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Art Goals - 2007

WARNING TO FELLOW EDM SUPERBLOG SUBSCRIBERS: This is a long blog entry written primarily for my own self-reflection and planning.  I can't believe that anyone else will be interested enough to stay with me to 2007 Goal #8 .... 

Members of the Everyday Matters Group are being very reflective and sharing their ideas about their journey through art in 2006 and their personal goals for 2007.  I'm really enjoying reading each of their blog entries and simultaneously thinking about my own.

Throughout my life, I have had the need to regularly create something with my own hands and the majority of my creations were focused on textiles and needlework.  I drew reasonably well as a child and could always copy photos to make patterns for my textile work.  But I described myself as a "copier."  I also love books and was especially attracted to travel sketchbooks - thinking that I could never take the time, nor have the skills, to keep one myself.  Although I love art of all styles and time periods, I gravitate to artist's drawings - usually preparatory for their big oils - and any work they did in watercolor. 

I have had a wonderful career as an academic physician employed by medical schools first in Texas and then in New York City - and raised 3 fantastic kids.  My husband and I are entering our 40th anniversary year and I'm now only working 3 days per week and regularly helping care for one or another of our baby grandchildren.  This was a perfect time for me to set new goals and expand my own interests and skills. 

This new phase of my life started on Mother's Day 2003 with the gift card purchase of Gwen Diehn's book The Decorated Page, and continued slowly while I worked on textile projects for the weddings of both of my sons in 2004 and 2005.  Then during late summer 2005 I found many illustrated blogs and the EDM group.  This single event really changed my own goals by providing me with a community from whom to learn and be inspired.  From September through December 2005 I sketched EDM challenges from the past in black ink in a spiral sketchbook and kept up with the new weekly challenges.  I then set goals for 2006 - and listened carefully when EDM members said that the only way to improve was to sketch daily and experiment. 

Accomplishments for 2006: 

1.  I completed a daily sketch - pen with watercolor wash - every day except 2.  But on many other days I did two pages in my sketchbooks.  This was the single most important accomplishment because it really did improve my eye-hand coordination, but more than that took me beyond the fear of a blank page.  Some evenings I was so tired after long days at work that I could only sketch and paint a rubber band or binder clip, but forcing myself to take 15 minutes to fill a page was critical to the process.  I wrote about "Journal Angst" for the first EDM challenge of 2006 and now have settled on a large watercolor Moleskine for my daily paintings and several Cachet Linen series watercolor journals for my London journals. 

2.  I developed a blog on January 4, 2006 and uploaded an EDM Challenge and at least one other series of sketches each week.  This regular activity helped me stay focused and as a wonderful surprise I made many new friends through sharing my life, my work, and my artistic struggles.

3.  I worked on a single color for some of my sketches each month - January through June.  I have cool and warm primary Winsor-Newton artist grade tube paints and I needed to learn how to mix secondary and complementary colors. It was fun to collect objects around our apartment and to try to recreate their colors in my paintings.    I think that I learned so much about my own palette and have added only several additional colors during the year for a total of 11.

4.  I am now completing my second full London sketchbook during our 4th visit to our daughter and her family since she moved to London in May 2006.  I found out that I really can travel around a city and find a few minutes to sketch "live."  I usually take enough photos to paint the sketch when I get back to her house each day.  I have a great Daler-Rowney travel watercolor set and 2 Niji waterbrushes which I bring with me, but find that I usually don't want to paint until later.  The combination of a sketch and several photos is perfect for my current style of sketching while traveling.

5.  I bought some book-binding tools, followed Jan Alsop's excellent instructions, and recycled a book on Queen Elizabeth I that I bought for one pound on Charing Cross Road.  I can't wait to try the 3 types of watercolor paper that I mixed in the new signatures.  I will use this for London sketches of some variety - still to be determined.

6. I painted one "larger-than-sketchbook size" piece - a sketch of my son's new house in DC  - as a gift.  I then sketched and painted a Christmas wreath and candle per his request so he could layer the images and create their Christmas card on Photoshop.  One of their friends, who by chance we met at the Imperial War Museum this week, wrote them that it was their favorite Christmas card this year, but not to twll any of their friends with children!

7.  I made watercolor paintings on cards and postcards to mail to my grandchildren.  They love mail and really love giving me orders. It gives me great pleasure to see them play with my paintings of their favorite book, video, TV characters. 

