Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Making A Mark in 2008 - The Plan

Grainstack (sunset) by Claude Monet
Museum of Fine Art, Boston

This is my plan for artistic related endeavours in 2008. It’s based around a set of broad goals that I found useful in 2007 as a framework for thinking about and organising different activities.

First a preamble which explains a bit more about where I’m coming from on all in planning this.

As I've got older, I find that I increasingly enjoy being more spontaneous, like having the opportunity to try new things, like taking advantage of the unexpected - if it takes my fancy as well - and generally not having everything planned with every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed. Maybe it’s the latent teenager coming out at long last?

Having a broad framework for my activities, means that I can see whether and how a possibility either fits into (or doesn’t) my overall direction. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn't necessarily mean I don’t do it – it might mean I need to review my framework and priorities for my activities!

My one overall rule now is that more or less everything should fit with just one maxim – “Life is too short”. What follows from this is that I try always to do what I enjoy doing and avoid or forget about the rest. This gives me licence to explore and try out new avenues of activities that I might enjoy and also to walk away from sources of aggravation, irritations and so-called obligations - including avoiding the housework for as long as possible! I just don’t need things in my life that don’t make me happy or content and I don’t allocate time to them. Obligations are cut down to the strictly essential (eg I trade reading art books in bed for ironing the sheets on the bed!). Having made this decision, decision-making about everything else instantly becomes so much easier. Try it - you might like it! ;)

My overall goals for 2008, in order of priority, are:
  • Learning – continuing my own personal development as an artist AND as a person who appreciates art. I enjoy learning period. This means, for example, I can enjoy learning about a certain type of art because I enjoy looking at it – not because I want to do it. I will be continuing to learn more about the history of art and specific artists and will continue to go to as many exhibitions as possible because I find these activities to be extremely helpful to developing my own perspective and ideas about my own art. I look so I can see.
  • Doing – in 2008, ‘doing’ is going to be partially linked to projects which are about learning. I’ll aim to produce art using what I’ve learned and the material I’ve accumulated to date. ‘Doing’ might well be focused around specific themes to create bodies of work. 'Doing' will also involve producing work for exhibitions.
  • Sharing – this a major theme of my life, who I am and what I like to do. There will be a continuing focus on developing how I can share what I learn and learning from others who share what they do. I'm happy to contemplate some major projects in this field but am not about to rush into anything.
  • Showing – besides showing work on this blog and my website, I will participate in a limited number of exhibitions. I may try and develop local gallery representation but this is not a priority.
  • Selling – This has had a very low priority for some time and is unlikely to rise much up the pecking order. I will continue to try and find ways of selling work that do not distract too much from learning, doing and sharing. Efficiency is the major priority.
  • Travelling – Travel undoubtedly broadens the mind and my travels support both ‘learning’ and ‘doing’. This is probably the vaguest area as yet with no firm plans but a number of ideas.

Projects: During 2007, I came to the conclusion that a month is simply too short to do a project on one artist. It's simply too daunting to start a new project each month. "Life happens" as they say - and only having a month means either the project or other things going on in my life can get a bit compressed at times. Some of the projects were also a lot bigger than I realised and at times created a bit too much stress in terms of trying to finish 'properly' rather than in a half-hearted way. One of the things I very much enjoy about the projects is the research - and that's when I probably do most of my learning and reflecting - in ways which might not always be apparent in the posts - but I still need time for that.

In 2008 I am going to have a number of major and minor projects. My priority is to have time to do a project properly but to not feel rushed to complete either the project or any artwork inspired by the project - which is a bit what it felt like at times.

A major project should last at least 2 months and will be about something which may take a while to do properly. I'm not particularly bothered about having official starts and finishes to projects so much as recognising a group of themes and their inter-relationships.

