Tag Archives: goals

Painting and Paperwork

I seriously considered not writing a post today. I’m in a new year and I haven’t made any promises or commitments yet. I am under no obligation to publish something today. I could let it go. I could give it a rest. I could take a week off.

I could do that, but I just keep thinking about that lovely progress report WordPress sends me at the end of the year, and how pretty that chart looks when there’s a post every Wednesday. That nice, straight line calls out to me from the future and begs me not to let it down. I don’t have a new goal, but I do love that straight line.

I may not set a creative goal for this blog year. I know I want to paint, but what I want to do with that is just keep learning more about working en plein air. I don’t know if a new goal would help or hinder that effort. My last goal did get me to do forty paintings in just a few weeks and that was what taught me that I love painting outdoors, but I am not sure I want to have another Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

I may yet decide that I do. It won’t be this week, though. This week, I am too busy giving myself a hard time for putting off my income tax spreadsheets until the last half of March. I have started them, but I haven’t finished them. They are not difficult, but they are tedious. Most years, I start working on them in January in order to have the business information together, or at least starting to come together, by the time the W2 forms and 1099 forms start arriving.

All those forms are here now. I have even received a corrected form that replaces one that came in January or February. I just need those spreadsheets for the business and I will be ready to bounce the income tax ball into the Accountant’s court. I have finished all the easy ones. That leaves Cost of Goods Sold, which can’t be calculated until I value my inventory. That’s the hard part. I can sit down and add up all my other expenses in a single session at the desk top, but valuing my inventory takes days.

I will get there. I have begun it and I will finish it. Then maybe I will be able to think about painting again.

Palette Mess

Palette Mess


I guess I should clean out my palette first.

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New Paintings

Last week, I was celebrating the completion of a successful blog year and wondering how the new one would go. I wasn’t ready to set a new blog goal, but I did say I would keep painting. I cleaned out my Sta-wet palette and gave myself permission to rest on my laurels for a while. To be honest, I wasn’t sure when I would be painting again and I was a little worried that I would put it off. Putting things off seems to be what I do best.

Saturday morning rolled around and I prepared for my usual trip to the flea market. Saturday is the one day of the week when I almost always get out and about by myself for a while. I choose the flea market because I’m a morning person and the flea market opens early. They let the buyers and the sellers in at the same time, so I usually just park for a while and read a magazine while I wait for the sellers to set up. I was thinking about this, and looking around for magazines to bring, when I remembered the pretty cedar tree I can see from my favorite parking spot.

The tree had been the subject of one of the tiny paintings that helped me meet my blog goal. I caught it at sunrise with some pinkish clouds in the background and it was fun to paint. I thought about that and I suddenly really wanted to bring paints with me to the flea market again. I tried to talk myself out of the idea. I had overslept. I didn’t have time to get my paints together and still get to that parking lot at my usual time. Then I remembered that a new piece of palette paper would have to soak for fifteen minutes before I could use it.

“That’s it,” I thought, “I just don’t have time to make this happen today.”

That would have been the end of it, but I had another voice in my head that said, “Are you going to give up that easily? Just put the paper in the water and start loading up the rest of your gear while you’re waiting.”

This may be hard to believe, but I actually listened to that voice. When I left the house last Saturday morning, I had my painting supplies with me. I was late and I missed out on my favorite parking spot at the flea market. I circled through and I moved on. I drove to a local park. It has lots of pretty trees and it also has a pond. I parked by the pond and I painted what I could see from my car. Then I painted something else that I could see from my car. I started with tiny canvases because they are less intimidating.

Two Tiny Paintings

Two Tiny Paintings


When I had finished two of those, I decided to move the car. I drove to another part of the park and I pulled out an 8” x 10” canvas. Again, I painted what I could see from my car. Some of it, anyway. I edited the scene for space and composition. I’m allowed to do that. It’s a painting, not a photograph.
One Larger Painting

One Larger Painting


One thing I know for sure: if I’m going to paint outdoors in Florida, I’m going to have to learn how to paint palmettos.

Wednesday Again

It’s Wednesday. Even though it’s a new blog year, I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to keep blogging on Wednesdays. I reserve the right to change my mind, of course. It’s a new year, after all. I could switch to a different day. I could switch to just putting up a post whenever I feel like it. It’s my blog. It’s not as if I will be reported to the blog police if I go crazy and change my commitment.

