The Importance of a Vision Roadmap
Having an epiphany or formulating a vision for our lives or careers can be inspiring and fun. However, if we don’t have a plan to make that vision or dream a reality, we can quickly lose our way. We can end up continuing the way we’ve been going just nursing some vague wishes rather than changing our lives. I know this to be true because I’ve done it, many times.
In this post I explain how I created a roadmap for my new vision, how I determined the needed steps, and why I believe it is a realistic plan.
Identifying My Destination
First, I set out to gather clues. If I am going to become a more authentic artist, I needed to define what that meant. What kind of artist am I? What did I learn from these life-altering workshops?
I had begun this work with the vision board and new palette projects.
Critiquing my work revealed gaps in my skill set such as trouble with value and weak composition.
Next I identified the artist’s work I’m drawn to right now and what attracts me. What does my attraction to their work tell me about what is missing in mine?
Now that I have a clear picture of where I am and where I want to go it is time to chart a course, by establishing the areas of greatest change. In what areas do I need to focus?
Inspired by a chart in the book “Conversations in Paint” by Charles Dunn I began a comparison of where I am and where I want to go.
What My Research Revealed
The biggest gaps concern value, volume (which I think links to value ) and taking a more painterly approach (I lumped being more concept related in here too.) Value issues came up in my critiques as well. Overall, a shift to a more natural yet painterly approach while improving values and composition.
Determining My Third Quarter Objectives
After reviewing everything I decided I needed to:
- Broaden my knowledge base regarding the wanted changes
- Get lots of practice both in seeing and execution
- Create a body of work.
Below are the steps I’ve established, for now, to accomplish my objectives.
Broaden My Knowledge Base
There are three books I’m finding very helpful right now. I want to dig deeper into them by reading and then doing exercises based on what I’ve read.
My summer reading list is:
- The Landscape Painters Workbook by Mitchell Alabama I stumbled upon this book online & think it looks promising.
- Create Perfect Paintings by Nancy Reyner was a recommendation from a trusted source that is proving an invaluable reference.
- Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art by Dan McCaw is an old friend (evidenced by the worn & paint smeared dust cover). It’s been years since I’ve read it and I’ve grown so much, both personally & artistically, since then it is like a new read.
While reviewing past sketchbooks, in the research phase, I remembered how much I enjoyed art journaling in the past and wanted to revive the practice. It provides daily practice and gives me the freedom to utilize a variety of skills and methods as I read about them.
Create a Body of New Work
I’ve heard it said that when making a drawing one should draw the same thing 3 times. The more familiar we become with a subject the easier it is to execute and the more refined the drawing can become.
I decided to apply that to paintings and embarked on a series of 8” x 8” paintings on paper. If I work on 2 compositions a week and each is painted 3 times that will give me 6 paintings a week. At the end of the quarter that should give me roughly 40 small paintings.
Anticipating and Addressing Issues
Real life rarely goes as planned and we humans have ever-changing needs and emotions. Therefore, it is a good idea to plan for this ahead of time so life or a mood swing doesn’t knock us off course. Like any artist I don’t always feel like creating, I lose momentum and am plagued from time to time with doubts and uncertainty.
What To Do When I Don’t Feel Like Painting
- Gesso paper and canvases so they are ready to paint in another session.
- Cut large pieces of art paper into squares for the 8″ x 8″ paintings.
- Pour painting starts or otherwise create that first layer where free expression is encouraged providing a lively under painting for more serious work later on.
- Play with materials and tools. This also works for loss of momentum. Just take some time to play and experiment reconnecting with the pure joy of creating.
Loss of Momentum
Years ago I purchased the carved wooden word Dream as an inspirational shelf decoration. Well, it fell from the shelf and broke, twice. I glued it back together and now it is a reminder that broken dreams can be mended. This may sound silly to you but it works for me. A wise woman once told me it doesn’t matter what the talisman is as long as the person believes in it.
Doubts About Direction and Ability
When we focus intently on where we want to go, how we want to grow, and what we want to learn it is easy to lose track of what we’ve already accomplished. When struggling with a painting in those ugly middle stages it is easy to doubt our abilities.
The Jello Files
One evening, early on in teaching myself to paint, my subject was a plate of bell peppers of various colors. I didn’t understand the properties of acrylic paints, color mixing, or much of anything else. The completed painting reminded me of brightly colored Jello molded in the shape of peppers.
I’ve held on to that painting over the years. When I feel stupid or clueless or hopeless I pull it out. It is a great reminder of how far I’ve come and howI felt the same emotions when I was working on that painting. I thought I’d never learn about paint, but I did. I thought I’d never learn about form or perspective, but I did. I thought it was hopeless, but it wasn’t.
Now that I think about it, including some positive milestones in the Jello pepper file would be beneficial as well. This week I painted an 8” painting that was a big departure for me; didn’t look like anything I’ve ever done (in a good way). It still had issues but reassured me that I am growing and changing. Transformation is possible.
Vision Board and Journal
My Vision Board is attached to my studio door. Keeping it highly visible provides daily inspiration and reminds me of my goals. It provides the stars I navigate by letting me know if I’ve wandered off course chasing some shiny new thing.
Journaling is an invaluable tool helping me to put words to my nebulous feelings so I can better understand what is happening and what I should do. Besides, once our doubts and fears are expressed they lose some of their power.
Regular Reviews to Stay on Course
Regular review of our plans helps us to stay on course and creates a place to make any adjustments along the way. I plan for the coming week sometime over the weekend, usually Sunday. Then the last week of a quarter I spend a little more time preparing for the next 3 months.
Below are the review questions. The quarterly review is pretty much the same except I am dealing with bigger goals and longer time frames.
- What was the high point for the week? Biggest win or triumph? Moment of greatest joy?
- What did I accomplish? Boxes ticked? Unplanned victories?
- What didn’t get done? Is it still relevant? (if so move it to the next week)
Questions for Planning the Week Ahead:
- Check the monthly/quarterly calendar. What needs to be done this week?
- What else do I want to accomplish this week? When? Will I need anyone to help?
Taking a few minutes to plan on Sunday frees me to be in the moment as I go about the rest of my week. I know it sounds like an oxymoron but I need to plan so I can be spontaneous.
The Importance of Knowing Yourself
Structure is necessary to attain goals but I’ve found too much structure causes me to shut down. I need freedom and flexibility. It is important to know ourselves and be honest about what works and what doesn’t. What may be a great method for one person may not work for another.
I know some who wouldn’t get much done without an hour-by-hour schedule for the day. Setting time limits for productivity is OK but when I have every minute planned I question the point of existence.
I have found, for me, having 3 goals for the day is the right balance. Their completion is very important to me assuring I get them done. When and how this happens is up to me in the flow of my day. This allows for spontaneity and living in my life. We must know ourselves, our needs, and our limits.
Structure helps us set realistic expectations and make steady progress toward our goals. However, I don’t think there is one roadmap that works for everyone. We need to be honest with ourselves about our strengths and limitations and plan accordingly.
I know over time my roadmap will need some adjustments and detours to allow for boredom or the unexpected.
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