Setting Artistic Goals


“A New Decade, A New You.”  “This Is The Year For You!”

These are all headlines that I have read the past few weeks, as 2020 creeps closer and closer. While the goal of “setting goals” is always a good idea, sometimes I find these New Year Goals/Resolution posts to be off putting. So instead of yet another list of things to do and not do to get ahead or change your life, here’s what I’ll be doing to prepare for 2020 as an artist:

Reflect: The start of a new calendar year reminds me that 365 days have passed, and I really should think about the past. What have I done with my time? What shows have I applied for? Where have I exhibited? How many paintings have I made? What new artistic avenues have I tried? What have I wanted to do, but didn’t?

Reconsider: I typically don’t reread my journals, but in December I will go through my journals, sketchbooks and drawings. I look for patterns and unfinished ideas that are begging to be birthed. This is where I find themes for my future paintings, series or big projects. I review my “failed” pile – what can I learn from these works? After the months that have gone by, are my failures really that bad?

Renew: After thinking about the old year and looking at my sketchbooks, I bring out my calendar. I’ll write in my shows and deadlines, workshops I teach and workshops I’ll attend, and list some major themes I want to explore each month. I get myself pumped up for the work, so that when I hit the studio on January 1, I am excited to start. Another tradition that I’ve kept for many years is that I gesso 12 surfaces on the first day of the year. Some are big, some are small, but by the simple act of preparing my surfaces – just one for each month – I am setting my intentions for the year. And I get a basic studio task done!

(Need tips on surface prep? Read about Atelier Binder Medium, Gesso Primer, Liquid Gesso Primer, and Free Flow Coloured Liquid Gesso here.)

For some, my New Year’s Eves and New Year’s Days are not terribly exciting, but for me, this simple practice of reflection, reconsideration and renewal sets the tone for the next year. Are there any special ways that you prepare for a new year as an artist? Post some comments on our Facebook page or send me an email at jvonstein@chromaonline.com – I’d love to read your thoughts.