Left: A quick study of a Jack Russell Terrier using Tombow Pens on some discontinued drawing paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement. (Also remember that Tombow Pens are not archival and you can read about them in an earlier post.)
I've written a lot on this blog about the importance of having goals, managing goals, assessing goals, and establishing new goals.
Goals, goals, goals, goals. I wrote about my cycling goals in yesterday's post. Today I wanted to say something about my journaling and painting goals.
On December 31, 2010 I wrote a post about being present. That continues to be my most important on-going goal.
Life this year has offered up some interesting reminders that goals have to be grounded in the life you are actually living. I've lost several friends this year and we are helping Dick's parents negotiate frailty and old age. None of this happens on a time table that you can dictate. While you may make certain appointments ahead of time there will always be the odd thing that pops up. On a lot of days I admit to losing my sense of humor. On other days you just can't help but laugh (after the fact)—like the day I spent all morning crying at my cousin's funeral and then had to go and have publicity photos shot. Things happen when they happen and you simply have to find some way to keep firmly on the planet.
I'm grateful for friends like Diane who has been walking before me in a similar journey with her parents, yet graciously stopping and reaching back to pull me forward whenever she can. She is an amazing person. I've spent our entire friendship bossing her around and yet she still loves me enough to stand by me while I learn humility and not say "I told you so."
If it weren't for outings with Roseanne and Nan whose own lives have had great turmoil and stress I think I might even have forgotten how to laugh.
And I know I have to keep moving forward or my friend Linda will come after me.
I think of friends like Karen and Pat whom I call, and don't even tell them what I'm thinking. I just want to hear what is going on in their lives because then it seems that things are normal.
It's these women and many more friends like them who have made the past year possible and enjoyable and I'm grateful. They all help me stay present, whether it's talking about Photoshop with my friend Tom, or being out sketching at the Fair with my old friend Ken or my new friend Bill.
So I think for now the mechanism for working on being present is in place, working, and I'll just keep at it.
Which means I can focus on other goals such as what I want to do creatively in 2013.
First I have to look at what I was able to do in 2012.
It's kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand I created 25 journals—volumes A12 through Y12. (You can see how I organize and index my journals here if you don't already know.)
I created a total of 1,615 pages. That's the closest I've come to having a journal for each letter of the alphabet in a given year. It's the largest page count of any year in my life. (Even in college—where I produced more written than visual pages and a ton of time I didn't reach that number.)
(I just realized if I had counted my fake journal that would have pushed me to Z, drat! But I never number that journal in the regular stream of things…)
I can look at all those pages and the thoughts expressed on them and see what I was pushing myself to do. I still need a lot of pushing. I need to look at ways in 2013 that I can refine that pushing in an effort to improve results.
But behind those numbers of pages is a troubling reality for me, something that needs immediate addressing, but which may not be possible to address and maybe my head is just going to explode. In 2012 while I was generating all those pages I finished very few paintings.
I had hoped that 2012 would be a huge painting year.
When I look at my year I can see how I made time for painting, but then the realities of life interrupted. OK, that happens. So the positive aspect of the intrusion of reality is that even though I couldn't paint I kept flexing my creative muscles, generating pages, working on skill sets I'd previously identified as necessary to focus on—like learning what the heck happens under a person's nose anyway and how you can draw that in one line!
(My goals are often small.)
If you read this blog for some sort of creative inspiration or push (and so many of you write in and tell me that you do) I hope that what you take away from this post is that I believe it's better to have a little bit of art and creativity every day, than to go through long dry periods without.
I have found that because I kept pushing myself when distractions and conditions presented themselves for my attention I was ready to go when opportunities presented for extended art efforts. I didn't have to jump from zero to 80 miles per hour because I was always going along at a steady 30 mph.
I have found this to be true throughout my life. But this year it was present in high relief. There was no ignoring it, let's just say that.
I also cut myself a little slack. I still haven't scanned images from my 2012 State Fair journal. Too much happened at that time. The goal of that time was to just make it to the Fair and get some sketching in. I did that. Goal accomplished. Even if the universe tells you there isn't time to do the one thing you love—don't believe it. It's a mirage. You can do it.
Because of the events of this past year I've scaled back my involvement in outside activities. I teach less. Additionally now that there are so many opportunities in the Twin Cities for people to go out and sketch in groups (beyond the events that I've personally pushed and organized to encourage sketchers of all types) I decided that it was time for me to focus on my solo sketching again. The last 6 months have been a great time for me to return to following my own internal clock for sketching desires without external input. I intend to continue in this vein.
I started a painting project this fall (dog portraits) where I would meet with the dogs in their yards and sketch them and then go home and paint. Unfortunately I managed to work out the 90 minutes with the dogs, through the graciousness of their owners, but the returning home to paint portion—well there were just too many doctor's visits with the folks, or other deadlines. For the first time that I can remember I actually had to instantly recast a project because it wasn't going to work out similar to anything I had envisaged.
I'm happy to say that the project is now on a slower track and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. While I will still end with paintings from all this effort, the project has turned out as you might have suspected—Roz just really likes to draw dogs. Since she doesn't have one, she's going to want to come over to your house and sketch yours. It's that simple.
The end of each year is a time for me to take my emotional, physical, and artistic temperature. And then set up new goals for the coming year. (I also do this quarterly, so I know I can self correct before the end of next year.)
As mentioned above I'll be continuing my dog project. I'm going to increase the time I spend at life drawing. I'm going to increase my solo sketch outs to 2011 levels.
Now that I'm used to the new camera I got before the 2012 Minnesota State Fair I'm actually going to make a video of that book and post it soon, in the new year! (It's an easy goal I can check off the list quickly.)
I've cleared out old work and jobs from the studio and I've purged the shelves of books and supplies that will not have a chance with me in the future. Going forward I feel this will also allow me to move on a couple projects I wanted to show you on the blog, but never got around to posting—some reviews and my trip to Wisconsin this fall.
The rumor that I am joining the Peace Corps is in fact not true. The rumor that I may take up improv is less untrue.
Also in 2013 I am going to change the format for my visual journal over the next several months—for reasons I'll make clear to you when they become more clear to me.
Now I'd better go and read that stack of books on the table so I can meet that last goal of "reviews."
I don't put a lot of emphasis on December 31 as a special day, because I really do believe you can decide on any day that "this is the day" you change, improve, begin a new project, discover your vocation, or simply relax.
I think change is both the easiest thing we do as humans and the hardest. I appreciate you spending time with me, just about every day, thinking about things we enjoy in common and sometimes thinking about things that frustrate us on varying levels.
I always enjoy hearing from you about your own creative journeys. And I appreciate the attention you spend on Roz Wound Up. I hope you have a 2013 that is filled with goals that push you, but which you meet—after the usual second act slump of indecision and hitting the wall. That's where it gets fun.