8.  I read several wonderful books on keeping travel sketchbooks - each with pen and ink and watercolor.  Each of these books were instructional art books in addition to examples of one or more artists' own travel sketchbooks.

Goals for 2007:

1. Continue to sketch/paint everyday in my large Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

2. Complete each EDM weekly challenge and try to expand my skills by what I choose to paint for the challenge.

3. Make plans for how I will use my new Eliz. I recycled book.  I'm currently considering using it for more London sketches -  from photos that I have taken during our visits.  I have another Cachet journal for London Volume 3 and decided that I want to continue to use the same journal type for all of my London travel. 

4.  Recycle another book since I have more paper from my previous purchase.  This time I will look for an old New York book that I can use for special days out and about my own city.

5.  Spend more time sketching human faces and figures.  I'm not sure yet whether I want to take any life drawing classes because I love the challenge of learning on my own.  I collected some copies of Holbein's portraits and Rodin's figure drawings from our museum visits this week.  And I now own two Hockney drawing/portrait books.  I will recreate some of these pieces from the 16th C, 19th C, and 20th C for fun and then immerse myself in my city and draw people to try to develop my own style. 

6.  Read some of the new art books on my shelf - starting with Betty Edward's book on color.

7.  Make a "larger-than-journal size" watercolor of the house my daughter and son-in-law rented this year in London so we have a personal visual memory of this wonderful year when they return to New York mid-year.

8.  Be a visitor in my own city and keep a Manhattan "travel" journal.  I now have scattered journal pages throughout my daily sketchbooks. 


Shirley -- what a thoughtful and provocative post -- beautifully written, my friend ... May we continue to encourage one another thru 2007! And with fingers crossed, maybe we can meet sometime this year .... HAPPY NEW YEAR, MIA CARA!

Well, I read every word! It is so nice to know more about your history and what you bring to your art life, Shirley. I've been so impressed by and interested in your London sketchbooks. You seem to have really figured out what works for you, with regard to materials and technique, to make the kind of sketches your exciting life calls for.
Happy New Year and best of luck in 2007. I look forward to seeing your new work.

Shirley, what a wonderful list - full of projects, yet all seem linked organically. I look forward to your sketchbooks and drawings in 2007! Happy New Year!

I love your goal of being a visitor in your own city - I may have to adopt that for my photography goal this year! Your drawings have brought me such joy this year - I loved seeing the world through your eyes. I have absolutely no skill at drawing, so I always love seeing it from others.

I think this is a well thought out list that you will enjoy tackling. Your last goal of being a visitor in your own city is a great one. I was just thinking the other night that it is so much easier to find something to sketch when on vacation. Thanks for the inspiration to look again with fresh eyes.

You have certainly made tremendous growth this year Shirley and my personal favorites are the London sketches. They are so wonderful.

Your goals are certainly well thought out and I know you will achieve them!! I hope 2007 is the best year ever.

What a well thought out plan! I very much admire you for drawing daily this past year, and your travel ideas sound wonderful. Happy 2007! :-)

Thanks for dropping by my blog, and thanks for the encouraging comments :)
I really enjoyed reading your post on your creative life, and your goals- I think you will have MANY people who stick with you t watch as your goals unfold into wonderful things to look at.

I really enjoyed reading your well-thought out plans and look forward to seeing the outcome. Congratulations on your accomplishments for 2006. I was delighted when reading through them to remember the ones that you posted. It's such a treat and privilege to be part of this wonderful community of artists!

Thanks for sharing your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through and seeing your paintings/sketches. It gave renewed courage to continue on painting, growing, in spite of being 56, single again and insecure in my ability. Mostly, your words uncovered the artistic spark that still is hiding in my soul.

Also, my mum put me in ballet class at 3 til I was 7. Then a terrible car accident put me in a body cast for 6 months. The muscles in my legs were never the same. But the love of ballet is eternal, no? A lovely lady artist gave me oil paints when I was in caste and so began the love of art. Just a little encouragement lights a fire in a child.

I wish I had a digital to put my artwork on Everydaymatters too and get some feedback. Perhaps later this year...

Thanks again so much for sharing your artwork. BTW, I was born, raised in Houston, Texas but now live in Seattle, Wa. Going to Galveston to visit next month and sketch the Gulf.

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