New Year, New Art, New Start

New Year’s Resolutions for Artists 2020!

new years resolutions for artists, art tips, practical advice for artists,
New Year, New Art, New Start...

Every week I write a brand new article to support members of our four wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artist Hangout, The Artists Directory, and The Artists Lounge. This week, we look forward to a brand new year and work out which New Year's resolutions we should really be sticking to in our quest to become better artists.

Hello, 2020!


It only seems five minutes since the last time we had to think about starting a brand new year, but in about a couple of minutes time, it will almost be 2020. I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, partly because I never want to fail at doing something during week one of the year with another fifty-one weeks to go because that’s a really long time to be disappointed and I never want to spend it all procrastinating over what could have been.

Last year, I gave up smoking but I didn’t want to do it along with everyone else on the 1st January because I knew people who would use that date as their cut off day, try for a day or two and then go back to it and I would feel compelled to do the same. So, on December 4th 2018, I didn’t tell anyone that I was going to give up and it has now been over a year since I last smoked a cigarette. I hadn’t put myself under any pressure to give up, I wasn’t competing with anyone, and suddenly here we are a year later and I’m smoke-free and super-proud of myself. I feel better for it, and no, I didn’t save all that money because it just seemed to flow towards buying more art supplies!

I did a few other things too, I promised to set myself some time aside each week to learn new things and every week I have managed to carve out at least fifteen minutes a day to learn something that I didn’t know the day before. Yesterday I learned that make-up brush manufacturers make beautiful brushes that are perfect for delicate watercolour paintings and then I spent three hours walking around the house stroking one of my daughter's expensive blush brushes. Why can't paintbrush manufacturers produce something quite as soft?!

The point is that I no longer believe that there has to be a definitive date to do something positive. Right now is as good a time as any to pick up a book, go for a walk, get some exercise, and remember to move around. That latter point was actually a thing for me because, at one time, I would spend hours working on a piece of artwork and forget to stand up and move around. Now, I set my smartwatch to buzz if I haven’t completed at least 250 steps in the past hour, something that takes a couple of minutes to do and I have to say, I feel so much better for doing that too. Notice a trend? I am becoming like some health nut. But these are all small things that can be celebrated too and added to your win pile, everyone needs a winning pile.

Last week, I stumbled across a website and there was an article on the top things that people would put on their New Year’s resolution list. Smoking was in there, as was getting fitter and healthier, done and done aside from a kidney stone, and spending less money and saving more were too, not done. As artists, that last one is a near impossibility, art supplies just never get any cheaper do they!

But it got me thinking about the things I really wanted to do as an artist and whether there were more small things I could do that would give me smaller wins to add to my small win pile. I think there are and I have already started doing some of these.

As usual, throughout the article, you will catch glimpses of my own latest creations and if you would like to see them up close, you can visit my Pixels store right here!

Finding Human - by Mark Taylor

Learn a new skill…

Think about what art you really want to create and have a go at making it. No one moved forward by standing in the same spot, so tackle something that forces you to step outside of your artful comfort zone. You will broaden your knowledge base and your skills and you will always be able to apply those new skills to your existing artistic practice to create a whole new series of masterpieces.

Add electronics components to an acrylic, paint on rocks or some other surface you have never tried before. Just try something completely new, it will give you a new perspective on your current work. Just don’t try to use your daughters expensive make-up brushes for watercolours.

Learning a new skill is something that appears on every resolution list, but what you are doing is broadening your skillset and developing as an artist whenever you learn something new.

Be good at being bored…

I quite like being bored, in fact, I have come to rely on being bored to come up with my best ideas. If your brain is always occupied there is no capacity to switch your brain out of its default mode and think about other things. We live in an age where everything consumes us. Last week I had a coffee with a friend and we realised that even on weekends, life was becoming more and more about doing things like filling in forms. I had to apply for a new passport and didn’t have time during the week to fill out the form, I had to fill in another form to change my electricity supplier, and before I knew it, I had spent most of a perfectly good Saturday filling in nothing but forms. I felt like I had become a slave to the tick box.

