wrong in creativity, just purpose. It takes introspection and is as individual as the artist. If you feel that you are lacking direction or purpose in your work, set time aside for quiet contemplation. Sow down. Take a breath while painting. It is akin to listening instead of talking. Being more present is a good goal in life as well as in painting.
3. “Career” is where we see ourselves fitting in to the larger artistic community. Exposure and validation gained from national exhibitions and gallery representation serves a purpose in funding artistic pursuits as well as bolstering egos. The ups and downs of acceptance and rejection can be an emotional roller coaster but one with many rewards. This year, resolve to display your paintings as much as possible, select realistic venues, and methodically work towards your artistic career goals.
As I settle on my own artistic resolutions for the coming year, I am reminded of how similar the process is to stepping back from the easel while painting. If I don’t, it is easy to get lost in the minutia and lose sight of the big picture. As with all New Year’s resolutions, some will fall by the wayside and others will survive. But, as the saying goes, “It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.”
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