Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Road Map for 2009

Plaid Dress, Oil on Birch Panel, 12x16

Ahhhhh. The last day of 2008. But more importantly to me at this moment, it's the last day of the month, which means I am done with posting here every. single. day. Not that I have hated it, mind you. In fact it was fun, a good challenge and it also came at a good time. I was feeling a bit like I needed a break from the blog and now after posting so much, I feel energized about it all again, even if it has taken quite a bit of time each day. However, I feel great about the last month here-I had a birthday present contest, wrote a few sob stories a bit about my background, struggled with a decision about going to a residency and even participated in 100 Things, a meme going around in blogland which is the sort of thing I don't usually do. I do wish I had been painting more though, so I could have posted more new work.

The last half of 2008 was a slow time for me, I didn't have much, well anything really, going on show wise and even though I was trying to develop some new work I was pretty lackadaisical about it. I wanted to be busier but just couldn't be. I guess I just needed a break and it came at a good time, because looking back I see that I was getting pretty close to being burned out about art completely. As it is I am only close to being burned on painting landscapes, and I think I have even backed away from the edge of that by taking such a good long break from it all. On a more personal note, the slower time was really important for me to adjust to Ginger's diabetes as well. I have had time to research it, and get used to it all and I needed that. So I have no regrets about my less than productive second half of 2008, except that I wish I had spent more time enjoying it rather than feeling guilty about my productivity.

But now I HAVE to get moving! I have an exhibit schedule this year, as well as some goals to move my career along. I had a plan for all this which included spending a month at the Vermont Studio Center, however that was scrapped because of our personal finances. So I have rearranged things and in some ways it is much more practical for me to stay home and work in my own (new!) studio.

I am not making new year's resolutions exactly, and I don't usually like to talk about what I will do (I worry about jinxes) but I am feeling pretty excited about all this so what the heck. I have most of the coming year mapped out which will just so happen to start on January 1st, actually more like Jan. 5 which is when the kids go back to school, but whatever. This is what I have planned for the next three months:

1. I am taking the whole month of January to work on the figurative paintings. I have decided not to pursue new gallery representation based on my landscape work, with the possible exception of finding a new seasonal gallery, perhaps in Cape Cod again. I already have two galleries showing the landscapes/barns and I don't want to go back to doing quite so many paintings for so many different places and events (I still love painting the landscape and want to save myself from burning out on them).

To that end, I will finish 20 figurative paintings on panel in January and hopefully at least 15 of them will be good enough to send out in order to pursue new representation.

2. In conjunction with the figurative work I will do at least five monochromatic underpaintings on gessoed paper each week, of the figure, with the intent of leaving them as is, meaning no color glazes.

3. I will continue to paint 5-10 small paintings per week to sell on my other blog.

4. And even if it kills me to do it so early, I will put together all my tax info from 2008 by the end of January. It actually doesn't take that long, it's just one of the things I really tend to put off doing each year until the very last minute.

5. I will also spend an afternoon each week or so, working on some collage ideas I have which combine my painting with the photographs I have been collecting for the figurative work. I did some of this in college and it was something I never really pursued after. So naturally, that's all I can think about doing now. heh. Anyway, this is just a fun thing to do, something I didn't do enough of in the past when I had so much going on.

In February, I will have to shift gears a bit as I have a solo show in April to prepare for. So continuing on:

6. I will paint at least four landscape/barn paintings each week in February and March, with several being large scale (for me), 40x60 or so.

7. I will continue on with the figurative pieces, painting at least three per week (or possibly every other week since I don't have unlimited storage). These are most successful when I work in batches so I should have at least three going at a time.

8. I will continue with the monochromatic paintings, and will probably still try to do five per week. Once the paper is prepared and everything is set up, it is just as east to do five as it is to do one or two, so I may as well do as many as I can.

9. And this year, I plan to keep up with recording my expenses each month, instead of going back and digging out the receipts at the end of the year. It should be easier this year to keep up, since I am pretty well stocked for supplies, have no money to spend and don't plan to go anywhere or do anything. Might take me all of 2 minutes to do a bit of bookkeeping each month....

10. And also in February I will begin sending out my info to the list of galleries that I have been putting together that I think may be receptive to my figurative paintings.

I will suspend everything though in the last few weeks of March so I can finish everything up for the show that opens at the beginning of April. I have another show in August and will have to prepare for that in June and July, mostly June actually because the kids are out of school in July and I figured out a long time ago not to expect to be able to get much done when they are home on summer vacation.

Unless more exhibition opportunities come up, for the rest of the year I will work on finding a way to balance working on both figurative and landscapes. Both subjects need different things from me, but I am sure that if I keep working consistently I will be able to get better at doing both at the same time.

And because no list of resolutions goals is ever complete for me without including losing a few pounds and exercising more I will add that as well. I have let my exercise go in the last few years and even more in the last few months, so that along with a recent issue involving Lindt dark chocolate truffles means I need to get out for a walk each day at the very least. So a daily morning walk (and no chocolate)is number 11.

12. Ok, let's make it an even dozen while we here. I will have to post here just a bit less in 2009. When I started the blog I was pretty faithful about posting each weekday, but in the last 6 months or so I got a bit spotty with that. Not because I didn't have time, but because I didn't have so much going on, at least as far as making art goes. I was also feeling like I had told all my good stories and I wasn't too sure that I had much more to share. Like I said though, this last month helped me feel more enthusiastic about the blog again. BUT once I sit down at the computer to write a post, I tend to go on to other things and before I know it the day is almost gone and the school bus is coming up the road. So I will need to have at least a few days where I don't sit down at my desk first thing each morning. I have decided to post Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, posts where I talk a lot (but don't worry, few will be as long as THIS post, thankfully:)). And if it turns out that the work I am doing is presentable, I will put up an image or two in between.