But being bored lets you look back and forward and side to side. We rarely have any time for something they call Autobiographical planning. That is something that involves us identifying and organising the steps we need to take to arrive at a specific autobiographical future event or outcome. I had no idea what that really meant either, so I looked it up. 

Apparently, it is the time when we look back at our lives and take notice of the big moments to create a personal narrative that we can use to set some goals and work out what steps we need to take to reach them.

Robin on a dry stone wall by Mark Taylor, Seasonal art, Christmas art, lake district art,
Robin on a Dry Stone Wall by Mark Taylor


Be better at failing!

Failure is something that has scared me since forever but I really don’t think that failing is the fear. No one likes to fail but failure is how we build experience and resilience. It is essential if we want to move forward if we want to learn new things, and if we want to improve our art, no one just gets good without fist learning what doesn’t work. We see success all around us and we want to be successful too, but to be successful you have to have a benchmark to measure that success against.

We don’t enter shows and competitions because we are afraid we will fail, we run away from things more often if we know we will be rejected, and there it is. What we might be doing is not running away from the thought of failing but from the fear of rejection. Tackle it head-on instead and embrace it.

Once you overcome that fear you can enter those shows and competitions without this fear getting in the way. You will become more comfortable about doing things that are holding you back from realising your full potential and there’s a better chance of winning a competition when you are actually taking part.

We have all heard the term fail fast, fail often, but that’s a term that doesn’t always work for every situation. It was a term coined by software developers in Silicon Valley and today, it is a term that is frequently misapplied. Instead, fail epically and move forward taking small iterative steps, learn from your mistakes, tweak the approach, and then go in again. As artists we need to think creatively and critically, that’s how we get better, and with art, it takes time and can’t be rushed in the same way that other things can. If you are going to fail, make it a good enough fail so that you can learn from it and remember your past mistakes so you don't make them again.

Be better at 50% of the things you need to do…

Making art is only half of what an artist needs to do, the other half is running a business and meeting the people who can make things happen. An artist needs to find the balance between running a business and creating art but they also need an audience to see that art. Many of the artists I have known who have made successful careers have done so by having their work seen by the right people. They found a way to overcome any fear they had about making a pitch, talking to strangers, or showing their work.

Putting your art on display is the bravest thing an artist can do, it opens up your vulnerable side and exposes what is buried deep within. But you also have to be better at talking to the right people, not just the people who will give you the answers you already know or want to hear, but talking and listening to those who do have the keys to where you really want to go.

No one ever said you only have one chance to get the art thing right, so if you have been rejected in the past by the gatekeepers, pay them another visit because if there are a couple of things that the gatekeepers want to see, they would be persistence and knowing that you are giving it your all. Go out and talk to a stranger, talk to whoever is standing next to you in the line, making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your life and maybe, you will make more connections and it will certainly become easier to talk to those who can make things happen, but also widen your horizons and relationships with those who sit outside of the art and design community too.

Adrift and Finally Free by Mark Taylor, landscape art, seascape art, beechhouse Media, fine art america,
Adrift and Finally Free by Mark Taylor

Rid yourself of the starving artist mindset…

There are times when I really do believe that a lot of artists think that to make their work any good they have to follow the starving artist stereotype. It is a limiting belief that stems from a time when we thought that only starving artists could make it yet not many of them truly did. Artists were rich, poor, starving, charismatic, they were all totally different and unique, and none of them really had a fit with a stereotype. We can still be hungry but it is far better to be hungry for your art than it is to follow some starving artist mindset because you think that will sell more art. In the words of some life-coach guru, just be you and produce your art.

Switch from must do to want to do…

I must go to the gym more often is a mindset that forces you to go to the gym more often, I must try harder to finish that work off feels like you have no choice other than to finish that work off, eventually, must-do turns into resentment but want-to-do is an alternative mindset. Have-to-do and want-to-do motivations are different, the have-to motivation is restrictive, it undermines your self-control, instead, you have to find the want-to-do mindset.

