Monotype: Winter Sunlight (Artist Goals – Art Studio Planning – Part II)

Winter Sunlight, 5.25 x 7.25 monotype (sold)

Artist’s Goals, Part II

This is part II of plotting your artist¬†goals for the new year. In the last post, we reviewed what¬†we did (and didn’t) do in 2016 to inspire¬†adjustments for¬†2017. Did you crave¬†more art-making last year? ¬†Creative output happens if¬† you 1) reserve time &¬†2) give art your full, uncluttered focus. Art doesn’t usually chase you¬†down. It’s up to each of us to pursue art. We’re more apt to prioritize emptying the dishwasher over sketching, or surfing social media instead of¬†finishing that still life painting. ¬†Those activities are fine, but if you didn’t get enough art-making in 2016, you might fare better to reserve time for art on your calendar now. ¬†Try putting a basic system in place. In my own studio & life tug o’ war, the phrase “I didn’t have time….” is usually, more accurately “I didn’t take the time…”. Art-making rarely¬†happens passively; we have to reach for it with deliberate hands¬†and a steadfast heart. Let’s reserve a seat at life’s¬†table for art in the coming year.

Looking at my open spaces for art by marking my obligations over the year ahead

It Helps to Have a Plan

Let’s take a¬†12 month calendar, and lay it out on the floor or a table, or temporarily tape it to a wall in a 4×3¬†month grid, so we can see the entire year. We’re visual folks, so it’s important to see the whole picture. I’m using a Berol marker in crimson red, but a crayon or a colored pencil works too. (Write with something that won’t bleed through your paper.)

Marking days that are already spoken for on a month-view calendar

Use a Month View Calendar Printout

Mark¬†the days¬†that are spoken for with a diagonal line. Mark¬†all holidays, birthdays to celebrate with¬†family members, family vacations, incoming houseguests, days reserved for writing blogs, cleaning house, grocery shopping, babysitting, church, bible study, events like superbowl sunday, time at the gym, volunteering, classes, dentist & doctor appointments, etc. ¬†If you work a set schedule, you might block 3/4 of each workday, leaving a slice of evening open for art. If work leaves your creative gas tank empty, put a mark through the entire day. If you exhibit¬†your art¬†at festivals or shows on the weekends, be sure to mark those days as well. Now step back and look at¬†the open spaces to book¬†appointments¬†with your muse. There’s usually less open time for that than we think, so let’s reserve it now, shall we?

Reviewing my wish list of art-related ideas for 2017

Pre-Motor Planning

While reviewing last year’s calendar in yesterday’s post, did you have a long list of art projects you meant to get to in 2016? Before any curb-kicking, take a moment to survey whether you still want to tackle that project, or should it perhaps be¬†replaced with something more accessible? I often commit to more than I can finish¬†in squeezey time brackets, so it’s better if I reach for shorter, more finish-able¬†projects. So, for example, instead of saying “I’m going to paint a series of floral still life paintings!” – if you’re new to this planned¬†approach towards¬†art-making, start with “I’m going to make two floral still life paintings.” Finishing is important if you want to be encouraged to keep going. That’s one of the reasons I work small; you can finish a small peice¬†much quicker than a wall-sized work. Working small provides¬†1) less¬†intimidation, ¬†2) a sense of accomplishment, 3) finished art, ready to be shared, and 4) you can work in a tiny space. #itsallgood

A small space for small art

Plot a Course

Now, lets propagate art-related fun in between all the life-stuff scheduled for this year. If laying things across 12 months feels too intimidating for you, just schedule¬†the month of February. One month at a time works, but the point is to increase the time spent on art over last year. You don’t have to double the output, but every little step forward will encourage you to keep at it in the months to come. For example,¬†let’s say you want to sign up for an online video tutorial from any one of the resources listed in this post.

CreativeLive shows the number of lessons per video in the upper left corner, and that can be expanded to see the duration of each lesson

Finish What You Started

Since I didn’t complete the two video courses I purchased last year, and each course is broken into segments (those smart-cookies in production must know we need help!!) I’ve reserved three one-hour time slots on my calendar in¬†February to consume six¬†30 minute video segments. I’m actually reserving 90 minutes per session¬†so I can think after watching, take some notes, and perhaps dabble with¬†some of the methods outlined in those lessons. Does that make sense? My goal is to finish both classes I purchased last year, and take two or three more. If¬†you purchase a class, take a look at the duration of each segment, and add¬†them to¬†your calendar one or two at a time.

Craftsy classes are also split into bite-sized lessons, which are visible in an expandable side bar

Take an Online Class

It might be a good thing to select one or two classes, and schedule time¬†with a partner or a group of friends. You may not¬†live close enough to watch a tutorial segment together, followed by artsy-chatting while you work on art at the dining room table with chips &¬†salsa. You can still partner by scheduling simultaneous watch-time, followed by a skype video chat¬†to talk about the tutorial, and encourage each other to be accountable. I’m doing this now with a partner [550¬†miles away] for¬†another (non-art) video class, and it’s working beautifully to keep us both¬†on track & moving ahead. (Try this one on for size – it’s free: Six Tips to paint More Often)

Painter Richard Schmid demonstrating a still life in oil painting at Weekend with the Masters in 2010

Artist Forums

I think it’s a great idea to fertilize your art-process with tools & tips from other artists. If you need face to face live instruction, peruse the artist forums for a workshop that fits in your schedule, and book it. Workshops (virtual and on-site) are like a drop of brightly colored dye in a bowl of clear water; they make us see everything differently, which helps with inspiration, and climbing out from creative block and habitual ruts. ¬†But, you have to reserve that time to make it happen. Research & book it.