My major projects will cover:
Le Tub, Edgar Degas
pastel sur carton, 1886, Musee D'Orsay
  • Design and Composition - I'm revisiting this topic to try and understand more about what different people have had to say about composition, what are the 'rules' and why breaking the rules also works. I intend to relate design and composition to specific subject matter (eg landscapes and flowers) and artists that I like and/or will feature this year - such as Degas. I'm starting the year with this topic as it underpins so much of what comes next. It will continue to run as theme throughout the year and I'll be referencing it in other areas of work during the rest of the year. It'll certainly cross over into.........
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa
From "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" 1823-29
Color woodcut, 10 x 15 in.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Japanese Art - ukiyo-e woodblock prints and the artists who produced them influenced virtually all the nineteenth century artists I studied in 2007. I've been intrigued by them ever since I saw all the Japanese prints - like this one - on the walls of Monet's dining room at Giverny and I want to know more about them. I'll also focus on those artists who drew landscapes such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. I also want to look at methods used for composition and how they used colour.
  • Colour - a huge subject! I want to get to grips with different theories about colour, look a little bit at some of the different schools and artists renowned for their use of colour eg Fauvism, Scottish Colourists, Monet, (any other suggestions?) and to try some more in-depth colour exercises than ones I've done so far. In particular I want to develop work around 'flat' colour which vibrates. I started a squidoo lens for this topic a while back - see Colour - Resources for Artists
  • Working in a series - looking at the benefits of repetition and developing a series around one motif; picking up on Monet's series paintings and other artists who've developed major themes and painted the same motif several times. I'll be looking to feature artist bloggers during this project and hope to do some interviews.
  • Turner - I love his work and am interested in his approach to drawing, sketchbooks, technique, design and painting (everything really!) and how his work progressed over time. In a way I'm hoping what I learn during the course of the year will help me to understand better what I learn about Turner.
A minor project will be more akin to an exercise or a small challenge - less about research and more about practice. They will also provide a counterpoint or complement to the major projects. This means I'll avoid a mindset bogged down on one topic - plus I like and need variety!

My minor projects will focus on specific aspects of art. For example:
  • mark-making - exploring my signature (this is the way I make marks not how I sign my work!). This might well be a pick-up and put-down project through-out the year and will probably have strong links with the colour project in relation to flat colour and colour vibrations.
  • developing drawings which address weaknesses or push boundaries or a very precise area of art. Examples might include:
    • drawing hands
    • drawing feet
    • drawing with tone and values and no line (a real challenge for somebody who cross hatches all the time!)
    • exercises from the Experimental Drawing book
  • Feline art: exploring different examples in art history and developing more of a presence on the Internet
  • book reviews around a theme - probably involving books about colour, pastels and coloured pencils.
Timescale: It occurs to me that August and December are good months to avoid, however I don't yet know when I'll be away on trips as yet. Timings are therefore very provisional at this stage. These are my initial thoughts
  • January/February: DESIGN AND COMPOSITION
    • development of major project on design and composition;
    • reviews of books about design and composition;
    • further development of squidoo lens: Design and Composition - Resources for Artists
    • drawing class - focus on drawing exercises from experimental drawing.
    • Degas - and composition (and development of a squidoo lens: Degas - Resources for Art Lovers)
    • relationship between composition and colour eg aerial perspective in landscapes
    • relationship between composition and working in series
    • Japanese Art and composition
    • Japanese Art/ukiyo-e prints
    • which artists were affected by Japanese art - and how can this be seen in their work
    • complete feline art for SOFA
    • complete projects to date
    • complete work for exhibitions
    • experimental drawing
  • June/July: COLOUR
    • colour project - colour theories; ways of describing colour
    • lightfastness and colour - know your pigments!
    • colourist schools of painting and painters
    • Monet and colour
    • Degas and colour
    • Hokusai / Hiroshige and colour
    • Turner and colour
  • August: Research and REFLECTION
    • maybe a trip to Paris
  • September/October: WORKING IN A SERIES
    • working in a series project
    • Monet - relationship between series and time of day/lighting and colour; series paintings;
    • Degas series: ballet dancers / women washing / horses (and links back to Japanese motifs)
    • Turner series: atmospheric paintings
    • Venice and series paintings
    • interviews with artist bloggers working in series
    • drawing a head - my class - plan for series in Year 3
  • November/December: JMW TURNER
    • continued development of a squidoo lens JMW Turner - Resources for Art Lovers
    • book reviews - Turner
    • Turner sketchbooks
    • complete Turner and composition
    • complete Turner and colour
    • complete Turner and series
    • experiments in mixed media

