The Laws of Nature

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Planning for the Future

Every year I take time to think about what I have or have not accomplished as an artist as I prepare for the future. Now that we're in the fourth quarter of 2009, it's time to reflect and plan. I thought I'd share this with you because I've found that setting forth a clearly defined set of goals for the upcoming year has had a positive influence on my career as an artist. However, I'm careful not to set seemingly unattainable goals (like having my work acquired by MoMA in NYC this year!). Rather, I examine each sector of my career to imagine what could be possible; what will move me in a forward direction. Here are the sectors that I consider:

1. The direction of my work. How can I further develop the series of paintings I'm working on? As I continue to develop concepts for a new series, which one should I select? (I always work in multiple series during the year).

2. The quality of my work. First, I must honestly evaluate the quality of what I've done and identify the problems. This extends beyond the painting itself to the matting and framing. One thing that helps me evaluate quality is to look at the works of others who've achieved a higher level of mastery. This comparison points out the obvious flaws in my work.

3. Juried exhibitions: How many juried exhibitions did I enter this past year and what was my success rate? Which juried exhibitions give me the most "bang for my buck?" Entry fees are steep and some exhibitions just aren't worth it. So, I must decide which I'll enter in the upcoming year.

4. Solo exhibitions: I can't manage to do a major solo exhibition every year in addition to all my other art activities, so I must decide if this will be the year to push for another solo exhibit. Sometimes I'm invited, sometimes I must knock on doors. (BTW - I was invited to do a solo exhibit this year and have accepted - but that'll be the only one in 2010).

5. Grant applications: Usually, if I have a solo exhibition coming up I look for grant support to help defray the costs of the materials, travel, and advertising. So, I'll be writing a grant proposal this January for my upcoming exhibition in June. In the past, I've had good luck with this.

6. Continuing my education in art: Should I take a workshop or course this year? Probably not in 2010. I'll be too busy. So, I'll pursue reading art-related books, visiting museums and galleries, discussions with professional artists, etc. as my method for continuing education.

7. Teaching art: I'll be teaching workshops all over the country in 2010 about concept development for painting and am fully booked. So, no planning needed there. As I look to the future, I'm almost fully booked for 2011 and planning 2012. So, the only thing I need to plan is NOT to overbook!

8. Reflective time: Yes ... I must schedule time to reflect in a productive way that yields results. This is a discipline that requires formalizing thoughts and ideas through journals and/or research. So, I think about what my daily schedule should be when I'm not on the road teaching. I like the schedule I established this year: paint for two hours in the morning, spend three hours in reflection/research/journaling. Paint during the afternoon. Reflect for an hour after dinner. Once it becomes a habit, it's easy to do. Without reflective time, it's easy to veer off course and can be detrimental to my work.

9. Finances: This is the worst! I hate bookeeping, budgeting, etc. But, I keep an Excel spreadsheet and record all my income/expenses on it so I can keep track of how I'm doing and also make it easier to file for taxes. At the end of each year I consider which sectors of my art activities yield the highest income. Sales of paintings? Awards? Teaching? etc. This doesn't necessarily influence how I'll divide my time in the future, but gives me an idea of how I can pay all my bills in 2010! And, I must pay attention to that.

10. Connections: Which artists have helped me advance as an artist and person? How have my associations either helped or hurt me? Is there a relationship that I need to change? How can I be a better friend to the people who have befriended me? How can I extend to others in the art community to build a mutually beneficial professional relationship? How much time can I realistically spend on this and not sacrifice studio time, etc?


Margaret Ryall said...

I truly appreciate this post Kathy. I am a long term planner who developed a plan when I began my art career in 2001. It took me longer to reach the goals I had set for myself than I expected. This past year I'm happy to report I have accomplished these goals. It is now time to begin more intensive yearly planning. This is how my head works - it is all those years in education.

Your modeling of the process you use is very helpful and will allow me to branch of from it into my own plan. Did I say thank you?

hwfarber said...

About the photo--seeing your beautiful work in a gallery setting is even better than I imagined.

I am totally in awe of your planning and organization.

Constance McLennan said...

Again, I'm so glad I found your blog. This entry and the previous one are great. You must be a wonderful teacher. So many things I have never considered about how to plan and proceed as a fine artist.

I had no idea your paintings were so large--they have teriffic impact.

Kathy said...

Margaret, I'm impressed to learn that you met all your goals this year. That's quite an accomplishment! I'd like to know more about how you plan since I suspect there are some areas I've neglected. (you're welcome :)

HW - Thank you so much! The painting featured with this post is a triptych in oils on wood panel. The exhibition was at the John Grosvenor Gallery at SUNY.

Hi Constance - thanks so much for reading my blog. I'd like to know your ideas about some of this "stuff" I post. I enjoy reading your blog as well!

Margaret Ryall said...

I'm not that good. I planned very broad goals starting five years ago when I was just learning which medium I was interested in. It was more where do you see yourself in five years and a list of how will you get there. I only ticked the last one off with my show in Ottawa. Now I need to have objectives which will be achievable in a much shorter period of time. The structure I am most familiar with is one used in strategic planning for organizations - Goals, objectives, actions, timeline, evaluation. I will have it ready to go in the new year. You post gave me ideas about things I should be considering and hadn't. I'm willing to share when I have it completed.

Sheila said...

Thank you for this post. and CONGRATULATIONS on having a solo show planned for 2010!!!!

Shouldn't writing a book based on all the information you've posted be a 2 or 3 year goal for you? I'll put in my advanced order now.

Kathy said...

Oh, Sheila! I doubt that I'll ever write a book, but thanks for the vote of confidence. At this point, I'm lucky to articulate my thoughts on a blog :)