The day may come when I change that commitment, but it is not this day. This day is Wednesday and I will publish a blog post. I have no idea whether I will make a new creative commitment for the new blog year. I’m still catching my breath from meeting the last one. It took a huge push in the last nineteen days but I managed to finish fifty plein air paintings before my blogiversary. Most of them are tiny, but there are fifty of them and I do get a kick out of looking at them and remembering where I was when I painted them.

If you’ve been following along, you know that was mostly my own yard, but I did actually drive to some local parks for some of them. I find I still need to work out logistics. I can get all my stuff out the door in one trip, but it takes me at least three to bring it all back in, when the canvases and brushes are wet. Maybe I’ll decide to work on that in my new blog year. I know I will keep painting.

It was fun to show off my paintings to my grandsons when they came over for birthday cake. I believe I heard the words, “Holy crap!” when they saw all my little canvases. They were impressed by the sheer number, of course, but they also admired my trees. My middle grandson has been particularly supportive of my efforts. He was the first person besides myself to own one of my paintings. I was honored when he asked. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether people are just being polite when they say they like my paintings but young children are notoriously honest. When he says he likes my work, I believe him.

The important thing, of course, is that I like my work. I do like it. I can see massive imperfections in all of my paintings, but I still like them. I can look at each one of them and see some tiny thing that works. It might just be one bit of light on the underside of a leaf and I might not even understand how I did it or why it works but it still gives me hope. It works. If I did it once, in a tiny way, there’s no reason I can’t learn to do it more and more, if I just keep painting.

I will keep painting. I have no idea what shape my new blog year will take, but I know that. I will keep painting.

Even More Paintings

I’ve been keeping up with my painting this week but I have to admit, I got a little discouraged a couple of days ago. I was working on something with a small building in it and I could not get the perspective right on that building. My left brain kept telling me that the roof was a big rectangle and it wouldn’t listen when my right brain tried to tell it that all I could see of it was a thin rhombus. I could not get my left brain to let go of that rectangle. I tried for a while and then I just got frustrated and gessoed over the whole canvas.

That was one of those times when my inner critic had a field day. It told me I could not paint at all. It told me that I would never be able to paint and I should just give up. It said that I wasn’t getting any better; I was just getting worse. It went on and on but it couldn’t stop me because I have a much louder voice in me that says, “You set a goal. You must do everything in your power to meet it.”

I still felt as if things were not going well, but I knew I had to keep painting. Even right up until this morning, I would look at all of the paintings I had done this week and see nothing but problems. I hated every one of them and the only reason I didn’t give up was that pesky goal I had set for my third blog year. I needed two paintings a day, so I had to create two paintings a day. I kept going.

When I started working on today’s paintings, I was worried that I would just be toughing out my painting time to meet my goal. I was afraid that I would hate my paintings. I was afraid that I would never like any of my paintings again. All those fears fell away when I finally picked up a brush and started painting. I got lost in the process and I had fun. When the paintings were finished, I liked them.

I brought them inside and put them with the other paintings I had done this week. Something in me had shifted while I was working on the new paintings. Now I could look at the others and see that they were not all completely lame. There were problems, sure, but there were also things that worked.

In seven days, I did fifteen paintings and only eleven of them are tiny. I got brave enough to try a 5” x 7”, a couple of 8” x 10”s and one 12” x 12”. I don’t hate these paintings. I look at them now and I see progress.

Six Tiny Paintings

Six Tiny Paintings


Five Tiny Paintings

Five Tiny Paintings


Two Trees

Two Trees


Two Trees Again

Two Trees Again


Magnolia Tree

Magnolia Tree


Maple Tree

Maple Tree


That’s all I need to see.

A Few More Paintings

At the end of last week’s blog post, I said, “Two down, thirty-eight to go.” It sounded impossible when I said it, but I was still determined to meet my blog goal of creating fifty plein air paintings before my third blogiversary, which is also my sixty-second birthday. That’s February eighth. Once I did the math, I knew I needed two paintings per day, plus an extra two somewhere along the line, to meet my goal.

