The end of the year is a time for reflection. Resolutions have been made to loose weight, exercise more and save money. Usually they will be forgotten in time. As artists, the beginning of the new year is also a perfect time to re-evaluate artistic goals. These aspirations provide a purpose to our painting endeavors. Without them, we often find ourselves aimlessly drifting from one painting to the next. By setting goals and resolving to accomplish them, we push ourselves to greater artistic levels.
When setting goals, be realistic but don’t underestimate yourself. It is to the tenacious that the rewards eventually come. In artist Birge Harrison’s 1909 book, Landscape Painting, he devotes chapters 17 and 18 to the subjects of temperament and character. I am often reminded, and bolstered, by his words, “If I were myself asked to supply a formula for the making of an artist, my receipt would be, one part genius and nine parts hard work. I sometimes glance back to my student days and wonder what has become of all those clever and brilliant chaps over whose easels the rest of us used to hang in awe and admiration. One by one they have all dropped out. Things came too easy to them. They were not obliged to plug and grind, and so they never learned their trade. Their places have been taken by others—the plodders who stuck to their studies throughout the whole week with grim determination, dropping their brushes only on the stroke of twelve on Saturday.”
Look back over the last year and see how you did with your previous year’s goals. Feel good about the ones you accomplished and remind yourself of where you fell short. Re-evaluate your priorities for the coming year and make note of what is required to accomplish your goals. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be practical; you understand your skill level and aspirations better than anyone else. Even a couple hours of painting every week will add up to growth. You don’t have to be a full-time professional artist to find artistic fulfillment. Dreams and aspirations are wonderful but, if they are unrealistic, it is easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Stay truthful with yourself and resolve to be disciplined in pursuing your goals. Like most things in life, it is more about the journey. Be sure to enjoy it and stay tenacious.
My New Year artistic resolutions:
- To worry less about finishing and honor the stages of a painting.
- To work more in series around a theme to better explore the poetic nature of certain subjects.
- To paint larger in the studio and smaller on location.
- To sketch more on location.
- To reread old favorite art books.
- After watching Ken Burns PBS series on the National Parks, to visit them all.
Please post a comment sharing your personal artistic resolutions.