Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals for the New Year

Koi (for C and H) Acrylic on canvas 18"x24"

New Years Resolutions are a good idea. According to the book I am reading for book group, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, resolutions not only increase your productivity or decrease your thighs, setting and keeping resolutions can make you happier. I would be happy to be happier all the time. One way I can see that I would be happier  - is if I were a better painter.

So my resolution for this year - to constantly learn how to paint.

I have a strong start on this goal - beginning last summer when I picked up a paint brush to experiment with tempera paint I got at a garage sale. At the same garage sale, I bought, for a dime, the Watercolor Lesson-a-Day Calendar. These are tiny sketches to be painted and colored, of 365 paintings by dozens of artists and styles. I really enjoy looking at these images, and found myself sorting them into types - with consideration for how each was painted. I was looking for simple images, and ideas for paintings I, with my limited skills and ability, and especially, my young students, could try to paint.

I have written before about how I stumbled into abstract art in by seeking ways to teach, and by seeing with new eyes, the works of Klee and Kandinsky, Matisse and Miro.  Since summer, as I have been combining learning to use acrylic paint with my study of abstract art, I have learned a great deal. Not the least of which is  how much I need to know to become a better painter (as defined by my own criteria).

To accomplish this, my primary goals for the moment, until I discover what I need to know next, is to learn and improve technique  -the How-to's
  • how to create texture with paint
  • how to create better brush strokes
  • to use paint like pastels - blend on the surface
  • use a palette knife 
  • create 'impressions' with paint
  • learn to abstract 
  • learn to be more impressionistic, trees, flowers, simple shapes to create  impression 
  • ... abstract impressionism, expressionism
Based on my experience and the process of learning to paint,  I know I am doing some things right. I am taking classes in Dynamic Abstract painting at PCC.  I have befriended a helpful salesman at Aaron Brothers, where I buy my (steady stream of) art supplies. He is always willing to share a book recommendation or a bit of advice on paint, pigment, tools and materials. And, he figures out how to make the most of my coupons.

Another great resource has turned out to be the internet (what a surprise!). I have learned so much, and gotten so many cool ideas from videos that artists and teachers post of themselves painting and teaching on YouTube. And course, there are books. Amazon is richer for my growing collection.

The greatest teacher in this process has been practice. I feel as if I am learning to cook - trying new ingredients and recipes every day.  I have filled canvases and sketch pads and pastel sheets with color and images. I have generated quite a bit of work - even some that I am proud of. I can not express how much I gained from the Art Everyday for a Month challenge.  As a result of making art often - with no goal except learning from the process,  I can see progress, change, confidence and pleasure in what I am doing - so, I want to keep doing it.

Therefore, I have saved my last two resolutions/goals for last ...

I believe that for me to meet my goals, I need to to paint or draw or work digitally - at least 4 times a week, to build my skills, and expand my creative arena. To really be happy doing this, I need external motivation - I need to connect with other artists and teachers, anyone with the desire to learn to make art, or to share what they know. So, I want to:
  • to teach my own classes, based on my own ideas, and 
  • become part of a painting group - for a regular opportunity to meet, work, critique, share and learn with a group with common goals.
And one more thing, I also want to learn how to market art ... but first I want to make more of it ...

What are your goals as an artist? How will you meet them? Any ideas for me?

Happy New Year.