Above: My year-end assessment, usually made around Thanksgiving, of how many journal pages I have to finish. This year I was testing a lot of commercially bound journals and had a bunch of journals going. This page was scanned before the Large Nostalgie was filled on 12.30.16, and before the Loose Sheets and Bell Museum project could be totaled. I mention a grid-lined journal in my list. It didn't get finished. I decided two days after making this list that it was really mostly notes and because of the paper turning out to be different from what I'd hoped wasn't useful for visual journaling. It will go on the shelf with the writing journals. Also the small Nostalgie I'd been carrying around in my purse—I decided that wouldn't get filled either because my trips out were going to be to the Bell Museum working on 9 x 12 inch paper and I wouldn't get enough other trips in to finish that book. It was more important to keep a small book in my pack and protect my shoulder. On the recto page above you see some running totals. There you can see where I work out how many spreads I have to do each day to finish the various journals. There may be math errors. One year I was so off I finished all my journals well in advance of the end of the year and had to start another journal. It amuses me to finish them before the end of the year, simply because I like to start a new journal on January 1, and because of the way I label and index my journals. Those uncounted sketches in the small Nostalgie sketchbook will go into next year's totals as I suspect it will be volume A17! (To see how I index my journals you can click here.) Also, if you're a regular reader you'll know that I don't recommend Fabriano Venezia journals any longer because of faulty binding (though the paper is mighty fun to work on so if you can get past the binding go ahead and play). I still have a couple of these 9 x 12 inch journals that I will use as studio journals until I use them up, and that's what you see me doing above. Most of the pages in this journal were sketches for projects and paintings or studies or studio generated notes like this. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I like to end every year with a self-evaluation. Since starting the blog in 2008 I’ve often had an end of year post about my year-end-wrap up.
This year is a little tricky for me—after resisting for 10 days I succumbed to Dick’s cold and for the past 8 days my head has been too congested to think sharply. But I’m not one to be put off easily. And self-evaluation time is also a great time to be grateful.
I have a lot to be grateful for.
The obvious thing I have to be grateful for is my health! Cough, cough, yes, you heard me correctly. I am grateful for my good health. If I had not caught Dick’s cold I was going to post a very humorous piece about how few sick days there had been in the work place. (There is only one person in my work place!)
While 2014-2015 was a tough time with flu, a cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia once I recovered from all that I enjoyed over 18 months of nary a sniffle! (Well there were some allergy-related sniffles and sneezes, but you get the idea.)
It seems an impossible record to me especially since regular visits to the folks put me in line of their colds and every little bug that whips through their residence. And let’s not forget walking through clouds of coughs at the Minnesota State Fair and the Bell Museum. (I think there is actually a parental guidebook that states, “If your grade school child comes down with pertussis, pneumonia, or any other coughing disease you should take him/her to the Bell Museum to share those germs!" I have never been in the Bell Museum without the echo of an explosive cough breaking through the bird call tape loop.)
Every day we all get exposed to germs when we grocery shop, go to wellness appointments, stop to pick up the dry cleaning, buy postage stamps, and so on. I’m amazed and grateful that after having such a weakened immune system I bounced back stronger than ever!
It may have made me a little too cocky. I over did some physical activities this year. (I keep forgetting how old I am since I almost always feel about eight years old.) But despite having back-related issues for a month at the end of the summer I managed to log 2,530 miles even! (Because I do keep track of tenths of a mile!)
That’s not the best riding year, but it’s respectable. If I had started peddling in Philadelphia, I could have gone all the way to Las Vegas and still had 60 some miles to spare! I’m pleased with that. Currently I’m peddling away inside while I catch up on episodes of “Midsomer Murder Mysteries” and “iZombie.” (To name just a few of the shows I need to catch up on—which allows me to be grateful for the snow when all I want to do is grumble about it.)
I’m hoping for an early spring (which I define not by daffodils coming through the snow—however lovely a sight that is—but by ice off the roads and bike paths) so that I can start in on a new outside miles total soon.
Yes, plenty to be grateful for—I have a great massage therapist David Wicklund from The Doorway to Better Health, who made each of those 2,530 miles possible. He makes sure that my shoulders release after hours of computer and drawing table work. If you’re local and want to stay active, I recommend you schedule time with David.
