Hey guys! First of all, Happy new Year! 😀 It’s that time of year again when people are setting meaningful goals in hopes of bettering themselves in the coming year. Today I wanted to talk about setting a New Year’s resolution, art-related in particular. I think that setting goals and striving to improve is important all the time, not just at the year’s turnover. This is a great time to start a new goal, though; and I wanted to start off with some tips that will help with any type of resolution.
First off, I think that the whole idea of setting a year-long goal is something that psyches a lot of people out; and I don’t blame them! Committing to do something (or not do something) for an entire year is a big deal! In order to stick with something that long, it’s crucial to pick something that you really can commit to. While you will need some level of resolve (it is a “resolution,” after all), you shouldn’t be killing yourself to get this done. I believe that small changes go a long way, and it’s much better to make one tiny action consistently to be a once-in-a-while Heracles.
Everyone will be at a different level with whatever it is they’re looking to improve, so make sure you set a goal for yourself without concerning yourself with what other people are doing. A frequent marathon runner will have very different goals (and everyday habits) than the occasional park walker, for example. The ideal goal is something that requires you to put in effort into in order to push yourself ever so slightly further than your current place. Keep in mind too that while goals should usually be just a little out of reach, for something like a New Year’s resolution the tricky part isn’t necessarily doing the thing, but doing the thing every single day.
Okay, now to relate this all to art!
I mentioned people getting psyched out by the idea of having to do (or not do) something every day for a whole year. If this is you, fret not. You want to start small with an easily achievable goal, especially if this is your first time starting a year-long goal; or if you’ve set goals for yourself in the past and fallen short (it happens to the best of us, so don’t feel bad!).
My recommendation for a starting art goal is simply to draw every day. There’s no need to create a masterpiece, or even a finished work. All you need to do is find as little as a minute or two each and every day to put pencil to paper. That’s it! The easiest way to accomplish this is to get a small sketchbook (something around 4″ x 6″ or even smaller) that you can keep in your pocket. The most important thing is that you have this sketchbook as close to you as possible at all times, because even if it’s just a room away (or even a few steps, in some cases), you’ll reach for it so much more when it’s within arm’s reach.
As Brandon Dayton said in a Sketchbook Summer video, “Make your phone jealous.” All those little slivers of time when you mindlessly check your phone (just in case a new message came in), grab your little sketchbook instead. This is pretty much whenever you’re waiting for something -a bus, an elevator, or maybe while your food is cooking (just pay attention not to burn anything!). All these little moments add up.
Alternatively, you may keep a sketchbook of any size either by your bedside, or perhaps in the kitchen -somewhere you can establish a routine. Maybe you sketch a few thoughts from the day before going to sleep, or perhaps you crack open the sketchbook in the morning and make some doodles while eating breakfast. Whatever the case, you need to be consistent. Bad habits are hard to break; good habits are just as strong. So make drawing a habit and you’ll have 365 days in drawings before you know it!
A Little Trickier
If you already draw every day (good for you!), you might need to think a bit bigger to challenge yourself. Maybe fill a whole page each day, or resolve to make a complete drawing. If you’re already in the habit of drawing consistently, you can put a bit more thought into what you draw. You might also consider studying a bit every day; identify a skill you need to work on and then make a point of practicing that.
This is more or less where I’m at, so in 2019 I’ll be making reading every day a resolution (along with drawing every day, which I’ve been doing for the most part but haven’t really been keeping record of). I have dozens of art books that I flip through now and then for inspiration or specific information, but this will be the year I buckle down (and stretch my attention span!) and actually read through some of them. (Note to self: post a list at the end of the year of books I actually get through…)
Turn Up the Heat!
If you’re already drawing your little heart out, this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Now and then I like to do a monthly sketchbook challenge (more information here, particularly Challenge #2), where I make it a goal to fill up a sketchbook in a month. So my suggestion here is to fill a sketchbook every month. You can tailor this challenge to fit your personal level and goals, because the scope of this challenge will depend on the sketchbook you choose and the rules you set for yourself. For instance, books with smaller or fewer pages will be easier to fill, while large books with numerous pages will take a lot more work. You can choose a different sketchbook each month, too; so maybe you pick something smaller to go a bit easier on yourself during a busy month, and fill a larger book in a month when you don’t have as much going on.
As far as rules go, you can push yourself to create a complete illustration on every page, or you can simply fill your book with quicker sketches. The beauty is that it is entirely up to you, and you can adjust the difficulty as you go.
Well, I hope this gives you some inspiration for the new year! As I mentioned earlier, I know that many people psyche themselves out or are intimidated by the prospect of setting a year-long goal; some don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions at all. Personally, I feel that goals (at year’s end or otherwise) are critical for our constant improvement and growth. Even if you don’t make it through the year, every day you succeed helps you in a small way. If you miss a day, forgive yourself. Brush it off and get back to it! That’s what tomorrow is for.
Set your goals accordingly and you will get better. And if your resolution is going well, feel free to kick it up a notch!
What are your goals for 2019? Please share in the comments! I hope this post has given you some ideas, and that you do set some kind of goal for yourself in the coming year. Best of luck in your New Year’s pursuits, and have a great day! 🙂