Today we are returning emails that were sent here a year ago. These were New Year’s Resolutions, your private and confidential pacts that we offered to archive for 365 days. You can read about my offer and my own ill-fated plans at New Year’s Resolutions. Please feel free to drop off your 2003 resolutions. We’ll send them back to you in exactly a year.
Among your last year’s resolutions were plans to beef up productivity. The low was “ten paintings in 2002” — the high was “four hundred 16 x 20s.” Several promised to “paint a painting a day.” Most artists were focused in the middle ranges — one hundred to two hundred. Some added, “signed and delivered.” One email contained only the curious number “109.” I wondered if this might be the projected figure on the bathroom scale. Perhaps the previous year was “110.”
Then there were the self-improvers — those who would overcome procrastination, laziness, sloth, distraction, addiction. (booze, drugs, cigarettes, men, women) Many artists were trying to finger the devils that held them back. Some admitted that replacing old habits might be difficult. One artist resolved to be “a lot nicer” to her husband while continuing to “keep a lot of plates in the air.” Another wrote, “I resolve to paint like I was making love to a man I love and hunger for with the abandonment of sensual pleasure.” Yet another simply vowed to get kicked out of art school.
“This year there will be no flying with crows,” said one, and “Mind my own business,” said another. More than anything, artists are people who are bent on becoming more “evolved.” This one was typical: “Feel good about myself and what I do. Take yoga time. Take quiet time. Be more creative every day. Dream, dream, dream and script about how I want my life and career to be. Follow my heart. Live every day. Keep my art journal. Keep going. Keep happy.”
PS: “Plan like a turtle; paint like a rabbit.” (Edgar A. Whitney)
Esoterica: This year I failed big-time on my resolutions. I resolved to drive around the world in one of my vintage cars and paint a picture every day. I was talked out of it by our Russian friends. Also, for a while, I couldn’t get the car started. The second part of my resolution happened to work out okay.
The following are selected responses to the above and other letters. Thanks for writing.
Chase the elusive secret
William Dudley Gilhooley
My resolutions for 2003? To live my life as fully as I can despite any imperfections. To work harder at my art and once again chase that elusive secret. My elusive secret? I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the moment when all the hard work falls into place and it dawns on me what I need to do to make art. Maybe it’s the time my eyes open properly and I start seeing the things I should see. Maybe it’s the moment I can reach inner peace, who knows?
Resolutions cover all bases
It is my commitment to continue living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of my body, spirit and soul. I will strive to create at least one small piece of art daily and engage myself in art fairs in the spring, summer, fall and winter. I will develop a web plan, enter into a juried art show and teach at least one class.
Respond to ‘artist within’
Anne Alain, Ottawa, Canada
Hopefully 2003 will give me the direction I need to respond to the ‘artist within.’ I’m having trouble breaking away from the very conventional and sometimes contrived influences in art. The reason, no doubt, is due to the fact that I am so new to any formal instruction. I do however, feel the need to express myself more fully and more honestly in my work with the freedom to break all of the rules and draw from within. This is my resolve.
Appreciate being able to communicate in this fashion and do value your views on many things.
Paint in enamels
This year I intend to follow George Stubbs and learn to paint in enamels on an earthenware or metal support. Eventual size of support around 4 x 6 feet. Should be interesting to see if the earthenware can technically make that size without cracking.
I really like the non-changing quality of enamels with time and the lack of reactivity as experienced with Zn0/Ti02 Dupont treated rutile.
I shall keep to my practice of 1 oil painting a year. Size will expand to 4′ x 6′ and beyond. So maybe it will become 1 painting every 2 years and I can spend more time on composition and mood in a painting.
I need to upgrade my drawing standards. Time to also read some new literature, Science and just Literature.
Judi A. Gorski, San Francisco, USA
I just finished reading the letter about the New Year’s Resolutions and saw Ann Templeton’s response to a person who resolved to paint one painting a day. She said, “One a day? You must never have to wash clothes, dishes, floors; cook, do bookwork … ” etc. It was such a delight to read that! It is great to be a painter and to resolve to get your self-expression out there in a productive way, but to produce that kind of a volume, one would have to give up all other forms of activity or produce a lot of quickly done, not well thought out pieces that perhaps would not be a series of masterpieces. Her response was so great and to the point. Scowling as I was, it put a quick smile on my face and made me feel that she would be a great person to talk to and to complain with. So I sent her an e-mail telling her this.