And staying active is important as eldercare has shown me. If you don’t deal with your physical limitations when they first appear they’ll get ahead of you and limit your quality of life. The good news is that both of Dick’s folks, despite increased frailty, are still going strong. You’ll see more sketches of them once I get over the crud in my lungs.
The end of year wrap up is also a time for me to look at my journal page productivity. I like to use it as a gauge of how balanced my life as whole is, personal art versus work, that sort of thing.
And I like to use this indicator as a way to plan what I’ll do in the future.
Right now the totals are not in (I’ll update after any additional work from Saturday is totaled in), but close enough.
This year I filled 19 journals, volumes A through N. I may work in volume N again tomorrow (it’s a loose-sheets journal at the Bell Museum so that total isn’t in yet). I didn’t include my Minnesota State Fair journal in the lettered group as it’s always “extra” but I do include the pages. I managed to fill 52 pages and 19 boards with animal and people sketches at this year’s Fair—71. (It's all in a box and I still hope to get the flip through up early in the new year.)
A through M = 1102
Plus 71 (State Fair)
Plus 95 (volume N so far)
Loose Sheets Journal (not totaled yet)
So that’s a total so far of 1,268 pages.
I never count my IFJM journal because, hey, I didn’t do those pages did I?
That’s a good total, well within the average I try to hit each year. I think it will end up over 1,300. We’ll see at the end of the day tomorrow.
Meanwhile I have a lot to be grateful for in that number because it means that I was able, despite a busy work schedule, to continue to make time for what I’ve found is necessary creative outlet.
What I’m sad about is that most of those journals this year were commercially bound. They were journals like the Seawhite of Brighton and Shinola that I purchased to test. Only a few of these journals were made by me with paper I was anxious to work on.
Since my shoulders are doing great (thanks to David) I had hoped to bind this fall, but other things kept interrupting. I have some paper to tear early in the new year. I'm looking forward to it.
The bright side of using commercially bound journals (because we are pushing gratitude here) is that I was challenged to push with unfamiliar papers and to try new approaches. The use of watercolor boards for my IFJM and MN State Fair Journals pushed me to revisit watercolor. Purchase of the Hahnemühle Nostalgie Journal in the fall had me pushing gouache around again even if I didn’t think “I had the time.”
That’s one of the best things about a daily visual journaling habit—you bust the myth of time wide open.
You do have the time to put in that daily effort.
And if you have the time to put in that effort and you take only a little more time to analyze and look at your results, you can actually craft your time—your use of your time—to focus on where you want to grow, how you want to tailor your explorations so that they support your art goals.
It’s the reason I encourage all my drawing students to sit down on a regular basis (every 6 weeks or at least once a quarter) and look back over their journals and gauge where they are in relation to their art goals, what they still need to do, what research or study they need to make, and how they can reassess their goals to be meaningful in their lives as they are living them at that moment.
As this year ends I encourage you all to do that as well. If you don’t know where you are right now you can’t hope to get where you want to go, because you won’t know which intermediate steps you need to take.
Go to my Categories List and click on “Self-evaluations.” Read a couple and get a sense of the types of questions you might find useful to ask yourself. Here is just a small sampling of what you’ll find those self-evaluation posts
I believe the most important thing you can do for your creative life is to take regular stock of your direction. And if you hold the beginning of a new year as a propitious time to start a new journey, then it’s also a wonderful time to take a look at your work and set goals for where you want to go in 2017.
I wish you a thorough, thoughtful, and healthy evaluation. It will be healthy if you remember that you are not comparing yourself to someone else, you are just looking at whether or not you met your art goals and how you might better meet them in the future. It will be healthy if you remember that YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE.
And with work, or as I like to say, practice (which I think is incredibly fun, even when it’s difficult) you will get there.
But you have to start from where you are right now, in the present moment. It’s the only way to go forward.
Do so with gratitude for all the wonderful things you were able to do this past year, all the friends and family you were able to support and share with, all the friends and family who in turn brightened your day, and the people who challenged you to step up and be authentic (even if sometimes you had to stop and count to ten!).
Thanks for reading another year of Roz Wound Up. While I’ve crunched the numbers I haven’t worked out yet what my personal focus for 2017 will be. I’ll save that for next week when the snot has left my brain. I do know that there will be more Roz Wound Up classes, I’ll keep you posted as soon as the schedule is set.
I look forward to working with you in class or hearing from you on the blog. I hope your 2017 is filled with sketches and that you make great strides toward your creative goals. As always, I'm grateful that you stopped by.