Doing Great Work


Donna Zagotta, Look Both Ways

I’m excited to say that my painting in today’s post, Look Both Ways will be included in the 2010 National Watercolor Society Exhibition that opens later this month in San Pedro, California.  It was a breakthrough painting for me, it’s one of my favorites, and I am so thrilled that the jurors liked it too!  

In his book Do More Great Work, Michael Stanier writes, “There’s a basic pattern, a rhythm, to the creative process, a backbeat driving the emergence of ideas:




                         Create/ Select 

You open up, expand possibilities, and have ideas (out, expand, diverge, create). Then you narrow your focus, close down options, and make a choice (in, contract, converge, select).  And repeat.”

Half the battle of improving our work and getting it closer to where we really want it to be is knowing what we want. I find it extremely helpful to sit down with my art journal and get my “wants” into specifics. I make lists of the ideas and elements I want to add to my work, and then I search for ways to implement them. The second list of “ways” is actually more important than the first list of “wants” because the items on that list will often be outside of our current areas of expertise and therefore will require learning something new, trial and error experiments, failing, leaving behind old habits, and starting from square one again.  While it sounds simple, it’s not easy. But, it is the secret to doing more great work! 

Happy Painting!

7 thoughts on “Doing Great Work

  1. D Johnson

    Before reading the title the woman and dog looking opposite directions grabbed my attention. Then I moved to the background and back to the beautiful shadow on the dog. There’s just so much visual movement, yet my eye remains in the picture. Great way to meet your goals.
    I just looked up the book on Amazon and am buying it. Thanks for reference.

  2. Peggy Stermer-Cox

    Hi Donna,
    Congratulations on having “Look Both Ways” included in the NWS’s exhibition this year. I just received the “Call for Entry” post card from the Northwest Watercolor Society and there you are again! They have your “Orange Umbrella” on the post card; made me smile!

    I find it interesting to know that you keep lists and purposefully think through your goals and how you intend to achieve them. Something for me to think about! Thank you!

    1. Donna Post author

      Hi Peggy,
      Thanks a bunch! It was a great honor to be chosen for next year’s exhibition postcard mailing. That painting was in this year’s NWWS show.

      I’ve been keeping lists of ideas, wants, and goals for my art along with an art journal for 25 years and I think that’s one of the major factors in helping me find my voice as an artist, even tho I didn’t know it at the time. In art, things take a long time to gel and it’s taken this long for them to start to gel for me. Slow learner, I guess!

    1. Donna Post author

      Hi Michael – great to hear from you! Love the book – the title is totally captivating. Your suggestions about starting with knowing where you are and where you want to go are ideas I have been working with for years in the form of making lists of wants, goals and ways to manifest those wants and goals in my art. It’s a fabulous way to coach yourself to success. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise.


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