Monthly Archives: December 2016

Yearly Review and Setting Art Goals for 2017

“I will join Alice and explore every rabbit hole, even at the risk of shrinking and expanding. I will join Huck and ride the river, even if con men are waiting. I will discover the essence of poetry, unravel the mystery of song, grasp the intricacies of color. I am one terrific explorer.”     Eric Maisel 

“If we did the things that we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves.”   Thomas Edison

“Commit to a process and see where it leads.”    Chuck Close

One of my favorite things to do at this time of year is to sit down with my art journal and page through the year’s entries. I review what I focused on and thought about as I worked on this year’s body of work and ask myself what worked, what didn’t work, what still needs improvement, and what needs to be changed. Then I make a list of ideas for where I might take my work in the coming year and clearly identify some action steps for getting there.  Ideas for potential action steps can also be found in art books and magazines, on-line research, and studying other artists’ paintings that interest you. I add content ideas, series ideas, ideas and plans for how I might make needed improvements or stretch myself further, and more action plans to the mix. I believe that you can never have too many ideas or too many action plans for improving your art!

This year I changed up the questions I asked myself for the sake of more clarity and to achieve a deeper, more authentic intentionality in my paintings. If you would like to do a yearly review and set some goals for 2017, here are those questions. Enjoy! 

      1. What do I most want to achieve in my art in 2017?

      2. What habits or personality traits might trip me up?

      3. What actions will I take to overcome them so that I can achieve my goals?

      4.  What two or three specific areas would I really like too improve in my art in 2017?

      5.  What action steps will I take to manifest those improvements?

It’s fun to list goals and dreams, but without formulating specific action plans for achieving them they’re just empty words. You need to know where you want to go and what actions you need to take in order to get there. All of the answers are found inside of you. Always remember, you are the best expert on your life.

P.S. I recommend answering these questions over a number of days. It may take awhile for the more authentic answers to bubble up to the surface.

Happy Writing!


How to Break Out of a Creative Rut

Morning in Central Park Study

A comment from a reader on my last post inspired me to think about some of the strategies I use for breaking out of a painting rut. When fear and inertia start creeping in, I seek stillness and solitude, and in my journal I write down ideas and thoughts for where I might take my painting practice next. Here are some of those thoughts and strategies. I hope they help you out at those times when you’re in that yucky place of feeling creatively stuck, blocked, bored, or in a rut. 

1. Experiment With Color

  • . Find a color scheme in a work of art that interests you, describe it in your own words and try that color scheme in a new painting.
  • . Paint with “wild color.” You get to decide what “wild color” means.
  • . Make a painting using a limited working palette; mix every color for the painting from just 4 to 6 tube colors.
  • . Put colors you’ve never tried before on your working palette and experiment with new color mixtures and new color schemes.

2. Experiment With Your Painting Surface

  • . Try Hot Press paper if you usually use Cold Press.
  • . Try Cold Press or Rough if you usually use Hot Press.
  • Try Yupo paper.
  • . Try 300 lb. paper if you usually use 140 lb.
  • . Use gessoed paper.
  • . Try one of the new multi-media boards.
  • . Try Aquaboard
  • . Start with a bright underpainting.
  • . Start with a neutral underpainting.
  • . Start with an abstract underpainting with lots of texture and mark making.

3. Forget About Product. Focus instead on Process, Exploration, and Play

  • . Play with personal mark marking, brushwork, and non-descriptive textures. 
    . Experiment with a decorative use of line. How many ways can the element of line be used in a painting?
  • . Use your subject as a jumping off place for exploring personal creativity and expression rather than description.
  • . Don’t paint things, paint abstract relationships of color, shape, and value. 
  • . Discover new painting possibilities in the work of another artist. Don’t copy. Describe what you love about his or her painting in one or two words and let those words be the intention for a new painting.
  • . Empower yourself to try something unexpected, out of the box, and really risky.
  • . Make a big mess. Make a lot of mistakes. Bask in the joy of not knowing what the heck you’re doing. Proceed anyway. Then smile and pat yourself on the back for being so courageous. That’s what the creative process is all about!  

Happy Painting!