Before January is over, I wanted to make a resolution list. 2020 for many was a difficult and stressful year. The resolutions I wanted to create should be reasonable to incorporate into my life, but not cause a burden.

I’ve chosen just 5 goals for 2021. It’s never too late to adopt a resolution at any point in the year. Most people are focusing more on their mental and physical health. I’ve made a few goals for my own heath and a few relating to art.

Goal 1: Exercise or stretch for 10 minutes a day.

My health was not the best in 2020 (especially the last quarter). Like many, I gained weight, stopped exercising altogether, and became a hermit. As I’ve gotten older, my neck and back have been particularly sensitive to stress. Sitting with poor posture has led to many headaches and backaches.

In 2021 I’d like to start a routine of spending part of my day caring for my own body. If you’re interested in the equipment, exercise videos, and routines I’ve started, I’d be happy to share it in another post.

Goal 2: Join a pastel group – COMPLETE! Jan 4. 2021

I had this goal in 2020, but never committed to joining. Many art groups for pastelists are specific to a state, region, or country. Art groups may not be appealing to every artist, but they can be great centers for sharing resources, learning opportunities through workshops, and art competitions.

I follow several pastel groups on Instagram. Earlier this month I submitted my application to the Pastel Society of the West Coast (PSWC). As the name implies, their members are primarily in Washington, Oregon, and California, but they accept members from across the U.S. and abroad.

Goal 3: Enter 3 art competitions

Probably the fear of rejection has always been the main barrier when I’ve faltered prior to entering competitions in the past. Shows can be sponsored by art groups mentioned earlier, museums, or corporations. I have a shortlist in mind, but I’ll work on making a list of 10-20 contests and narrow them down to three that I can reasonably finish in time for the deadlines.

I highly recommend artists of all skill levels and art mediums to enter competitions. Often, competitions are themed and will force you to try a new subject or interpret the prompt in your own personal way.

Most competitions will have a small fee and rules for entering. Be sure to read the prospectus (rules and submission guidelines) before entering any contest. With Covid-19 affecting many galleries, several competitions will be displayed online-only. This change makes contests more accessible because you may not be required to frame and ship/deliver the artwork.

For more information about learning about competitions, I’ve linked two resources below. Most competitions are located in the U.S., but several International competitions are also listed.

Goal 4: Read 6 art books

Since high school, the number of books I read per year has always been a single digit number. I would like to focus on reading one art book every other month. When I refer to art books, it can be a biography of a single artist, a structured lesson plan with tutorials, or a historical book covering a specific period or type of art.

I recently finished reading Pastel Painting Atelier by Ellen Eagle. Of course there are chapters I skimmed over and some that I found more interesting.

My local library is currently closed, but they do offer a convenient curbside pickup option if you reserve books through their website. Their online books can be read on any eReader, computer, or phone. Check with your city to see if a similar program is available to you!

Goal 5: Take more notes

I used to take very detailed notes after each completed drawing when I was first learning how to use pastels. As time went on, and I developed confidence in my work process, I thought that I could remember everything in my head.

I was wrong.

I can’t name every brand of paper I’ve used or all the colors that went into my last drawing. The only clear memories are usually tied to an experiment gone awry. In 2021 I want to be better at documenting my successes and failures with the majority of my work. In Ellen’s book, she mentioned that she kept a notebook on hand to note how the lighting in her studio affected the colors of her models. If a professional artist uses a notebook maybe I should too!

Sometimes, I discover that a specific color is instrumental to the drawing (therefore I should probably buy a backup of the item). I should write these notes in one collective space to remind my future self.

I discovered a notebook I purchased years ago that will be perfectly suited for the job. I have it on my desk at all times so that I can easily reach for it when something exciting (or disastrous) happens. 

Bonus Goal 6: Keep learning and growing as an artist

The trend behind most of the goals for 2021 is personal growth. I was beginning to think that I had tried most of the brands of pastels and surfaces available in 2020. I felt like I had found my go-to materials and that’s what I would use for all my future works.

Reading the first few chapters of Pastel Painting Atelier covered information I knew, but there were small gems that piqued my curiosity. In Ellen’s book, I was particularly intrigued with how she prepares her surfaces for pastel work. The cycle of learning, experimenting, creating, failing, and sometimes succeeding is never-ending. I briefly forgot this key element in the last half of 2020.

Lifelong learning is not just limited to 2021. I’ll be keeping this goal in mind with every new year.

If you would like to share any of your goals, I’d love to read about it in the comments. 🙂


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