I am a serial list maker. I make work lists, design lists, shopping lists, wish lists . . . it just goes on. I am not, however, so good at checking things off those lists.
Being a bit of a day dreamer, there’s a lot I want to do at any given time. I know where I want to be. I’m not always clear on how I’m getting there.
Because, let’s be real here, I am also a serial procrastinator. I’m getting better, but I still fall down from time to time. And those big goals can be entirely terrifying to actually start to move towards.
At the beginning of this year, I sat down and charted out some creative projects I wanted to complete. It was a bit daunting – there were some things there that I’d never attempted before! I broke each project down into steps, and I’ve been working on the small steps ever since.
And you know what? It’s going well. I’ve hit saving goals, begun to build up my new art studio equipment, and begun gently herding my style and technique in the direction I wish it to grow.
Back in February, I scheduled May as my ‘start-date’ for my first easel painting. My painting supplies are arriving tomorrow, my easel is set up, and the studio is approximately the temperature of Antartica. I’m pretty excited to begin.
So, for those that are interested, this is the pattern of steps I use to manage my creative goals!
Write down the idea, inspiration and concept of the project. What is the end goal?
For a painting, I draw sketchy little thumbnails, make some messy notes, capture the feeling of that image in my mind.
Understand everything needed to achieve it. Make a task list.
Think about materials, skills, experience, research. This is one of the most exciting parts of project planning, where the list-maker can rejoice! I keep a sketchbook where I plan out things like paintings to study, motifs and symbolism ideas, colour palettes, reference to gather . . . I make a list of actions I can do to equip myself best for the end project.
Then work through that list.
Focusing on one thing at a time, pay attention to the steps that will build up into that finished project. I do my studies, research motifs and stories, paint out swatches, and do many sketches. I’ll also do a smaller version of the final piece – a rough postcard-sized concept, and then a larger, more detailed painting sketch that is a miniature of the finished one. They are like rehearsals for that final painting, so when I stand in front of my easel, it won’t feel so unknown, or so challenging.
Accept that it will take time and effort. But that’s why it is worth something.
I am excited to share the process of my new paintings as they go, so expect some more art-related posts in the weeks to come! In the meantime, please check out my latest digital sketchbook in my shop. It’s a compilation of my sketchbook notes from my time in Paris, mostly spent at the Louvre.