A Pastelist’s New Year Resolutions | Setting Creative Goals

The dawning of the New Year provides a perfect time for many artists to step back from the day-to-day exercise of painting and evaluate how their artistic journey is progressing. When you paint regularly, it’s easy to become micro-focused: The current painting on the easel is the only thing that matters, making it hard hard to see your overall artistic standing. When the painting is going well, you’re the most gifted person to ever use pastel. When it’s not, you’re the idiot with a stick of pigment in your hand.


A New Year’s pastel toast—Cheers!

Make an Artistic Road Map: Personally, I use the beginning of the new year to evaluate, adjust and set new artistic resolutions or goals. The term resolution implies a commitment. By making one we resolve to accomplish something. We have a purpose in mind and diligently work towards that goal. This is not to say that we can’t follow the artistic muse when the siren-call of inspiration occurs. Often our greatest growth comes from a seemingly accidental painting adventure. Without exploration, painting can become mundane and predicable, but the most accomplished of artists eventually get back on course or decide to adjust their final destination. Without an artistic road map (a purpose), we are just driving around aimlessly. It may be a delightful trip but if we do it everyday, we ultimately never get anywhere.

Set Creative Goals: When setting creative goals, separate them into two categories: one based on career aspirations and the other focused on technical abilities. Career goals are the things you hope to accomplish with your artwork; it’s the recognition that may affirm the legitimacy to your work and bolster your confidence as an artist. Entering exhibitions and pursing gallery representation are two examples. Technical objectives are our goals to become better at our craft. Acknowledging weaknesses and resolving to strengthen them bolsters confidence, making it easier to reach career goals. Working with accomplished artists, studying art books and diligently practicing the craft of painting can be a means of doing this. The two categories work in unison.

Create Visual Reminders: Like other personal New Year resolutions, such as diet and exercise, the best of intentions frequently fall by the wayside as the year unfolds. So, I make a visible notation in my studio on a white marker board. Whenever I enter that space, I’m reminded of what I would like to accomplish. This list is broken down into short- and long-term goals. These are constantly evolving throughout the year with additions and subtractions as circumstances dictate. The list includes items that are practical and others that are wishful. This allows for accomplishment and motivation throughout the year. IAPS president, pastelist Liz Haywood-Sullivan, has shared that she places her artistic aspirations in her sketchbook, which she frequently uses. Having this constant reminder is a good way of staying artistically focused and not allowing oneself to wander too far afield.

In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing one of my artistic resolutions: to resolve (finish) more paintings. It’s one that I am sure many of you have on your list.

Happy New Year everyone!


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