A packed crowd at an exhibit of new work by my friend Nancy Eckels.

Regional Art Shows

Now, let’s take a look at juried shows… Here’s a post with links to a few resources you can subscribe to, ¬†so you’ll be notified via email once a week with¬†upcoming exhibits. ¬†Let’s say I want to apply to the Adirondecks National Exhibition of Watercolors. I’d download their prospectus, see if my work fits the criteria for¬†that show, and mark my new calendar with the deadlines for 1) submission, 2) jury notification, 3) delivery of art, and 4) exhibit dates. In addition, I’d block out a few hours,¬†two weeks¬†before the submission deadline to prepare¬†my entry paperwork & images, and I’d reserve three days for prepping art to frame & ship in the month between jury notification & delivery deadline. ¬†Make sense?

Framing work for an upcoming art festival

Art Festivals, Anyone?

You don’t have to apply to a national show to do this; search your local art clubs and galleries as well as art festival listings for shows coming up this year, and mark your calendars backwards in time so you’ll be ready to apply and deliver art to those shows. If you’ve never done this before, pick a few shows, select your best work, and give it a go. And if you get rejected, don’t take it personally, because there are too many cloaked factors you have no control over in the jurying process. It’s best to just get back to work, and try¬†it again as soon as possible.

Blocking out new-art days; I want to increase my output over last year ūüôā

Use a System

If art shows and workshops don’t float your boat, and you just want more painting or drawing time, make some dates with yourself, and/or with some friends to break out the art supplies, and have at it. You’ll be more inclined to show up for art time if you’ve reserved it on your calendar, and you can look forward to it. “I’m sorry, Mr. Zuckerberg, I’d love to join you, but I have a very important meeting with my art supplies that day.” You might enjoy¬†this article¬†about why¬†a system is essential to increasing your creative output.

How is Your Productivity?

If you’ve found some clever ways to increase your art-making, please share in the comments. (If this or any other method doesn’t work for you, please share those details too, so we’ll know what to skip in our attempts to harness art-time.) This approach is simple, non-digital, visual and pretty quick to set up. If you use a calendar on your computer or smartphone, you can transfer all your new art appointments¬†from your paper planner¬†to the digital version (hopefully in a bright color). But keep those dates you’ve made with yourself.

Leave your fears about art-making in last year, and go forth in 2017¬†all a flutter, singing¬†and skipping in a meadow of possibilities. Art is fun. It’s not quantum physics or life-threatening surgery, so breathe deep, grab your art supplies, and take one little, intentional, confident baby step at a time. ūüôā

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. You can subscribe to this blog to get each post via email here.

Art Quote

The muse and momentum are star-crossed lovers. Your job as a creator is to ignite their romance.

~Srinivas Rao

Click the link for details on this course, with a discount code. With this system, you’ll be titling your art like a pro.


8 thoughts on “Monotype: Winter Sunlight (Artist Goals – Art Studio Planning – Part II)”

  1. Wonderful ideas Belinda. This year all planning is up in the air as I deal with two family members
    undergoing cancer treatment. But I have been making time every day for art. And last year was
    spectacular. You are a constant inspiration to me. Beautiful Monotype.

    XOXOXOXOXO Barbara

    1. Hello my sweet friend, I’m so sorry to hear about your family members with cancer. Sending good vibes your way for healing & endurance, and a steadfast continuation of your wonderful art.

  2. Gabrielle Sivitz

    “Art-making rarely happens passively; we have to reach for it with deliberate hands and a steadfast heart.” – now there’s a quote to keep!

    One thing I found a few years ago that motivates me to make more time to do art is to track the hours I spend on art-related activities on a daily basis. I love charts and graphs, so this is my carrot-on-a-stick for making time to do art. I might be tempted to do the dishes or surf the internet, and then I’d think about my chart and I’d go do art instead. At the end of each week, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much time I did manage to carve out for creativity.

    1. Hi Gabrielle, I *love* this chart idea for it’s hands-on, drawn artsiness, as well as the visual elements representing time. I have a hard time reading charts, but I wonder if I could come up with one that made sense “at a glance” for my particular brain. Thanks for this nugget to ponder! And more art to you!

  3. Hi Brenda: I am amazed that you already know commitments that far in advance! My life doesn’t work like that. How do you handle the requirements to be available if someone or something needs your attention?

    1. Hi Sharon, Most of the art events I participate in are scheduled 9-10 months ahead of time, so its wise to hold dates in reserve if you plan to exhibit in those events. If I’ve committed & paid for an art event, I’ll be broadcasting dates & locations to patrons and followers, so there isn’t an expectation that I’ll be free then. But if something urgent came up – a family matter, etc – I’d make adjustments. Is that what you mean?

      1. Actually it’s stuff like doctors appointments and vacation days, the stuff that is somewhat more flexible. I am impressed that you do so many art fairs -that is hard stuff. Are you also in galleries? Do you teach? Do you also take workshops?

        1. Doctor appointments and vacations are cyclical, so they happen around the same time each year. If I like a particular art festival, like the San Diego Artwalk, I attend each year, and its always the last weekend in April. Even if you don’t know the exact dates, its good to hold a spot on the calendar so you know how much painting time you *really* have. I love workshops, galleries, and teaching (via video tutorials), so yes, three times. ūüôā

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