The 3 Best Things I Did For My Art in 2011

I love a good end of year wrap-up post, don’t you? The inspiration for this blog post came from Megan Auman of Designing an MBA and her post, “The 3 Best Things I Did For My Business in 2011”. 2011 was a tipping point year for my art so I thought I’d run with the theme.Three Hearts Tryptych

1. I started finishing things

In January of 2011 , I confessed to being a serial project starter. I’d begin a painting of a toaster one day and the next I’d be all about velociraptors (*random subjects chosen for exaggerated effect*). Some people thrive when working like this. The problem with this for me is that my interest in paintings has a shelf-life. If I don’t finish them in a certain amount of time, they’ll never be finished.

It’s not just that I lose interest. It’s more that in the time it’s taken me to begin the painting then lose interest in it, my technique has improved enough so that I now scorn my earlier work. At this point, it’s not so much a matter of continuing with the painting and improving what I can but painting over the entire thing. All of which meant that I wasn’t finishing anything or if I was it was at a glacial rate.

A very unsatisfying state of affairs.

With this nugget of self-insight in mind I decided to sacrifice many beginnings and focus on a few select paintings at a time. My productivity and “job” satisfaction this year has been much improved.

2. I narrowed my focus to two techniques and a limited palette

This was the year in which I began to find my arty sea legs and produce work that I really like. I decided to take the two techniques I’d been using in these pieces and commit to focusing soley on them for the rest of the year. I’ve made quite a bit of progress in technique thanks to this decision.

I also discovered the magic of limited palettes in 2011 and have been working with them ever since. This means all of my paintings are now produced using three primaries, white, sometimes black, and occasionally an earth tone, usually burnt umber. This is all in the hope of discovering my very own optimal colour palette, as inspired by such sassy lasses as Amy Sol, Laura Berger, and Natasha Newton.

You see, I have a system. I have a warm and a cool of each primary colour and I’m cycling through every possible combination of them and recording the results. My hypothesis is that one of these combinations will be optimal for what I have in mind.

Of course, my optimal colour palette could consist entirely of hues I don’t own, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

3. I bought a couple of “Acrylic Painting 101” type books

My pre-2011 painting days were full of all sorts of frustrating little niggles. Just simple little things stemming from my lack of understanding of the medium. I finally bit the bullet and bought a couple of beginner level books and now acrylic is my bitch.

And, in the interests of completeness, here is something I aimed to improve in 2011 and am having to roll over to the 2012 goal sheet because of utter failure:

I didn’t spend enough time in the studio

Mind you, I did get in more studio time in 2011 than any other year. Even so, I went for long tracts of time without painting. I’m going to have a bit of a sit down and ponder why this happened and how not to do it in 2012.

A Little List of Mini Victories to Honour the Small but Mighty

  • I created a Facebook page for Nellie Windmill, which felt oh-so-grown-up and business-like.
  • I overhauled the design of my blog in a gazillion little ways (and it still feels like there are a gazillion more to go!).
  • After an obscene amount of failed attempts I’ve finally managed to stick to a blogging schedule, which is both frequent enough and manageable.
  • I finally got the content on my blog under control and am blogging mostly about my art.
  • My little owl in pants dude got himself in a calendar.
  • A new artist friend invited me to show in an exhibition she runs in Exmoor next year!
  • A curated online gallery expressed interest in featuring my work when I open my Etsy shop!
  • A wee painting of mine was featured on Imaginative Bloom.

How about you? What were the best (and worst) things you did for your art in 2011?

5 Comments The 3 Best Things I Did For My Art in 2011

  1. Irene

    Hi Nellie! What a lovely post! Really like the idea of the list of best things done in 2011.

    I too hope to spend more time on my lab (it’s still under restyling but hope it will be ready soon!)

    Good luck for your projects, wish you a great 2012!


  2. julie

    Ok, all of those things resonated with me. I should just cut and paste your post right into my journal just to remember your advice. Hope you have another wonderful year! Julie

  3. Katherine

    Thanks gals! I hadn’t actually thought of this post as advice, but I’m glad it resonated with some people.



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