I live and work as a full time painter in San Francisco. My full time painting is interrupted by all of the chores listed in her response and I am sometimes unable to produce more than a few completed paintings a year … ten or less. With the help of making giclee prints of my paintings, this has not proven to be a total financial loss, although of course, more good paintings would mean more good sales in the ideal world. My New Year’s resolutions regarding my artwork are to have a website up and running and to have been a part of at least three art shows by this time next year.
Paint with abandon
Well, it’s time to unfold another page, brave the barren white paper with new abandon. My painting is feeling confined and I need to free it. Release what I expect it to be and open myself to each painting’s potential more.
I will follow that internal river that roars in my ears and flows, sometimes not noticed, past my psyche of what I “should” paint for sales. Step into the river. That’s my plan and my hope for myself. Trust that the weight of what I have to say will remain buoyant and that the river will take me where I need to go.
Beproductive and fulfilled
Patricia Neil Lawton
I firmly resolve to be a better agent for my work. I resolve to stop teaching. To complete more paintings “of mothers and children,” of women doing womanly things. To give acrylic paintings a fairer try, take more time with each acrylic painting. To draw less before I start my watercolor paintings. To paint the illustrations for the children’s books I’ve been wanting to write for fifteen years and to at least write down the ideas for the stories.
Nurture and celebrate
Most of this year was spent trying to recover from a serious illness so I lovingly look forward to planning 2003. First, to smile at people who look so tragic. I remember feeling like they look. Second, to celebrate my art with a sketch or painting every day. Third, to share my talents with those who need the art of recovery. If I can do this, I will be a grateful artist and human being.
Donna Brower Watts, Aloha, Oregon, USA
What a great idea! I usually forget where I wrote down the marvelous resolutions I made long before I get any of them accomplished. So 1) Work on the more abstract paintings I have been trying to do and make them into better works of art and design. 2) Get my new portfolio perfected and out to at least ten galleries by years end. 3) Become more involved in the art community in my area 4) Get the move over and the new studio (wherever that turns out to be) up and organized and running smoothly. 5) Keep the business end of my art better organized. 6) Do more sketching and plein air work. 7) Study, study, study — the computer stuff, the business stuff, and just to be a better artist and teacher. Well, I may think of more, but if I manage to do these, I think I’ll have reason to be pleased. Be interesting to see next year just where I really am, artistically and geographically.
More ambitious plans
Susannah Wagner Merritt
I resolve that in 2003, I will: #1 Paint and finish more large paintings and keep the better ones. #2 Start a collection of miniatures and mount them in gold, for a show in November. (I’m slow, but I finally figured out how to combine painting and jewellery.) #3 Divide paintings into two groups; for a one “man” show and one with my sister Lillian. #4 Arrange the dang shows. #5 (40). #6 Divide nieces and nephews into groups of 10 and gift the older ones with a painting each. #7 Start the process for Art tours of Savannah with Lillian. #8 Make that Happen. #9 Go somewhere new and paint there. #10 Make many prints.
Goals not resolutions
No resolutions. I’ll give you an opinion about resolutions though. It’s been my observation that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work and the reason is that they are based on guilt or a “should” mentality. It’s not that the person may not want to enact their resolutions; it’s just that they haven’t fully accepted them into their very being and believe that they are capable of accomplishing them. In other words, they have been headed in the direction of their present thoughts or habits for a long time and the thought or new habit of the Resolution is not ingrained, nor fully believed and accepted; and therefore, not their focus.
Goals are great. Making an effort daily to move in the direction of your desires is wonderful. Reviewing your desires on an on-going basis works. And accepting one’s self and feeling appreciation for this wonderful world is the ultimate.
Me and My Art
Gia Tkabladze, Kutaisi, Georgia
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