Well, this is my plan. Now that I have put it out in public, I will stick to it right? Um, right. Actually I feel pretty confident about this, I am excited about what I will paint and anyway I have a few tangible deadlines to keep me on track.

A quick comment about the piece shown above: I think it is one of the best portraits I've done so far. It has many of the elements that I want my portraits to have; a sense of reality, a few abstract qualities, somewhat disturbing emotions and good color. It also happens to be on my favorite support-birch panel. Coincidence? You decide...

Thanks for reading my little old blog here, and for sticking with me through this crazy post-every-day-for-a-month-thing. I am going to take a few days off now, but will be back on Monday, all ready to prattle on, and to paint too.

Happy new year, everyone!


Lorna said...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy,

What sort of studio-work time schedule are you planning to follow in the new year? Do you have set hours/days that you work on paintings? I'm amazed at your productivity, and would love to know more about your work habits! Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Marilyn Fenn said...

I am impressed with what sounds like an ambitious amount of painting.

Enjoyed reading of your plans.

Happy New Year!

Diane Hoeptner said...

Oh-so ambitious, Tracy. Love that. Have a wonderful New Year!!

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thanks Lorna, you too!

Anonymous, my studio time will be the same as it usually is, I can really only work effectively while the kids are in school, so I have from 7:48 (when the bus comes) until about 3:30pm although some days they stay for sports so I can work until 5pm. I have gotten into the habit of doing stuff on the computer in the morning then painting in the afternoons but need to break this habit if I want to get this figurative stuff done. I try to fit the other stuff I have to do during the rest of the day and evenings.

Thanks Marilyn And Diane, I guess it sounds ambitious but if I stay OFF the computer:) it is totally manageable. I have let the computer take me over during this slow time and have not been as productive as I used to be.

Casey Klahn said...

Congrats on your posting every day goal. I enjoyed all of it, and i like your paragraph style goals, instead of the typical "bullet points" we all do.


Unknown said...

Whew! Your list sounds very ambitious. I can't even imagine how you get any painting done with four kids and a house to take care of. So I admire you for that. And your stories are told so well, and you'll never run out, just your everyday life is interesting when described by you.
I think you should go to Vermont and get that creative charge we can all give each other when in a group. You know?
You have given me more umph to get my goals completed. I've been working on them, so I'll post them on my blog in a few days.
Happy New Year, Tracy, and let it be the best one yet for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Tracy!

You said you didn't have much going on last year. Maybe you should re-read your blog? I'm remembering things like gardens and chickens and kids and a new studio and art making and shows and . . . . and!

These portraits are wonderful. Good luck with them!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my question! (I have the same problem with the computer habits!) Good luck with everything, and I look forward to seeing your new figurative work.

Anonymous said...

I like this portrait very much and think it is one of your best (not that I'm an expert or anything!). I'm enjoying the chance to see you move forward in new creative directions. All the best for a happy and fruitful 2009--

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thanks Casey, and it didn't occur to me to post my goals as bullet points. Um, because I always feel that I must chatter on and explain about everything....

Thanks Deborah, glad to inspire. I will go to Vermont next year and will certainly get some new fodder there for my blog:) Looking forward to reading about your goals.

Martha, Oh I guess I was thinking about how quiet the last part of the year was. I didn't have any shows or anything after July, and even though I was busy enough with the kids, I did fritter away the days pretty well:)

You are welcome Anon. Yeah, these dang computers are addictive, good luck getting away from yours too!

Thanks Ann, so glad that someone has finally agreed with my rather bold statement about this painting. I am looking forward to really focusing on the portraits too.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

post less here, oh no!

indiaartist said...

Happy New Year, Tracy and all the best for all your New Year Resolutions!

Robyn Sinclair said...

Fantastic painting. Character shines through and the beautiful fields of colour which I so admire in your landscapes work just a beautifully here.

Your plan makes my head spin!

M.A.H. said...

Hey Tracy,
Loved reading the goals. I posted mine, but am so completely obsessed with external things right now, that I forgot about listing the nuts and bolts stuff like my monthly quota for paintings this year. Thanks for the grounding.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Well, it's a goal, Gary, one that I may NOT accomplish:)

Happy New Year to you too, indiartist!

Robyn, I guess it sounds like a lot but I used to accomplish way more in a day than I have been lately and I am just hoping to get back to that.

Thanks Mary, i actually don't usually post goals because I am worried about jinxing myself somehow, but I have been in a rut lately and so I thought I needed to kick myself. Or at least risk public humiliation, which may work too:) Either way, glad to inspire...

Caroline Roberts said...

Hi Tracy,

I love your list of goals. I have the same trouble with the computer sucking me in. I plan to use a timer this year to try to keep it under control. (Ha!)

I'm amazed you get so much painting in during the school day, especially with computer time all morning. Do you plan paintings or sketch out ideas at other times? Also, how do you survive the long summer vacation?

I have really enjoyed seeing your portraits over the last few months. I like the landscapes too but I really enjoy the atmosphere in the portraits. I look forward to seeing what this year brings!