The Book

A book has been hovering on the sidelines of my activities for some time. I'm pretty clear what the main topic will be. In 2008, I think the time might be right to put a bit more effort into it. Notwithstanding the very many comments I've heard over the years from various artist/authors about there being "no money in publishing"! :)

I'll start by developing an outline and thinking more about publishing and marketing options. Plus it how it might integrate into future activities. Not being in a rush, I want to see where this takes me as opposed to being very definite at this stage. I might consider self-publishing and will probably talk to a few people who have taken that route.


I did start to develop plans for workshops this year - and then had to 'down tools' while addressing a health problem which will hopefully be sufficiently sorted sooner rather than later and will mean I can start addressing this again. I'm thinking around options for 1 day, two days in London or the UK and longer periods abroad. These may require field trips! ;)

Squidoo Lens

I'll continue to develop squidoo lens for topics from this year and artists from last year - plus anything else which catches my eye!

Website and Blogging

I'll continue to try and do a post on a daily basis - mainly because I'm a bit concerned that letting the routine slip might mean that I start to let it slip a lot - and I get too much out of blogging to want to do that. However I will take short breaks from time to time to avoid blogger fatigue. I'm probably also going to get round to developing a 'hub' website for all my activities.

Showing and Selling

Showing and selling my art is nice but is not my major priority right now. The overriding priority is not too much hassle so that they fit easily with other activities.

Art Societies and competitions: I need to decide which juried exhibitions I will enter work for, deal with other matters relating to galleries and exhibitions and work out how all that fits in with the work I want to do around developing my art. The important thing is to not let exhibitions derail other endeavours. I'm minded to think about submitting works for some different shows this year and I'm also going to allow some time in my plan for getting work done.

Bricks and mortar Galleries: I may start to review galleries this year with a view to making an approach. This has not been a priority because of the need to avoid producing large numbers of work for specific exhibitions. However group shows with other artists feels like a reasonable proposition.

Online galleries: Current website galleries are due for a prune plus I need to get more images up on the Imagekind site. Gayle Mason and I are also aiming to develop a joint website for our feline art - which will be sales oriented.

This is the vaguest area of all. I've got some standing invitations which are very tempting and there are some places I'd definitely like to go back to and some exhibitions which I'd like to see which are not in London. Developing workshops will definitely involve field trips! One thing I would like to do is to start doing more work along the banks of the Thames - and this may involve short trips away from home.

I'm just hoping we have a better summer this year!


So what do you think? Any comments or suggestions?


Papierflieger said...

Very good planning as always and probably you will stick to it as usual. I have to sort myself out still.
I wish everything works out fine for you.
Suggestions : Pol Skardenni a painter under a northern sky..

Jeanette Jobson said...

Your plans make sense and will keep you very busy during 2008. I similarities in many artists' lists for the new year. Perhaps well all have similar thoughts in some areas.

A book? About time I say. Sign me up for a copy now please. :)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds great! The areas of focus you've outlined are very appealing: composition, color, sketching, book reviews. It's an inspiring plan but seems like a daunting quantity of non-art making work. When do you make art -- is it a specific time of day or week? I look forward to learning along with you.

Making A Mark said...

Thanks Martin, Jeanette and Laraine

Martin - thanks for the link - he's good. Nice to see somebody painting in a different country as well.