Today, that goal feels slightly less impossible. These may be tiny, but there are fourteen of them, and I painted them since my last blog post.

Six Tiny Pictures

Six Tiny Pictures


Eight Tiny Pictures

Eight Tiny Pictures


I know I can do three in one day because I had to do it a couple of days this week to make up for the fact that I did not paint on Saturday. That was the day we had snow flurries. I’m sure there are intrepid painters in places other than Florida who would think nothing of painting in such weather, but I stayed inside that day, covered in fleece blankets and drinking hot beverages. I have no regrets.

I hope to move further afield eventually, but all of these itty bitty paintings were done from my back yard or front yard. I wanted to paint and I wanted to make it as easy as possible, so I would enjoy it and keep doing it. I didn’t pressure myself with expectations about quality; I just painted. I told myself that nothing mattered except the process. I’m learning from my mistakes, so I might as well make a lot of them.

I like these little paintings. I had fun painting them. When I line them up and look at them, I can see improvement from day to day. I’m getting better at painting trees. I’m getting better at painting sky. I’m even getting better at painting plastic pink flamingos.

It Starts

I set a new blog goal last week, so I was really hoping to have made some progress on that goal by now. All I had to do was paint something outdoors. The resistance was strong, though. I thought a lot about painting, but I didn’t paint. Yesterday, I even put on my painting clothes and set up my new Sta-Wet palette. Yes, I have a new Sta-Wet palette. If I have a stalker-type fan out there, you may remember that I gave myself a Sta-Wet Palette at the end of my first blog year, and then you never heard another thing about it.

Well, it turned out the original Sta-Wet palette had a problem. It wasn’t cute. I was shopping in an arts and crafts store recently and saw that there was such a thing as a cute Sta-Wet palette. I went back with a coupon and bought one. Here, you can plainly see the difference:

Not Cute vs Cute

Not Cute vs Cute

As soon as I had acquired a cute Sta-Wet palette, I was sure I would rush right home and use it to create the first of my fifty plein air paintings. I was reasonably sure. Anyway, I thought it might happen. I was wrong. I was tired. Something came up. No plein air painting occurred.

Not that day. Not the next day or the day after. Not yesterday, either. I was seriously looking at the possibility of having to write one more blog post about procrastination. I couldn’t face that, so this morning, I finally did something. I took my paints and my cute palette into the back yard and I looked around. My husband had been potting things up recently and a maple seedling caught my eye. I needed to paint something I found personally eye-catching and that was it.

Maple Seedling

Maple Seedling


It’s itty bitty, but I painted it outdoors, so it counts.

A New Goal

If you are a regular reader of this blog (there are a few of you out there – even one or two who are not related to me), you’re probably wondering when I’m going to set a goal for my third blog year. I’m six weeks into it and I haven’t said anything about a new goal. There’s a reason for that. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of not having a specific goal this year.

As a procrastinator, I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself in the last month of my blog year. January was intense this year. I met my goal of creating fifty paintings before my February 8th blogiversary and then I just collapsed for a while. I thought about new goals, but I couldn’t make myself commit to anything. I was blogging every week. Wasn’t that enough?

It’s something, that’s for sure, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough because I want to paint and I’m not painting. I don’t know why I’m not painting. I think about painting. I have paints. I have canvases. I have brushes and palettes and time. Why am I not painting? I fear it’s because I have a goal in mind, but it makes me a beginner again and I’m afraid to take it on.

I want to paint outdoors. I want to learn to be a plein air painter. If I set a goal of painting fifty paintings en plein air this year, I can’t just put off half of them until January. Even in Florida, January is not a great month for painting outdoors. I might have one or two nice days; I’m not going to have twenty-five. If I set this as a goal, I’m going to have to keep up with it. I’m going to have to do my painting while the sun shines. To complicate things, I have a day job as a tie-dye artist. This also requires working outdoors in reasonably good weather, and I’m about to enter my busy season.

I have plenty of good reasons for resisting this goal, but my heart wants me to take it on. I’ve been fighting my heart for weeks, but the heart wants what it wants. Who am I to argue with my deepest heart? Okay, okay, okay…I’m setting a new goal. I will paint fifty paintings before my next blogiversary and I will paint them outdoors.

There. I said it. Am I happy now?