Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To Dream a New Dream

"Steppin' Out" 12x12 oil on canvas (collection artist)
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C. S. Lewis

I’ve always been fairly focused and goal oriented. This tendency served me well in a business or educational setting.  As you know, in the corporate world a typical goal goes something like this: Increase sales of the XYZ oil brush at the new Atlanta store by 10% by end of the year.  Here, the goal is both specific and measurable.  At the end of the year, the answer is either yes that happened or no we missed the boat.

However a typical artist goal might be:  I want to improve my plein air painting. (Yes, that’s one of my actual summer art goals.) Seems reasonable and true but kind of vague now that I see it in print.  This morning for example (photo evidence below) I actually ventured out of my studio (yay!) and painted in the park? So did I achieve my goal?
My Coulter plein air easel in Wash Park this AM. Whew hot but shady!
But aren’t we always hearing that art is a journey not a destination? Or maybe that’s not true anymore in today’s art market? No easy answers, right?  

Thankfully, I recently came across two timely goal themed posts (no pun intended). One from OPA artist Susan Blackwood who nicely summarized an OPA presentation by Joe Paquet. And the other from award winning Colorado landscape artist Stacey Peterson who writes about “keeping your eye on the trail.”  

I particularly enjoyed Joe’s theme of “knowing yourself” and “finding your own gifts." More specifically, he suggests you grade yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on these key criteria:
  • Drawing (I think of this as interesting shape/mark making as well as accuracy/proportion)
  • Color
  • Harmonies
  • Design
  • Brush strokes (I think of this as edgework as well)
  • Values
To help evaluate my own skills I added 2 additional key criteria that I also feel are important to my growth as an artist:
  • Starting with clear purpose and intent
  • Finishing (actually finishing, detail work, or knowing when to stop)
Not only did I find it helpful to grade myself but I thought this would be a very useful list to take to a class or workshop to help you have a specific dialogue with an instructor.  Or to score yourself after a series of new paintings. Where was I at the start of the year, where am I now?

Goal making may not work for every artist but personally, I’ll always find this kind of “self diagnosis” helpful. One of my own goals will always be to "be a better artist"—but I think I understand now that how I define that is up to me. 

P.S. Thanks to Dan Oakleaf for sharing this "dreamy" snowy egret photo (taken along the So. Platte in north Denver) for today's egret painting to help me meet my "wildlife painting" goals.  

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