It’s all very confidential of course, but this is the time of year when artists send us their New Year’s resolutions. The idea is that we send them back to you in 365 days. Today, as guaranteed, we are in sending mode.
Most frequent resolutions: Find inner peace. Work hard. Live a healthy lifestyle. Enter juried shows. Teach more classes. Stop teaching classes. Break away from the ordinary. Have more fun. Be more business oriented. Build a better website. Have a one-woman/man show. Stop doing shows. Find the artist within. Find my style.
Bad habits to overcome: Most mentioned were sloth, jealousy, distraction, procrastination and addiction. Of addiction, cigarette smoking was the most frequently mentioned. One mention of “billiards.”
Productivity worth achieving: Most were in the 100 to 200 works of art per year range. At the extremes, one artist resolved to paint a thousand watercolours, while another, whose name we cannot now find on the subscriber list, vowed “to keep to my practice of one oil painting a year.”
A peculiar resolution: “I will wash and clean my brushes five times a day.”
An esoteric resolution: “I will stop painting my red barns and chicken houses.”
A poetic resolution: “I will go where the wild goose goes, on wings of joy, winging ever south to my heart’s desire.”
A most wonderfully mixed metaphorical resolution: “I will follow the internal river that roars in my ears and flows, sometimes not noticed, past my psyche of what I “should” paint for sales. I’ll step into the river. I’ll 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.”
An example of a foreign language translation problematical resolution: “At figure work I intend to be a better nudist.”
PS: Use of the word “fool:” “I will paint like a fool.” (DW) “I will not fool myself anymore.” (AP) “I will stop fooling around.” (LL) “I will make love to canvas wildly and foolishly.”(KL)
Esoterica: I’ve found it’s bad to blab your plans. Telling people you are going to do something may interfere with your capacity to do it. Then again there are those who like their resolutions published in order to make a public proclamation of commitment. For many it’s just a good idea to confidentially register them somewhere. If you’re sending yours for 2004 please indicate if they are to be confidential. It’s my sincere wish that your New Year is as outrageous as you may resolve.
(RG note) Thanks to everyone who sent in their New Year’s resolutions. All of these, and others, as well as the confidential ones, will lie here silently in our safe and secure computers, unseen, almost forgotten, until they reappear like old ghosts in your inbox in 365 days.
For the future
by Eva Kosinski, Louisville, CO, USA
To make my art pertinent to my time. To use it to talk about the world I live in, and the people in it, rather than just explore the natural places that are calming. Those calming images may form the basis of my cash flow, but the real business should be mankind, warts and all. Art is one of the ways we view the life of other generations. Someone in our timeline ought to be trying to give the future something to understand about us.
by Kelly Borsheim, Cedar Creek, TX, USA
Although I do not celebrate New Year’s until the first day of Spring, I can still tell you some of my plans for 2004: I will go to Italy this spring. I will turn 40 this summer with the joy of a child. If 40 really is the top of the hill, then I will dance lots and enjoy the view! Other than that I agree with you that blabbing too soon may kill the momentum. Things usually take me longer to realize than I would like and sometimes telling out loud actually completes the project in my mind, rendering me uninterested in actually completing it before moving onto the next idea.
Gift to herself
by Johanna Pilar, Philippines
Your letters have nourished me and made me loudly curious about life. I’m 23 and I don’t remember when I first started to paint, only that I paint when I don’t want to think. It’s my gift to myself, my quiet time to renew myself, to play, to get lost. This year I will practice drawing facial expressions, with one satisfactory output everyday. This year will be the year that I learn how to do portraits. I will expand my craft, experiment with new media. I will paint more for others, to give what I can give. I will have my show this year.
Break through the block
by Jo Evans
I resolve to break through the heavy curtain — the artist’s block that has prevented me from producing any new work in two years. To draw or paint at least once a week to prove to myself that I am being productive. To give myself a set time each week to draw, paint or visualize so that I can again call myself an artist.
by Norma Greenwood, New York City, NY, USA
Putting it out there is the only way to make it real — so here goes — to re-discover my less traditional approach to art-making and make a new series of work that really excites me. Experiment, experiment and experiment!
Joy in creativity
by Cindy Stimmel
For my resolution in 2004 I wish to continue the journey to find that inside of me which is trying to break free — to find the poetry in my soul that I can express to my own satisfaction, and not to rely so much on others’ opinions; to find joy and not criticism in myself and my abilities to create.
Resolutions after a loss
by Linda Muttitt
With the recent death of my mother, my first thought is that I must transcend the sorrow and paint freely again. My brush has been still since her heart stopped. I want first to move my brush again. My will to be creative grows like a new plant under this cold, thick layer of snow that loss blankets me in. Do I push through this cover over my life, or do I wait, Buddhist-like, for the snow to melt, and for the sun to warm me into action? I resolve to stay ‘all pores open’ — to let the ideas flow in and flow out. And for my fingers, my heart, my head, my soul to stay connected while I paint. Rather than limit my vision of myself as an artist to ‘watercolourist,’ I will grab whatever medium feels able to express these movements inside me. First, the brush must be lifted again, no matter how heavy.
by Gaye Adams, Sorrento, BC, Canada
In an effort to make some changes in my productivity, I’ve been reading Tony Robbins. I have a whole shelf of self-help books, and I don’t know what that says about me. Perhaps that I need a lot of help, or that I’m worried I can’t figure it out on my own, or just that I acknowledge that I am a work in progress, and that I’m not going to settle for being less than I am capable of being. All of the above is true, but I prefer to focus on the latter. I want to share a few thoughts of Tony’s that have been meaningful to me:
“Success is the result of good judgment.
Good judgment is the result of experience.
Experience is often the result of bad judgment.”
