~Artwork by Olga Siedlecka
It’s in our nature to always strive for new goals. Some might think this is due to a competitive nature, but I think it’s because art helps us grow. I am always reminded of this just as New Years begins to creep up on me. We all have similar thoughts — eat better, hit the gym, get organized, finish projects, etc. Sometimes, it even seems like we’re pressured into making resolutions that we don’t really care about. It’s a slippery slope for an artist to make a promise that he or she may not be able or even willing to keep. But then again, resolutions can also be exceedingly positive when we make them for all the right reasons. In an attempt to elevate the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution to its full artistic potential, we decided to ask some of our creative friends what types of artistic resolutions they planned to make, how they would pursue inspiration in the new year, and most importantly, how they broke up their goals into manageable projects that could actually be attained. The responses were heartfelt and incredibly insightful, and we hope that while reading these, you’ll gain inspiration for your own artful resolutions.
We are so grateful to have had 24 creative souls participate in this special project. However, with over 65 thoughtful and thorough responses to our questions, there’s simply no way we can showcase all the answers in this blog post.
Click here to read all the responses provided by our guest artists.
Also, don’t forget to scroll all the way to the end of this post to learn how you can win a beautiful Papaya Art Weekly Planner.
What is your creative/artful resolution for 2015?
~Photograph by Susan tuttle
“I’ve definitely found my creative niche in photography and love every moment of the process, from taking the photos to digitally enhancing them, but there is also a love in me for painting, in particular abstract painting. In terms of my career, I’ve been quite busy with photography and teaching online, so have found it difficult to make time to paint. My artistic goal for 2015 is to carve out some time, however small, to paint. I made a conscious choice to start with the un-lofty goal to create at least three paintings in 2015. This simple expectation of myself takes the pressure off, makes it doable, and gets me excited!” ~Susan Tuttle
“I’m not one for making resolutions at the beginning of the year. My philosophy is that I’d much rather reflect on the past year and recognize all I have done. I find that to be empowering and motivating. Each January I have a ritual of making a Ta-Da list. I start with the end of December and work my way back to the first of the year, making notes of everything that I can remember doing during the year. It is easier to start with the most recent self-imposed assignments. Eventually I recall a full list of achievements, missions, chores, and projects that leaves me feeling really good. Sure, there are always things left on my To-Do list…there is always more to do, and ideas that are still in-process. However, when you move items from your To-Do list to your Ta-Da list you celebrate what you’ve completed — that’s much more affirming than worrying about the tasks ahead, and the pledge to make changes with the turn of the calendar page. Maybe you could start 2015 by patting yourself on the back for all the work you completed in 2014, from art projects to self-improvement, and then carry forward the positive energy into the brand new year. Make a Ta-Da list, because it’s way more fun than a To-Do list!” ~Michelle Ward Download your own To-Do and Ta-Da lists, compliments of Michelle Ward.
“Seriously, my resolution this year is to try and keep my workload manageable so that I leave some time for myself to grow as an artist. To be truly creative takes time … I am a slow worker and I need time to allow ideas to grow and develop, but I don’t always give myself enough time. I would love to work on a bigger scale — it’s something that I generally shy away from but I think it may be time to push myself to work bigger. I think that working on a larger scale will bring a sense of freedom. I would also love to learn some new skills; traditional bookbinding and printmaking are both on my to-do list so maybe this is the year!” ~ Kate Crane
“My creative resolution is to not compare myself, my art, and my personality, to other creatives out there. It’s so hard not to do this because with so many of us, the goal is to distinguish ourselves, but in order to do this we must be true to who we are and why we create. We must follow and trust our intuitions and design aesthetic and not worry about what other artists doing.” ~Cat Kerr
~Artwork by Caitlin Dundon
