This is an update to an earlier post, Mid-Year Goals Audit 2017.
At the start of 2018, I took a look at what I said I wanted to accomplish over the last six months. It fell into four categories:
- 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
For the most part, I came close to hitting all the metrics I was looking for. I put up three music videos, drafted some book ideas, and sold plenty of paintings. Now, I’m reflecting on what worked well and what I want to stop doing. Let’s take it line by line.
My goal was to make definitive moves from hobby to mastery, and I feel good about my progress. Landscapes and colorful animals continue to be a strength of mine. I'm getting a better grasp on values and color combinations, and I'm really excited that the depth my art is starting to come through
But when it comes to things like cityscapes, buildings, and especially portraits - namely the kinds of art where the rule of perspective are much less forgiving - I still struggle. So how do you get better at perspective? Paint from real life. Painting outside and painting from photos, that's what I'm focusing on in the next six months.
What's neat about this too is that it improves my eye for composition at the same time. This means my ability to deconstruct a photo into what is essential for the painting. This is one quality I've noticed separates the good from the great artists, people like Azman Nor or Umberto Rossini who I look up to. With time, I hope to get to where they are.
I've begun to paint from photos a bit so far - here’s an example:
So reference photos are a primary focus for the next six months. I'm pairing that with a goal of four paintings a month to make sure that I don't lapse in how often I paint. I'll check back in on this all during the summer.
I wrote more about that learning process in this Passion Projects post. Even though I managed to put out three videos by Dec. 31 like I was aiming for, I don't think I'll continue to produce this kind of content regularly. I'm still so happy I did it, though. I was surprised at how steep the learning curve was on some of these softwares, and I’m grateful that I invested the time to learn to do something that I love. I now know how to create music videos quickly and efficiently if the need ever arises again.
There’s still room to improve of course. I’m not kidding myself that both the audio and video quality are perfect. What’s important to me is that I learned enough of a foundation to decide whether or not to pursue music production further. While I may make some more videos down the road, at this stage I’m happy not spending more time on getting better at it. For now, I'll keep it on the back burner and let it make me happy when I reach for it.
I’m still figuring this one out. I sold a bunch of paintings, especially around the holiday, so in terms of revenue I hit my mid-year goal. But the number of people reaching out to buy art has gone down in the past 6-8 weeks, so as this newness factor wears off I know I still have more work to do.
Another piece I'm trying to figure out is commissions. For whatever reason, the first question from everyone who sees my art is, “Can I commission a piece?” It happens every time without fail, and I'm scratching my head why people don't ask about the originals I've already painted. I even had a conversation with one person asking if they could commission me to re-paint a painting I’d already done. What?? Some commissions are fun, but after doing a few I have to admit painting other people's paintings was a chore at times. So I’m trying to figure out a way to paint what I love, but also position what I’m selling in a way that fits how people want to buy it.
A steady second stream of income is still a priority for me, so as I looked at how to tackle all these issues, I went back to some old journals from when I first made this website. I was writing about how to build my brand, and it all started with trying to get better. My theory was that if I cultivated quality, people would come to it. For 2018, I think that’s a fair place to return to. No worrying about business cards or art shows or anything, just keep getting better at painting and let people know I'm getting better.
Here’s how it's going to play out. First, I'm working on all the tactics of the "Art" section I wrote earlier. Second, I need to regularly post to and maintain my social media. This has been an area of weakness for me in the past, but it is to-date my most effective way of promoting and selling art. This leads to my third activity. To maintain a steady stream of posting, that means painting at a steady clip as well. One post a week has to come from one painting a week. Last, I need to get my art into more people’s hands. I need to look for more opportunities to give paintings away, making an evangelist out of anyone who has one.
To sum up, get better at painting and show more people that I'm getting better.
This will be quick. I hated writing children’s books.
I told myself three drafts of children’s books before 2018. I did just one, and it was like pulling teeth out of my own mouth, or force feeding myself medicine. Sometimes we love the idea of something better than the reality of it, and as it turns out, writing a children’s book is that for me.
Here are my takeaways. The last six months were a structured, goal-oriented way to do a lot of things. I threw a lot at the wall, and now I'm looking at what stuck. I’m no longer investing the time and energy into certain practices, and I’m putting that energy into my art. I’ve got some new ways to get better at painting, and I’m taking a more thoughtful approach to making that into a business. I’ll take stock again in the summer to see what’s working and what’s not. So if you made it this far, thanks for reading and thanks for being interested in my passions.