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Make a Painter’s Resolution

Creative New Year’s Resolutions for Artists

Wow, was this past year as tough for you as it was for me? I felt unbalanced and a little bit like I was living in a tornado (cue the flying obstacles to dodge just like Dorothy did!). When those hectic times occurred, I would have to really boil down my priorities to the essentials. Strangely, instead of trying to do everything (and failing), I succeeded in clinging to what I was really committed to, but that was because I made choices and, again, didn’t try to do so much. If you are looking to set the tone for the year and set some creative New Year’s resolutions, see if any of these ways I plan to give my creativity its due inspire you. Cheers to a happy and creative New Year!!

Quality. Not quantity.

I want to spend more time critically assessing my compositions before picking up a brush. I want to sketch an idea, play with color options, and think it through — really enjoying (and not hurrying) through the process.

I was especially inspired to do this after studying the paintings of Anders Zorn, and seeing how often he created painting sketch upon painting sketch as he sought to figure out what moments he wanted to “keep” in a painting, and those that he wanted to leave out. Each one of these works is, to me, as gorgeous as any finished commission or painting, and so I want to get into a more prolonged process with my work and really play in the early stages and not rush to finish.

Get smart with compositions.

Another creative New Year’s resolution I’m taking on is trying to get savvy with my compositions. As a viewer, I am soooo incredibly drawn to paintings that have striking compositions or arrangements of elements that surprise me.

This doesn’t mean complicate my compositions, but get the most out of them. In fact, I’ve been especially drawn to Matisse’s still life arrangements lately. Seeing how he deliberately chose objects — using very few elements but placing them so effectively? It’s inspiring.

The more thoughtful the choices we make at this stage, the better our paintings can be. And for me that means bringing out the sketchbook and trying to see what works as well as spending time working with elements from life and really moving them around a space so I can see if I can stumble onto anything worthwhile!

Explore color.

In my personal style and in my home, there is color everywhere, but I tend to shrink away from trying to layer on more complex colors when it comes to painting. Another of my creative New Year’s resolutions is to embrace the color I love so much!

I don’t want to necessarily incorporate more color just for the sake of doing so, but I want to better utilize the colors I have. And I want to not be so scared of mixing colors poorly that I don’t mix them at all. That means seeing how altering values and taking more care with color mixing experimentation early in my process (spending time just mixing color and making notes of how and what I like and don’t) can help me achieve my ends.

Work with the negative.

Negative space is often an afterthought when I’m working on a piece, and I am still trying to remember the importance of giving the area around an object attention and visual weight. I want to come up with strategies to work better in this space, creating atmosphere and using texture and movement (and stillness) to communicate my ideas.

Don’t tighten up.

When painting, the best results often come about when you aren’t chasing perfection. I want to create work that is thoughtful and well-executed, but I also want to spend more time in the moment, responding immediately to what I see and assessing a painting as it progresses.

Your turn!

What are some of your art resolutions for this year? I’d love to hear them, along with any advice on how you think I can reach my own.

If any of the above resolutions resonate with you, be sure to check out our Best Seller’s Salefor art instruction that in some way helps with these major touchstones of making art. Each one of them can make a real difference in our painting practice. Enjoy!

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