“When you make a real decision, you draw a line, and it’s not in the sand, but in cement.”
The idea is that most of our “decisions” are actually a wish list instead of an actual decision. We must keep the promises we make to ourselves.
by Kate Austin, Vancouver, BC, Canada
I’m not a painter (though I dabble a bit in watercolours), but I am an artist — a writer. Of all the newsletters I receive, yours is the most helpful, most inspirational, most entertaining. It’s confirmed for me that art is universal — painting and writing and music have much in common — and your letter often speaks directly to something I’m contemplating (or fretting about). I like the idea that my resolutions will be out there in the ether, looking over my shoulder when I get discouraged or begin to procrastinate. My resolutions are to write every day and not worry about the amount; to send my work out into the world (kind of like entering shows, I guess); to practice my cello; to take the time to enjoy the world and the people around me; to appreciate the life I live without reservation. Get organized. Sometimes I think that’s what resolutions are all about, a way of ordering our priorities.
Different way to grow
by Patricia Neil Lawton
I’m used to painting anything from boats, people, totem poles to livestock, etc. and I always feel ‘torn’ in many directions. Now I have a good feeling about not drifting about so much, but experimenting in a narrower field. To stay interested in one subject I think will take a big stretch of my imagination. Maybe it’s a different way to grow.
A full life
by J. Bruce Wilcox, Denver, CO, USA
I resolve to continue to do exactly what I’m doing. Working my ass off creating the god-thing flowing through and out of me. Maintaining (as much as possible) a state of harmony, but moving my anger if it is present. Looking within more often that without. Listening to and working with as much new/old music as is humanly possible. Throwing incredible parties. Having as much sex as I can.
by Margaret Bonneau
I will let the answering machine take calls in my ‘studio time.’ Explore new materials and trust my instincts. Say “yes” to opportunities that feel right and “no” to the time wasters. Commit to completing one painting per week and keep the ‘flow’ going. Incidentally, I found I was able to meet my 2003 halfway in some areas and surpass them in others. It was helpful to make the commitments knowing I would have them sent back to me and at that time I would review my achievements and weaknesses as well.
What am I up to?
by Jerry Waese
Every morning I begin to resolve — it just never makes it to words — at least nothing worth writing. As if I know that I mean something, that this day means something, that this year means something, I can feel it. It is full of portent, just no idea what — in words. My new year’s resolution is to find out what I am up to, even if it takes all year to resolve.
Make twenty things alike
by Theresa Bayer, Austin, Texas, USA
I will follow the flow of my heart and soul. As for showing the work, yes, show a selection of things that look alike. Even though I know that’s what sells, I have a hard time with that one, especially with my clay, which paradoxically is my strongest medium in terms of having an individual style. In fact that might make an interesting New Year’s resolution for some of us: Make twenty things alike. In a row. I honestly don’t know if I can do that — it would be an interesting experiment. I’ll report my progress.
On a roll
by Faith Puelston, Wetter, Germany
I resolve herewith to buy (today) a roll of sturdy paper (wallpaper or any other long roll) and start filling it with whatever motivates me. I’m going to use dry media of all kinds (pencil, ink, pastels, crayons) and maybe water media if the paper will take them. When I finish the roll, I plan to start another one.
After son moves out
by Jennifer Hendrickson, Devonport, New Zealand
Here’s my resolution, which you will surely recognize (I’ve rehearsed it often). No need to keep it confidential. After my son moves out of my studio at the end of February, at least 5 days a week I will
1. go to my room,
2. work regular hours,
3. finish lots of stuff,
4. fall in love with process.
To that I’m adding number 5: reduce coffee consumption to 2 cups per week.
by Gail Griffiths
In the past I set unrealistic expectations for myself, such as straight A’s in History. I was quickly reminded I had failed to uphold my New Year pledge. Later on I set more achievable goals like let my hair grow, not challenging but to get a thumbs up at the end of the year by the “Resolution Police.” This year I am making a New Year Resolution for the year 2004 and putting it in writing for all to see. My promise to myself is: Listen to myself. Believe myself. Trust myself and have the strength to be in my art world not feeling I have to leave it to serve others. Happy New Year to you all, I have enjoyed all your letters and Robert Genn thank you from the heart for the insight, fun, sharing, and donuts.
A gift to the world
by Susan Correia, Castro Valley, CA, USA
I love what you do… Your simple idea has turned into quite an undertaking on your part, as well as the enlistment of others. The simple idea is quite a gift to the world, too, at least to those of us in the art world. Your musings have been thought provoking. Your travels and friends along the way have been stimulating and inspiring. You are an interesting person, a marvelous writer and someone who constantly questions and prods. You have given your thoughts, shared your ideas and received thoughts, opinions and ideas from others. Their feedback in turn has stimulated you. Thank-you for 2003 and all the letters… Best wishes to you and Saraphina in 2004. May your year be as outrageous and foolish and inspirational as your dreams. May your internal river take you where you need to go. May you be a better nudist. May your barns not be red and may you make love to every canvas.
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2003.
That includes Bev Sobkowich who wrote, “I resolve to think outside the box.” And Catherine F Meeks who has decided to “make enough of a splash that I don’t have to look for another corporate job.”
And Kathi Rippe who promised to “Follow the flow of my heart and soul.” And Susan Burns, Douglasville, Georgia who said, “I will meditate 3 days a week this year. I will find peace.”
And Judith D’Agostino, of Tuscon, Arizona who resolved to “Do more mailings to clients and prospective clients with images of my newest work.”
And Tonda Tavernier who resolved “to improve my technique so my ancestors may look my way with a smile.” And Gertjhan Zwiggelaar who warned, “My advice is to be careful with resolutions.”