Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011: A Year In Review

   I'm excited about the latest paintings I've completed: several 12"x12" landscapes with different colors and compositions, and a couple large works, one that is very colorful and vibrant. While I enjoy working in series using the same palette of colors and subjects ... I often find the need to branch out into new ideas and the last several paintings have had a very punchy, colorful feel to them, and I'll be sharing them this week. But before I do, I wanted to share a year in review ... a retrospective of the goals I set for myself and how I accomplished them...

   First of all, I've been a full time artist my entire life, working mainly in the graphic design and commercial art side of the business. But I've always created art for my career and also for fun outside of work, often experimenting with a wide range of styles and subject matters. The commercial art side of my career influenced this, and I enjoyed the range of creative expression, often incorporating my art into commercial projects.

   But I also felt like something was missing. I found myself drawn to creating fine art and establishing myself in the art field as a professional painter. Having gone to art school, I was well versed in artistic styles and the business of fine art, but I also did not have a distinctive direction to pursue, kind of like standing at one of those signs that shows distant cities with an arrow and a mileage. I didn't know who I really was as a fine artist, only who I was as a commercial artist. I was so used to creating art for customers and businesses that I struggled to find clear direction with my art. I worked hard, though, finding the need to set for myself clear boundaries and objectives ... deadlines and goals. The goals are what spurred me on, even when I was unable to meet the deadlines.

   The first goal I established was painting on a regular, even daily basis. I accomplished this by painting small works on 8x10 canvases, keeping things simple, exploring landscape compositions.

   The second goal was selling a painting . The first serious painting I created sold, and I knew I must be onto something. It wasn't about the sale of the painting, more it was about the style ... I found something clicking on the canvas ... something was working.

   The third goal was having an art show at The Vanilla Bean featuring my paintings in the style and subject matter I was focusing on. I felt that the show would give me feedback on my work, helping me find more direction for my work .. and the show was a huge success for me. I sold several paintings and received a lot of helpful feedback. During a slow tourist season, the works sold to people who had never seen or heard of me before confirmed to me again that the direction for my work was sound, that I was identifying with people. Viewing my work all together in one place was so meaningful to me, I can't wait to have another show .. and I have several shows scheduled this year already.

   The fourth goal was finding local gallery representation. That was accomplished right after my show at The Vanilla Bean was complete, and my work now hangs in Lizzard's Gallery in downtown Duluth, and I'm exploring more gallery options ... excited for what the future holds.

   The fifth goal was selling a painting in an art gallery, and my large 60"w x 36"h work titled 'Autumn Equinox' found itself a home. That painting is a nice summary of my recent work with it's familiar brushstrokes on black canvas and twilight shadows stretching across the canvas.

   Another goal I had for myself was starting a blog, which you're now reading, and a website. I accomplished these goals early on, and I'm glad I did, as I can now look back at my work over 2011 and remember all the moments, all the art, the successes, the struggles, the story of finding my creative voice and how it intertwines with my life.

   I've found myself branching out into new websites, like MNArtists, and new opportunities, like exhibitions at Jitter's, Beaner's and the Duluth Art Institute ... and on-demand printing of my paintings.

   So that brings me to 2012. What are my goals for 2012? They are thankfully simple: to create art on a regular basis, keep my galleries stocked with paintings and focus on my upcoming shows.

   The five year plan I've set for myself is to paint full time, moving away from graphic design and commercial art and enjoying creating art full time, doing what I love and loving what I do. May you have a blessed and prosperous 2012!  -A

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