“Several years ago, I stopped making official resolutions that start in January of each year. I found that after the busy holiday season, I needed a little bit of a break at the beginning of January and didn’t need the pressure of heavy resolutions. Instead, I make monthly resolutions year round. Using the Japanese “Kanban” approach — I have workflow post-its that represent projects I am in process of working on, projects I want to do (but are not ready to go yet), or projects I’m waiting for approval on, and projects I’ve completed recently. It’s nice to be able to move items to the done list! Certainly I have dream projects that I want to create, and sometimes I have to put them on a back burner if I have other things that require my attention first. I find that writing down your dreams/projects/desires, creates the kind of magic you need to get things to come into being. I have pride in completing and finishing a lot of projects during the course of a year, I know that there will always be projects that don’t come to fruition. I think it’s important to finish things, but it’s also important to accept that sometimes it is the process that is the most important thing. I find that if I ever have a moment of “artist’s block,” where I pause when I have a blank piece of paper or wood panel in front of me — I just force myself to dive in. Just cover the surface with anything, any color, and any collaged bits of paper. By just doing it, you are freeing yourself. You are allowing yourself to let go and just create. Sometimes I discover something new in doing this, something wonderful. Sometimes I make something I don’t like, but the beauty of the process is that you can keep layering, sanding, painting, adding gesso, stamping, inscribing, etc., and magically it becomes something that I love.” ~Caitlin Dundon
“I prefer to use the words “creative invitation” as opposed to “resolution”. It feels like a gentler approach and works much better for me at this stage of my life and creative career. I am aiming for greater trust in my days…trust that my creativity will continue to lead me where I need to go, whether that is through my fine art, further developing my product line, or becoming more involved with teaching. I can make all the lists I want about this or that path, but I am finding that simply showing up in my studio day after day and allowing space for the journey to unfold, without designating precisely what that journey is, brings the most rewards. so I suppose my creative invitation to myself for 2015 is to stay out of my own way, create freely without the overlay of how to make money, or be practical with my endeavors, and to stay in the game and allow room for serendipity to seep in.” ~Anna Corba
“I do not believe in resolutions and I do not make to-do lists. What I love to do is to stop when I feel the overwhelming need to make changes and take the time to listen to what my heart is telling me. I think of a resolution as an ongoing process, and instead of making it the end-of-the year habit I react to every situation through my impulses. When I am free of overwhelming expectations and due dates, I am successful in not rushing the moments, but really letting myself dive into them. My creativity springs when I give it time, space, and peace. Working as an independent creator is a continuous learning curve that above anything else includes self-improvement. …” ~Sylvia Stefanova
“To be a better servant to my muse, to resist nothing, and to suppress the ego dragon, which uselessly guards the gold. I know all of you creatives out there will fully understand what I mean by that.” ~Sandra Evertson
What do you do to stay inspired — will you be looking to new sources of inspiration in 2015?
~Photograph by Kelly Letky
“This one is easy: I go outside. Nature never fails to inspire me, from a pink cotton candy sunrise to a black crow eating seed in the driveway. I listen. To the birds, the wind, and the quiet whisper of flowers growing. To the sound of snowflakes gently hitting the ground, the cacophony of migrating geese that always makes me laugh, and the rustle of leaves passing through the tall poplars. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I can walk outside and hear these things. I listen, to life.” ~Kelly Letky
“I am a very community-oriented artist and often gain inspiration from connecting to other artists. As such, I will be increasing the number of workshops I teach with other artists, participating in a multi-artist collaborative art project, overseeing a group art exhibition, and setting up several, open-call online collaborations on my blog. Living in NYC provides a ton of inspiration and my goal for 2015 is to be more consistent in actually visiting the galleries, museums and other art venues that always provide me with creative fuel.” ~Seth Apter
“I attend art retreats and workshops that are out of my comfort zone. For example, I really do not love to paint, so I place myself in a painting class to be stimulated and stretched. I may never paint again, but I always go away with new inspirations and challenges that apply to my daily life whether it be cooking a delicious meal in my kitchen or trying a new technique in my art studio. I will continue to participate in online workshops because they always feed my creative appetite. ” ~Deb Taylor
~Photograph and Artwork by Monica Sabolla Gruppo
“I won’t be looking for them, as I believe inspiration comes from within and not from the outside. As to stay inspired, I will keep soaking up Nature and silence, going for solo drives and hikes in the glorious English countryside, or visiting Manor Houses and gardens — almost always unplanned and without a map (but always with my camera, sketchbook and a journal). These activities quiet my mind, fill my joy tank, and are always source of endless inspiration, and amazing clarity for me (in my work, for my life).” ~Monica Sabolla Gruppo