That won’t always be possible and you can’t ignore everything that you absolutely must have-to-do, but if that’s the case and you can’t find a want-to-do mindset to do something, then it might be a sign that something needs to change. Finding that want-to-do mindset isn’t about forcing everything down a particular path, it is about making your choices easier. Life is all about small moments and making the odd tweak to those moments can bring a significant change. I want to go to the gym (no, I still don’t) or I want to finish off that piece of work (yes, I certainly do) doesn’t feel anything like you have to.

bigfoot art, sasquatch art, rockstar art, Mark Taylor, Fine Art America,
Rock Star by Mark Taylor - One of my latest releases!

Journal a day…

A decade or so ago I started carrying around a notebook to jot down the random thoughts I get from time to time or to make notes about the things that inspire me to create my art and for me to remember any ideas I get at the most awkward times. Today I carry around my phone everywhere and have the added advantage that I can record a second or two of video or take a photo of the moment or the thing. When I started doing this all that time ago, I would write down the odd notes or inevitably forget to take the notebook out and about with me, my phone is always with me even when I go to the bathroom which we all know is the epicentre of great ideas.

Now I am in the habit of writing down at least one note of something that I have seen or done or said or heard, every single day. My notes have become a couple of seconds of snippets from every day. Yesterday's notes are different from today's, and to anyone who reads them it would be like reading a random mind dump or a Japanese Haiku poem, but to me they are snatched seconds of my life and the experiences I have had. Collectively they act as prompts to create new work or give me inspiration for whatever I am working on but they also act as extended memory.

There are apps that let you create a one-second video every day which perform in the same way, they’re a great way of remembering what you did and where you were, but a combination of notes, images and really short clips can work just as well, and many of the note apps available on phones now let you insert video or photos too.

For me, one of the things I always found difficult was to come up with a description for my artwork whenever I uploaded it to my print-on-demand website or whenever I have needed to create a description to place next to an artwork hanging on a wall. Despite writing what seems like a bazillion words a week, for some reason I have always struggled with art descriptions. But, being able to explain what is in the scene of each of these snippets has really helped me to observe my own art and explain it better than I ever could before and all it takes is a couple of seconds a day.

Adrift on Still Waters by Mark Taylor, landscape art, seascape art, Fine Art America, tranquil art,
Adrift on Still Waters by Mark Taylor

Buddy Up…

I have written about making yourself more accountable before and when you work from home or as a business that sits within its own silo, often you are only accountable to yourself. The problem here is that your heart and brain often compete with each other with one saying yes and the other one saying no. If we are accountable to ourselves we can make the rules and bend the rules and that’s if we have any rules at all. My rule last year and for much of this year was to say no to more commissions while I worked on some of my own projects, that slipped recently because I got offered one I really did want to do but those rules are back in place now and I really don’t have the capacity to take more work on. You have to learn to say no, and that can be super-hard.

If we are accountable to someone other than ourselves it becomes much easier. Someone to nag you into finishing off that piece of work or to remind you that you promised to make a start on new marketing materials, having someone else that you have to be accountable to really does help.

This is where social media can become really useful. Many Facebook groups have mentorship programs with some fairly strict rules of engagement but they are also perfect for finding an accountability buddy where you can both be accountable to each other. It’s a lot less formal to manage accountability like this but the outcomes that would be offered through a more formal approach can still be achieved. I’m no psychologist, but there does seem to be something that fires up and engages you more when you have made a commitment to do something, to someone other than just you.  You said you were going to frame that/finish that/work on that. work three weeks ago!

Adrift on a Building Sea by Mark Taylor, fine art, ocean art, landscape art, fine art america,
Adrift on a Building Sea by Mark Taylor

My New Year's Resolutions...

Despite not setting dates for doing something positive and new, I still have some things that I want to do that will have a positive impact. For the best part of five or so years, I have been writing weekly updates on this site to share some of the learning I have been through over more than three decades of creating art. My intention has always been simple, to share any insights that I have that might help other independent artists. 

It has never been about creating a website that turns me into some kind of rock star blogger or to get artists to pay out membership fees for e-books and guides. I write this blog because I love the work of independent creatives and because the art world is still the same art world that it always has been, tough, difficult, challenging, and hard to navigate on your own. This site is my way of offering a little support, share a few tips, and hopefully, enough insights into the world of art to help independent artists make the right choices. 

