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10 New Year's Resolutions To Ponder For Artists

The words "We can do it!" with a picture of Doug Swinton's face pasted on top of a womans.

Well, it’s that time of year when gyms get a pail of newly minted workout buffs, and your weight scale will get a daily workout. Resolution time. Though I’m not big on the resolution thing I do believe in having a bit of a game plan to keep me in the studio and sloshing some paint around. So here are some of what I would call more practical Ideas to kick-start your new year and keep you merrily on the easel.

#1 Clean your studio.

Whether you have a full studio or are a seasoned kitchen table painter you need a clean workspace to inspire some creativity. As Steven Pressfield said in his most excellent book “The war on art.” One needs a clean studio as the muse will not enter if there is a chance she will soil her dress on the way in. A clean studio is a happy studio. From the actual studio to just organizing your supplies, frames or equipment you will feel like painting when your studio is clean.

#2 Make a new music playlist.

I listen to a lot of music while I paint. Music always inspires me to create. Set aside some time in the first few days of the new year to put a new playlist together. If you’re not playing music I strongly suggest you get a sound system in your studio and crank the tunes. You will thank me later…

#3 Plan out your year.

Maybe for an afternoon rather than painting, you set aside some time to plan out your next week, month, and year. Deciding what you want out this year will make you feel like painting as you have a goal to achieve. Maybe it’s just setting a goal of how many paintings you would like to get done. Maybe it’s what growth you would like to achieve this year. Perhaps it's as simple as setting aside a dedicated day just to paint. Like going to the gym it's not the workout that is the hard part it's the actually getting to the gym. Once you're done you feel good not only from the workout but from the fact you went and got it done. Painting is the same. It’s not the painting that’s hard it’s getting into the studio. Once you’re in there you will want to paint. If you’re a kitchen painter, one who needs to set up and take down each time you paint I would highly suggest you find tour self a dedicated space to paint. Dining room table (who uses that nowadays anyway…) or a bedroom. The idea is if you have things ready to go you will have a better feeling about painting. If you need to always be setting everything up each time you want to paint chances are you will find an excuse not to do it.

#4 Get on social media

If you’re not on social media I would suggest you find a way to get on. Like it or not, it’s the way the world works these days. I can find it hard to stay on top of all that. One way to keep current is to pre-plan and pre-load posts. You can schedule posts and plan months in advance they automatically get sent out. both Facebook and Instagram have that feature (with the Business Suit app). This way you can add the odd new posts in between to help keep you current. This applies to those of you the do newsletters and or blogs. You can take a couple of days and get some of these to a state that it’s not too much work to finish them off and get them out.

#5 Revamp or build your own website.

Yet more planning. It's the new year so why not revamp your website? You do have a website right? If you don’t I would recommend trying “FASO” it is super easy to make a website from their templates. If you’re not a ”techie” at all…(shambles plug) I would suggest you see my son Rion, he is running a six-day workshop that will walk you through everything you need to know about building and running your own website (click here to view the workshop). It's a good time to swap out some of your older paintings and put up a fresh new batch. If you do have a new batch of paintings to put up see above… perhaps this is your goal.. to get 5 new paintings to put on your website. At least get a new front-page painting.

#6 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.

If you are really goal oriented… Try the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Take the month of January and do one painting a day for 30 days. Nothing big or long but do a 30-minute painting for 30 days. I can tell you I have done this more than once and it is so the fast track to getting good at painting. It may seem daunting at first but before you know it you will be done. The amount of growth you will get in 30 days is astronomical.

#7 Read a good art book.

Keep the motivation alive. Get a new art book to read. Nothing inspires me more than reading a good art book. Either a "get more knowledge book" or a "famous painting coffee table book"... Looking at good art stirs up the old creative juices.

#8 Watch a good art movie.

Not so highly goal oriented. Watch a good art movie. A movie about the life of an artist will also swirl up the old creative juices. Netflix has tons of free movies about artists. From Jackson Pollick to Maude lewis. You will want to get painting after, I promise.

#9 Try a new medium.

Perhaps you need some more inspiration. Try a new medium. Sometimes you just get a bit stagnant with what you're painting. Maybe you need to try a new medium. Something as easy as switching from oil to gouache will give you the stimulation to keep painting. There is a bit of a learning curve but that in itself will inspire you to want to try more.

#10 Try a new style of painting.

Perhaps you need even more inspiration! Try a new style. The same medium but if you're a relatively tight painter maybe you want to try painting abstractly. Even if it's not something you want to be your "forever" style it's just something to add to what you're doing and expand on the way you paint. I took Susan Wollgars “painting the abstract landscape workshop and though I don't really paint abstractly this class loosened me up and it added some new dimensions to how I paint now.

#11 Take a workshop. (Bonus Step)

All that being said… Maybe you need to take a workshop. A workshop can add new ideas to your repertoire. Sign up for a workshop and kick-start your new year of painting.

#12 New art supplies. (Bonus Step 2)

If all else fails go buy some new art supplies. Nothing like a few new crisp brushes, clean surfaces to work on or squeezing out a thick viscous mound of paint from a fresh new tube to get you all quivery and excited to get to mark making.

It’s all designed to get you, and keep you in the studio painting’

Merry Christmas to all.

Your friend in art,


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