“I practice rituals from the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I have tweaked the rules-to suit me. I type my Morning Pages — you’re supposed to handwrite three pages. But I couldn’t read my writing, so I type. If my weekly Art Walk Date is canceled by life or the weather — I don’t let that stop me — I take my Art Walks-online. I go visit other countries, and/or watch a foreign or historical film, or visit Pinterest. I do prefer to physically visit a place with fresh eyes. I always take my camera and chase light. Photos for me are visual poems. My favorite painters are the sun, the moon, and the weather. Yes, I love all the Gelli art I am seeing and want to play with this medium. Art is fluid and always moving like the Northern Lights. I need to continue to grow, change, evolve, and playing with new sources helps expand our horizons. ” ~Ella Wilson
“The journey to a personal body of work is different in that I am compelled to wear blinders to sources of outside inspiration, I realize this sounds a tad ridiculous, especially in our 24/7 internet world. But I long to be in my cave (aka studio), holed up in mad-scientist/artist mode, playing with paint to see what comes up and where my muse guides me. It is important for me to rely on internal sources of inspiration as I have done in the past. For me, this typically means lots of time in nature, writing in my journals, meditation, and practicing yoga. These things will clear my mind and allow ideas to emerge in due course.” ~Mary Beth Shaw
“Cleaning your workspace is always a good idea as it often results in a surprising discovery that will eventually become a part of a future whole. I usually visit a flea market to find some rusty additions or just to look around. I also like to spoil myself with some little purchase, like new brushes or paints. After the shopping I always look forward to working with my new buy. My advice is to look through art and photo albums, and even some children books, too. Don’t forget nature with its colours and details. A piece of bark can be more inspiring than professionally printed papers.” ~Olga Siedlecka
“To stay inspired I like to do things that slow me down. Activities such as yoga and meditation are good places to go whenever I need to unwind and relax…which puts me in a peaceful frame of mind to receive creative thoughts and ideas. If you prefer more physical movement to quiet the mind, walking alone outside, especially in nature, can also be a good way to go.” ~Becky Shander
How do you, as an artist/photographer/writer, set challenging but attainable goals?
~Photograph by Mary Wangerin
“When I begin to notice myself slip into that easy, comfortable zone while creating, I know it’s time to unleash my brave and bold and introduce a new creative goal. Pushing past that comfort level is where we grow, discover, and uncover amazing new techniques and processes; and ultimately when we have the most fun!
Sometimes that means I say yes to opportunities that thrill, but scare me. Sometimes I give myself a time limit for finishing a painting. Sometimes I challenge myself to use colors I don’t normally ever use while painting. Sometimes I collaborate with a fellow artist on a painting.
It’s all in allowing myself to try new things creatively, while embracing the discomfort of uncertainty/vulnerability that can come with a challenge!” ~Mary Wangerin
“During a screen writing class, the teacher asked: ‘What is the biggest difference between famous screenplay writers and yourselves?’ After a moment, he answered his own question, “They took their work to completion.” That became my motto. Take your work to the finish line. Not doing so may be the only thing standing between you and success. Remove that barrier and a path opens before you. I have an ongoing list of long and short term projects. I keep revisiting each project until it is complete. My children’s book took sixteen years to percolate and has just been self-published. A sketch I did in 30 seconds during my son’s violin lesson, sold as a print. Methodical, long-term works sprinkled with short-term projects keeps me moving forward.” ~Cathryn Mezzo
“First and foremost, I must write down my monthly, weekly, and daily goals in a daily planner, otherwise they’re just thoughts rumbling around in my head. Each month I think about what I want to accomplish overall, usually a big project or something that gets me closer to a bigger goal. Then I break that goal down into weekly and daily goals. I’m a big fan of micro-movements and achieving large goals in small chunks. Even if it’s something as challenging as writing a novel, if I break it down into itty bitty goals (10 minutes of research, 500 words a day, etc.) it makes the writing so much easier for me to accomplish.” ~Cassandra Key “By setting smaller, attainable daily goals, my more challenging goals end up being reached without even knowing it! A little mind trickery.” ~Michelle Shefveland
“My goals need to be specific in nature. If they are too vague my performance can’t be evaluated. For instance, it isn’t enough to just commit to journaling or painting. I have to make that goal specific by committing to work in my journal at least twice a week or creating one new canvas a month. It is also important for me that my goals be realistic or I might get too overwhelmed from falling behind. I also adjust my goals as I go along when my circumstances change or I am inspired to move in a different direction. I have to remain flexible.” ~Roben-Marie Smith
