At the start of a new year, I set aside some time to reflect on the past twelve months and set my sights on the year ahead.  This January, I dedicated several days to this process and I’m so glad that I did!  For me, it’s important to refocus my creative energy and allow my goals and intentions to thoughtfully develop.

It’s easy to set New Year’s Resolutions that sound right, such as loose 10 lbs, keep the house clean, paint every day, etc.  But I believe it’s more important to set goals that feel right.  As Danielle LaPorte writes in The Desire Map, “We’re going to ask ourselves what we need to do, experience, and have in order to feel the way we most want to feel.”

How do I most want to feel in 2016?  Joyful, as in Full of Joy.  To me, this means feeling light, fluid, present, connected with my Source, and experiencing a sense of spaciousness.  Feeling joyful would be the complete opposite of feeling depressed, discouraged, and overwhelmed. That’s an easy choice, I want to feel joy.

I also want to feel efficient, which absolutely does not mean that I will do it all, in speedy, worker-bee mode. In fact, feeling efficient is more about getting things done, that really need to be done, with the least amount of wasted resources.  My official definition for efficient is: to function in the best manner possible with the least waste of time and effort. Efficiency is the kryptonite to procrastination. And hey, this may be the year I get over procrastination.

And above all, I want to feel grateful in 2016.  Gratitude makes our hearts grow, our relationships thrive,and our days special. As A.A. Milne wrote, “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Simply saying the word ‘gratitude’ makes my heart feel warm.  When you feel grateful, small moments become precious moments.

It took me awhile to narrow down the “how do I want to feel” list to my big three; joyful, efficient and grateful.  And the next step was deciding how these intentions would influence my goals.  I have several personal and work goals that I’ll keep to myself, but I wanted to share my art goals with you to provide accountability and give you a glimpse into my art world.

1. Paint or draw every day.

I have no set time or criteria for how I draw or paint. This means I could doodle on the back of an envelope for 5 minutes and call it a drawing.  Or I could spend hours in my studio immersed in a painting.

The reason for the lack of criteria is that I want to integrate the creative process into my everyday life. No need for inspiration and large chunks of time. I can draw while my coffee is brewing.  I can paint even when I don’t feel like it.  I also have colored pencils handy for the days when picking up a brush seems too involved.

A little calendar within my journal is my tracker for this goal.  I fill in the day if I draw/paint.  I put an X on the days that I skip. It’s a visual tracker, which works well for me.

2. Do something each week to market my art and my art classes.  

I often procrastinate or flat out do nothing in this area. I think a lot of artists struggle with this as we would much rather create art than try to sell art.  But it’s easy to see that marketing my art and classes will allow me to keep doing what I love to do. Checking in each week in my journal will keep me accountable on this goal.

3. Create an online beginning watercolor class and give it away for free.  

I am so grateful for having art in my life.  How better to express gratitude than to share an art class with others?  This will be a very basic introductory class — for people who have been too scared to try painting or who don’t know where to begin.  I’m excited about this! My plan is to have it online by the first of March.

4. Teach a plein air workshop 

The plein air workshop is set for June 14-17, 2016.  I’ve already made arrangements for lodging, have the supply list made, and have a rough outline of the workshop content.  I’ll also be writing a workbook that will be a part of the workshop. It’s going to be a very informative and fun time.

5. Participate in Umpqua Plein Air 

Not only will I be a participant in Umpqua Plein Air but I’m also the chair of the planning committee.  The committee meets this week and will meet monthly throughout the year. I love this event and I’m happy to help organize it!

6. Paint for an exhibit

I have an exhibit scheduled for September 2016.  I’ll be painting all new work for this show.  I know from experience this means that I’ll have to paint a lot more than what’s needed in order to come up with my best work. My goal is to prepare for this exhibit ahead of time, which is a huge undertaking for a skilled procrastinator like me! Haha.  I’ll check in each month to see how the work is progressing.

7. Paint from the core of who I am

Okay, I’ll admit, there is no tangible way to track this goal, but I’m setting it anyway.  I can tell when I’m painting ‘in the zone’, feeling connected, present, and authentic.  And I know when I’m painting from fear, tension, ego, or small-mindedness.  The difference is completely apparent to me, so for this one, I’ll be accountable to myself each time I pick up the paint brush.

8. Saying no to (almost) everything else

This is a tough goal for me because I would love to say yes to every art opportunity that comes my way. Painting time has to take priority. Creating good art means painting a lot of failures, trials, and experiments, and it takes time to paint all those mistakes!

This is illustrated so well in a little parable in Art and Fear, “The ceramics teacher announced he was dividing his class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right graded solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an A, 40 pounds a B, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an A.

Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity! It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

I can honestly say that I’ve learned more from my painting mishaps than I have from my effortless paintings.  And I know I need to leave space for both good and bad paintings to emerge in my studio and in plein air.  A time committment to my art is paramount.

I’ll check in with my ‘saying no’ abilities at the end of each month.  You can see that I have one daily goal and one weekly goal. I have a few goals that I’ll check in on monthly and a few with specific deadline dates.  And these goals play nicely with my core desired feelings for the year; joy, efficiency, and gratitude.

Sounds like a pretty neat and tidy package, doesn’t it? It’s great to have a plan but it’s also important to be flexible and accepting of what life brings you. I’m looking forward to a wonderful, creative year!

How about you? Do you set art goals and if so, how do you track them?


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