So, I will be changing the format of this site ever so slightly. A lot of artists and art buyers who I regularly speak to have been asking for some insights into my own creative process and because I am about to embark on a new creative venture by offering my work in new spaces, it seems like the perfect opportunity to share some of that insight too.

So with this in mind, I am going to be taking my foot off the gas when it comes to publishing schedules over the coming months while I work on some behind the scenes tutorials and document some of my new experiences and processes. You can still expect to see articles regularly but maybe not absolutely every single week, and you can expect to see some other great stuff too, including my regular independent artist spotlights, and I am still contemplating creating the podcast! I will also be focussing a lot more on the sister site to this one which you can find right here

The new ventures I am about to undertake also come with their own pressures in terms of creative output. More art means that I need to spend some more time on the creative process and I need to trim down on the number of not-so-productive commitments a little. Managing four groups on Facebook is great but what I am seeing lately is a massive change in the way that the groups are being used and in the kind of members asking to join us. 

The Artists Exchange and The Artist Hangout were the two original groups I set up to support artists but recently there has been a surge in the number of members wanting to join the Artists Lounge and The Artist Directory, groups. Sadly not all of those new membership requests have any interest whatsoever in the art within those groups. As a group admin, weedling out the spammers is becoming more and more like a full-time job. When a post is seen by only a handful of people, there is little value in posting and managing a community. In both The Artist Hangout and The Artists Exchange, we are seeing massive increases in engagement so this is a much better way to get the best value out of the groups. 

The Artists Lounge was created with the intention of being a place to ask questions about the art of the art business, and the Artists Directory was always going to be about creating a safe space to promote the portfolios and pages of artists. Both of those are essential in creating a successful art business. Both of those groups are used more and more only to promote single pieces rather than entire bodies of work or the artists business. So, I will be archiving The Artists Lounge and The Artist Directory in the coming weeks and focussing completely on The Artist Hangout and The Artists Exchange, and hopefully bringing those two groups back to the groups we always wanted them to be. 

This should provide me with a little more time to support artists who want the support and should give me enough time to create the work I need to create to fulfil my new commitments. I don't monetise this blog at all so those commitments are vital to the success of the site. As for the two groups being archived, both have seen a decline in engagement recently for every artist who uses them and the amount of work involved doesn't give artists the benefit they get from groups like The Artists Exchange or the Artist Hangout. 

yeti art, Everest art, Himalayan Art, technology art, Mark Taylor, Fine Art America,
Yeti Selfie by Mark Taylor - Released this week!

Coming Up...

Over the coming weeks, I have some brand new articles, how to approach art that turns out not quite how you hoped, and a deep-dive into the art of the movie poster. That one is really interesting because just like books, movie posters are created to capture the viewers' attention. The question is, can the same techniques be applied in creating your own artworks?

Good Luck…

Whatever New Year’s resolutions you set for yourself, you have to give yourself the best possible chances to succeed in what you do. Go slow, set mini-goals rather than leaping in huge steps, and reward yourself. Check the to-do list every week, tackle the hard stuff before the difficult stuff, and get rid of the stuff that you really aren’t ever going to do because those are the kinds of to-do’s that will drag everything else right back down.
If you have any creative New Year’s resolutions for 2020, I would love to hear about them! As always, feel free to leave a comment below and good luck, stay happy, and stay creative!

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com
   
Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes towards the ongoing costs of running and developing this website. You can also view my portfolio website at https://beechhousemedia.com and you probably should do because, frankly, I need the traffic!

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at https://pinterest.com/beechhousemedia

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so right here

Comments

  1. Congrats to you for stopping the smoking and adapting a healthier lifestyle. I'm impressed!
    I have not really thought about New Years resolutions very much yet but one is learning Procreate on my new ipad. That should keep me pretty busy. Excellent post once again Mark!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so very much Colleen and always happy to help with Procreate! Had it on the day it got released which was way before even I can remember! It’s just like a great wine, gets better with age! Xx

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