“I’m not too aggressive when setting goals for myself. As a stay-at-home mom, time with family always comes first. Creative time may need to occur during school hours and evenings, but I do push myself a bit more when my Etsy store is looking empty or I have a vendor show coming up. Nothing like a hard deadline to get my gears going! I’m a firm believer in making lists, especially of creative ideas that pop into my head. Not all the ideas come to fruition, but many do make it to a finished project – and that feels wonderful. I never chastise myself for not getting to projects on the list, because there’s always some day.” ~Susan Frick
“I don’t think I am the right person to ask this! I have big, giant goals! I am working on setting smaller goals for myself, and most of all working at celebrating the small accomplishments along the way. Often times, as soon as I accomplish a goal I feel like ‘done! Now on to the next thing,’ and I forget to celebrate the small steps, which then leads to burn out. A couple of internet friends who have great podcasts about these types of topics are Tara Swiger, Abbey Glassenberg, and Jamie Ridler, and Kari Chapin who just started a new podcast too. I love listening to these podcasts while I work. Hearing about other artists struggling with the same issues inspires me to be a bit gentler with myself and my work.” ~Claudine Hellmuth
~Photograph by D. Smith Kaich Jones
“I just begin. One sentence, I tell myself. One line, one paragraph. I always begin by describing the day outside and inside. The mundane things. Where the cat is and what she’s doing. What the weather’s like. That keeps my fingers nimble, loosens me up. It’s a warm up for the race ahead, but I don’t run marathons.
I keep bowls full of words and phrases, and if I’m having trouble grabbing an idea, I grab a word and hold it and pay attention to the feelings it invokes, the images it throws my way. One of my favorite books is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, and one of my very favorite parts of that book is this:
‘He’d been having trouble with students who had nothing to say. At first he thought it was laziness but later it became apparent that it wasn’t. They just couldn’t think of anything to say.
One of them, a girl with strong-lensed glasses, wanted to write a five-hundred word essay about the United States. He was used to the sinking feeling that comes from statements like this, and suggested without disparagement that she narrow it down to just Bozeman.
When the paper came due she didn’t have it and was quite upset. She had tried and tried but she just couldn’t think of anything to say.
It just stumped him. Now he couldn’t think of anything to say. A silence occurred, and then a peculiar answer: ‘Narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman.’ It was a stroke of insight.
She nodded dutifully and went out. But just before her next class she came back in real distress, tears this time, distress that had obviously been there for a long time. She still couldn’t think of anything to say, and couldn’t understand why, if she couldn’t think of anything about all of Bozeman, she should be able to think of something about just one street.
He was furious. ‘You’re not looking!’ he said. A memory came back of his own dismissal from the University for having too much to say. For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see. She really wasn’t looking and yet somehow didn’t understand this.
He told her angrily, ‘Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.’
Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide.
She came in the next class with a puzzled look and handed him a five-thousand-word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana. ‘I sat in the hamburger stand across the street,’ she said, ‘and started writing about the first brick, and the second brick, and then by the third brick it all started to come and I couldn’t stop. They thought I was crazy, and they kept kidding me, but here it all is. I don’t understand it.’
Those words in those bowls are my bricks. I start with just one, and I list (even if just mentally) all the obvious things, and then keep going.” ~D. Smith Kaich Jones
A Warm Thank You to all the Creative Souls
We’re so grateful to all the artists, photographers, and writers, who participated in this blog post. Thank you for sharing your plans for the future, sources of inspiration, and your techniques for success.
Don’t forget, you can read all of our artists’ responses by clicking here.
Tell us your Artful Resolution for a Chance to Win:
Now we want to hear from you, our beloved readers! Tell us what you think about these resolutions and share your own artful resolutions for a chance to win a Papaya Art Weekly Planner. This gorgeous planner has a sturdy, hard cover and special features like foil accents, pockets, and an elastic closure, making it both functional and beautiful.
For your chance to win, simply leave us a comment below. We’ll select a winner at random and contact them via email as well as announcing their name in our upcoming Glimpse Inside Blog Post on January 1st, 2015.
Contest ends on December 31st at 11:59pm. Good Luck!
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