Jeanette - you'll be top of my list! ;)

Laraine - I forgot to count how many pieces I produced last year! (Which has made me think of a blog post for tomorrow!) I think I need a new label for the posts which have my artwork in!

When do I work? I very often work in the evening (with a daylight bulb) plus sketch during the day - my sketches are all on my other blog.

Miki Willa said...

Once again, you have inspired me to new directions. I am going to spend some time this week focusing on where I want to go this year with my art and my blog. I am looking forward to learning with you. The first two projects are wonderful. Happy New Year.

Laurel Neustadter said...

Sounds like a great plan, Katherine. I will be very interested to see what you find on Design and Composition. I have looked, and resources seem limited. I didn't realize you have a sketching blog also ... I will be sure to start visting it.

Adam Cope said...

wishing you a very happy & healthy & creative 2008.

the idea of a 'hub' site sounds good.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Great plans, Katherine! I suggest the self-pub route for the book, so long as you have a marketing plan behind it. (Been there, done that.)

Making A Mark said...

Miki, Laurel, Adam, Michael - Thanks for all the comments.

Miki - it's wonderful to know I'm inspiring you too. You've accomplished a lot in 2007

Laurel - my posting to my Travels with a Sketchbook blog can be a bit 'hit and miss' at times (particularly at busy times of the year) - but I've got a whole load of sketches to post which have been sitting waiting so they should be appearing soon.

Adam - where to put the hub is the big question. I've got the domain name. Well actually I've got two. OK so that's the second big question - which domain name?!

Michael - thanks for the advice - always welcome.

Robyn Sinclair said...

Sponge-like I'm waiting to absorb all the stimulation your plan promises, Katherine.
Brava to the book idea too! May I order the second copy? ;)
Now I must make some sort of personal plan before this year slips away as quickly as the last.

Making A Mark said...

Robyn - You are now second on the list! I know I'm going to enjoy this year (off to a good start - reading about Hokusai in bed last night!) and hope you will too.

Anonymous said...

I'm home sick with a stuffy nose today, and really enjoyed reading your 2007 Progress and 2008 Goals. I will follow your work with interest and continue to read your in-depth artist research. Sign me up for the third copy of your book.

We had the large poster of The Wave (from the Met)framed and hung in our dressing room for many years. And now I just walk over to the Met to see it. I was there Wed. to enjoy the newly reopened 19th C. Painting galleries. There is a large room devoted to many Degas sculptures (dancers, horses, and other pieces)and at least 1 small gallery of his pastels. So you see you do need to come to NYC for a visit!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Katherine, you make my goals look quite pitiful in comparison!

I know you're not doing Japanese art until later in the month, but I'm doing John Bauer and Kay Nielsen, who were influenced by Japanese art (especially Kay) for January and February if you want to do your maven thing and see what you can find out!

Making A Mark said...

Shirley - it's certainly an ambition of mine to get to the Met sometime soon.........

Maggie - I think you certainly need to read up about the woodcut artists. Neilsen in particular reminds me of their work. Although it seems to me that there's also a Scandinavian influence. I'll see what I can find.

Michelle B. Hendry said...

Katherine - your blog has been an exciting discovery!

Your plan for 2008 sounds busy and exciting, not to mention inspiring. I have subscribed and I will be a regular visitor.

I have responded to your question on field colour on my blog and I can't wait to see what you come up with in the summer.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this and was a bit envious of your ability to systematize your learning, despite your desire to be spontaneous. I also found it interesting to hear how much you value both learning and not wasting time with things that don't give you pleasure (two very important things in my life too).

I was reminded of two quotes from Renoir:
His last words (about painting) as as he put down his paintbrush and died: "I think I'm beginning to learn something about it." and earlier: "I make it a rule to never paint except out of pleasure. I never paint anything I don't enjoy."

Anonymous said...

i'm really excited reading about your plans quite selfishly because of all that i'm going to learn from reading your posts! And secure in the knowledge that you'll see it through!! Thank you very much for sharing and Happy New Year!

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