It’s that time again…
Time to make a to-do list for life. Time to reassess, plan, and gather good intentions. This is a great time to take a look at your art practice from last year and see if you can push it further in 2018. Here are some of our suggestions for small, attainable Art New Years Resolutions. Some are ongoing practices, and some are one-time exercises. All will help you improve your art, your understanding, and your knowledge in the New Year!
#1: Redraw An Old Drawing
In mid 2017, a meme went around called the Draw This Again challenge. Artists challenged themselves to draw something they had drawn early in their artistic “career” again, to show how much they had changed and improved. This is a great way for artists to practice their work. It directly shows how much your skills have progressed by tackling the same subject, instead of an apples-to-oranges comparison with different subjects. It can be a huge confidence booster for amateur artists, and a fantastic tool for analysis for more professional artists- it will be an easy way to see how far you’ve come and how far you may still have to go.
You can choose to make this a running resolution. Try recreating a favorite historical Master’s work multiple times- like something by Michelangelo or Degas. Or pick a specific subject to redraw every year in January, and keep a year-over-year running assessment of your skills. If you don’t want to redraw something you’ve created previously, draw something now with the intent to redraw it next December- you’ll be amazed how a little time and practice can change things!
#2: Follow New Artists On Social Media
We’ve spoken before about the importance of keeping up with the contemporary art scene. It keeps you up to date on art news, and informs your own art practice by continually supplying you with new information and different perspectives. 2018 is a great time to start following the careers of other artists, and with social media, it’s never been easier. When you see artwork you like in a gallery or museum, google the artist and find their website. Search for your favorite materials on Instagram (#oilpastels, #gouache, etc), or simply search #artwork. The next time an art piece that speaks to you goes viral, dig deeper: find that artists other work, or explore similar artists.
Look for local artists in your town, and find their artwork on Facebook, Imgur, Reddit, wherever! Don’t discount comics- those who make webcomics and other digital sequential art are contemporary artists too, and following them on social media can give you a daily dose of aesthetics combined with humor, which is always good. Swapping some of the social media drama for new artwork will improve your mind and your mood. Interspersing your aunt’s political posts and your friend’s brunch pics with some contemporary art will do wonders to spruce up your social media feeds!
#3: Try A New Drawing Technique
Drawing is the foundation of fine art, and the act of drawing is physically thinking your way through a composition. Break through the barriers of routine and try a new way of thinking through your artwork. In 2018, whatever the usual is, upset it. Draw upside down, try to draw with charcoal taped to a long stick, try mass drawing, draw in one long line without letting your pencil leave the paper, sketch with your off-hand, draw from life, draw from reference photos, experiment with cubism, try sketching with paint instead of dry media. Whatever you’re used to, do something different.
If you discover a method of drawing that you never use or don’t understand, try to figure out why it doesn’t immediately jive with your style, habits, or personality. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by pushing out of your comfort zone. Is your drawing style more precise than this method? More tightly controlled? Or more free-form? Does this new method of drawing add something to your practice, or is it antithetical to the message you’re trying to convey, and why? Exploring different drawing methods is a great Resolution for any artist this year. It will be frustrating, difficult, maybe infuriating, and ultimately so SO enlightening.
#4: Try a Medium You’ve Never Tried Before
Okay, yes, you got me: this was one of our resolutions last year. But it’s still valid! For artists, “try a new medium” is like “lose 10 pounds”- it’s a New Years Resolution that’s relevant year after year, and there are new mediums and mixed media techniques being created every year.
In 2018 (and every year!), seek out something you’ve never dabbled in before. You don’t have to stray too far: If you’re a habitual acrylic painter, try mixing your acrylics with one of Golden’s acrylic mediums or glazes, like fiber paste or molding paste, or gloss gel medium. Experiment with Open Acrylics and their extended dry time, or High Flow Acrylics with their thinner consistency. If you work primarily in oils, try water soluble oil paints, or Gamblin solvent free gel. If your work in oil pastels or chalk pastels, switch to the other kind for a piece or two, and appreciate the similarities and differences. If you work in graphite, add a little color to your life with colored pencils, or go fluid with water soluble graphite. You could go for a big change- if you work mostly in 2D, try 3D art, or vice versa. You may find exactly the medium you never knew you were looking for!