While I've written the past couple newsletters about artists I've been exploring, I wanted to use this to come back to the original reason I started Passion Projects. It's to let my family, friends, and anyone who wants to tune in know what I'm up to. A big part of that is the topics that I'm learning about, but it's also an update what I'm doing and where I'm going. This month, I'm posting an update.
I recently heard a quote from Naval Ravikant to the effect of "Define your ten-year plan. Now what is stopping you from making that your one-year plan?"
I took that to heart, so I sat down this week in the middle of 2017 to think about where I want to end up, and how the next six months would get me there.
To turn my Passion Projects into long-term realities, I'm chasing 4 goals for the rest of the year:
- Painting: measurable increases in skill from hobby to mastery
- Music: begin creating and publishing content
- Side hustle: sell paintings for regular monthly income
- Writing: begin writing drafts of children's books
The rest of this post will describe what the actionable steps I'll take to get there.
1. Painting - measurable increases in skill from hobby to mastery
To put it visually, I want to move from this (first painting in September 2016) to this (painting from July 2017). So what has changed? The lines are more careful. There is a greater attention to value (meaning how dark or thick the paint is). I'm also starting to learn where to leave empty space.
These are all things I can continue to improve, especially in landscape and cityscape painting where I still have a lot to learn. What this means is a greater attention to my own paintings (example of one with messier lines), but also paying attention to when really good artists get it right (Old building Semenyih, by Azman Nor).
I'm teaching a volunteer DC art class on August 5 because there is no better way to solidify your own understanding of a topic than to teach it. In October I'll have a skills check-in to compare photos of my work from then and now.
2. Music - begin creating and publishing content
The header tab next to watercolors above is Music, which was intentional despite the fact there there isn't yet much content there. I am going to begin recording more original music, editing video, and posting it here. The jumping off point is connecting with friends who own recording equipment and are already create their own content. While I have over 100 songs playable at any time as well as past experience mixing and producing music, the difficulty so far with this project has been simply the act of starting.
My goal is to have 1 video uploaded by October and 3 videos total by December.
3. Side Hustle - sell paintings for regular monthly income
This is the category I've given the most attention so far. As of July 2017 I've sold a handful of paintings, mainly to family and friends. I've been taking notes on the selling process with the intention of creating a small business venture that can scale to a modest size. The eventual target would be 2-3 paintings sold per month.
So far I've let people come to me (pull method), so to make this side hustle take flight, it comes down to actively selling (push method). Here are a few actionable steps I'm test-driving for the next six months. First, promote more social media than just Facebook. Second, print business cards for family/friends to pass around. Include them in paintings sold. Third, reach out to warm leads and those who've expressed interest in buying or commissioning work.
4. Writing - begin writing drafts of children's books
I would like to write a successful children's book one day, and today is the day I hold myself accountable to that statement. I'm going to start by reading best-sellers (so many are free online) and looking for commonalities. I'm going to dive into other works of authors that turn me on - expect a Passion Projects episode or two about children's books to come.
I'm also committing to 3 drafts of stories by 2018, the first by September. 15 When I first was scratching this goals audit down in a notebook I wrote that I could keep them to myself and didn't have to do anything else with them. I simply needed to start writing them.
Six months is a long time to get a lot of things done. But it's also a short amount of time, and enough that if one thing isn't working, I can pivot or ditch the idea. New things will pop up, and things that were not as important might suddenly become more important. The point of this exercise is 1) to hold myself accountable to all of you and 2) to be thoughtful about how I'm spending these months and years of this period of my life. There's no reason why my life has wait 10 years to take off, and I don't want to be sitting in a chair years from now thinking "If only I had started this project 10 years ago."
Here's to starting now.