Here’s the chaotic “Cezanne stage” of a little painting of a rocky hillside that I’m working on. It began with coincidence and impulse. I had just finished cleaning a little frame, which I propped against a drawing, just getting the frame out of the way, when I noticed how nicely it cropped the drawing into a new composition. “Why not?” I thought.
I needed a surface. There was an old scrap of canvas, which I taped to a board using old tape (old everything). First round of old tape — the red — didn’t work. So I used silver duct tape over that (hence the intriguing little framed effect).
A random bit of happenstance inspired the composition. So, it’s on the easel now. And the picture is green while outside it’s cold. Between cycles of the furnace, it’s cold inside too! And the weatherman says it’s going to be cold all week. But in my mind, here’s where I am. And here inside my mind … it’s balmy here.
January is a natural time for making plans. A whole year’s calendar sits there all open and full of possibility. I’ve been reading a lot about goal setting during the last year and so my “new year’s resolution” this year is to be more consistently resolved! I have always enjoyed making plans but I never realized that there’s a real art to planning itself.
I’ve been reading books by Brian Tracy, the best of which, in my opinion, are “Maximum Achievement,” “Goals!” and “Eat that Frog.” And I just read Tony Robbins’ book “Awaken the Giant Within” which is full of wisdom. Some of his stories are a little dated now, but the ideas are pristine.
The first element of goal setting is self-examination. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want from art at this phase of my life. I look back at some of my earliest heroes, artists like Claude Monet (above). I want to figure out how to emulate my heroes. So, for instance, I’d like to master large landscape painting.
As the goal books will tell you, big plans need to be parsed into smaller, doable, trackable chunks. For that reason I’m doing a gazillion small landscape paintings, and I’m approaching them in many different ways. I’m using acrylic paint because it dries quickly but I know that much of what I learn from free-wheeling acrylic painting can be translated into oil also. And I’m going to translate it.
There are many other facets to my particular plans and I won’t bore readers with the details. Each person has different goals and every project needs to be thought through in its individual paths.
I just want to share some of my enthusiasm for the beginning of another year. It’s a blank canvas. It is full of possibility. You have many choices about how to paint your year. And I encourage you to embark on the new year with joy.
So, eat that frog! You can even paint that frog. If you’re an artist, you can have your frog and paint your frog and eat it too!
(You’ll have to read Brian Tracy’s brilliant book, though, if you want to get the joke!)