I'm not usually one for New Year resolutions and the likes, as I think the novelty of doing such a thing at a time like this can tend to overshadow the objective somewhat. That, or I just suck at maintaining set resolutions. It's about 20/80, really.
But I do like to look back at the year that has passed and see where I went astray and what can be improved upon. It's easy enough to bask in the glory of previous success. But as an artist, who is always in a state of pursuit for growth and progression, past glory is nothing compared to future dreams.
So though I had some success in the past year, I find it far more productive to look at where I went wrong, to analyse these mistakes and to grow with that knowledge. So, lets have a look at the many ways in which I failed in 2013, shall we?
1. I wasn't as productive as I would have liked.
Sure, I produced lots of artwork, including the 100 Heads in 100 Days. But I wanted to finish off more major pieces than I did. There are many factors for this inadequacy, but really it's just a combination of laziness and fear. That's a battle most artists are forced to fight, and I am no exception. To be fair, though, I find myself less lazy and afraid at the end of every year as opposed to the previous one. So, that's something, isn't it?
2. I didn't use enough colour.
This has been one of my goals in recent years. I want to not only use more colour than I have in the past, but I want to learn more about it, how it works in both harmony and contrast, and how to develop my own palette, or style. I simply haven't done this yet. I did learn things about colour application and experimented a little with my landscape paintings from early in the year. But the simple truth is, I should know more and be able to produce better results than my current level shows.
3. I didn't doodle enough.
As a person with a full-time, busy job that keeps me away from the house for nearly 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, I find myself, inevitably, in front of the TV a lot when I am home. I may not have the energy levels to work on big pieces, but the least I could do is some sketching and doodles. I'm a firm believer in the idea that any drawing, no matter how small, rough, crap or whatever, adds to the progression of one's skill and style. We'll put this one on the lazy pile too.
4. I didn't write enough.
This goes for blog posts as well as the Faerie Tales and other fiction. I wrote more in the past year than any previous ones, but I still wanted to do more. I had planned on having the first draft of my novel completed long ago, but that is still a long way off. I'm more realistic about the writing objectives now though. The artwork will always come first, but I have got to do more writing in 2014.
5. I didn't network enough.
I read books on the subject of building your own platform (which is odd for me, I usually despise the self-help stuff), but I didn't implement what I learned well enough. I'm in the business of self-promotion, and there are many other very talented artists out there competing for the same readers and viewers. I have to be smarter about this side of what I do.
6. I spread myself too thin.
With the Realms of Faerie stuff, commissions and jobs, topped off by writing, self-set challenges, sculpture and all of the rest, I think I fuzzed up what I need to be doing. I get a lot of ideas for what I think would be cool to do. Sometimes, these are at the expense of what I should be doing. They are distractions from the real tasks. I need to learn to stop and think about the things I am doing, and if they are unnecessary and take me away from my core aims, then maybe they shouldn't be done.
7. I didn't win the lottery.
This will be remedied any day now, no doubt.
The natural thing to do next is to look at what I did get right, but I'm going to skip that step and go straight on to what I'm going to do about all of those errors.
1. I'm going to draw and write more.
The wife and I finally, thankfully, moved out of the god-awful mobile home and are now in a very nice place that has afforded me my own room (which I refer to as my 'retreat'). I have a desk set up for drawing and writing and all of my favourite books are within easy reach. There's a lovely view of fields and hedges right in front of me and I have absolutely no excuse for not being more productive now.
2. I'm going to maintain more of an online presence.
This will include putting myself out there more and generally being more accessible. I'll be on Facebook more, Twitter, as well as right here. I want to make more connections and get higher paying jobs coming my way.
3. Coloured paint will be my god in 2014.
Watercolour, acrylic, gouache and oils. As it is, about three quarters of what I produce now is in black & white, with brush, pen and ink. The other quarter is in colour. In 2014, I want to flip that ratio around, so that the majority of what I do is in colour. Colour is good. Paint is good. Spelling 'colour' without the 'u' is not good.
4. I will not create distractions for myself.
There will be no more things like the 100 Heads challenge for me for the foreseeable future. I essentially lost 3 months of Realms of Faerie work because of that thing. Instead, I will be producing more polished work that I can truly be proud of and will fill my portfolio with higher quality work.
5. I will set realistic goals.
I have a lot that I want to achieve in 2014. But I'm committed to producing the best work I can. If that takes longer than intended, so be it. The field of art that I am in allows for more time to be spent on each thing. I feel sorry for those comics guys, who have to churn out a page a day. I have the space to be a little more deliberate than that. But I won't be complacent, it's more about being the tortoise, not the hare, and maintaining a steady pace that is neither too slow, nor too fast.
6. I will enjoy the work immensely.
Not every job is a total barrel of laughs. None of them have been bad in any way, but some have been more fun than others. I plan to have fun doing the thing I love even more this year.
And there we have it. A quick glance back and a long stare forward.
Onward, I say!