Do you want a plan to take your art to the next level in 2020? I certainly do. Art is one of those wonderful pursuits where you’ll never run out of things to learn. The question is what to learn? And how?
New Year resolutions often seem to be a bit worthy. “Stop smoking. Lose weight. Get out of a job you don’t like.”  I prefer to focus on spending more time doing things that please me – after all, joyful time spent with paint and brushes translates into engaging paintings!
Here’s the conventional method for planning your development:

  1. Create a set of long term goals
  2. Break that down into annual, quarterly and monthly goals.
  3. Work out what activities will have to take place to achieve those goals.
  4. Create a weekly and then a daily activity plan to make it happen.
  5. Review weekly
  6. Repeat

That seems like an awful lot of work to me. And in my experience, any goal beyond a year is just guesswork. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create this sort of plan. However, the hardcore realist in me says that if it takes this much work, then so much energy will go into creating the plan that sooner or later it will make more sense to just get out your brushes and get painting.

So, here is my short and sweet alternative plan for developing my art over the coming year:

Developing and Focusing on Your art in 2020

1) Remove Redundant Tasks That Block Your art Time.

What other activities stop you from getting started on your art? Are they necessary or just procrastination? If they aren’t essential but are taking up time, just replace them with some painting time.

2) Plan Your Personal Development

Look at what workshops and courses are available over the next six months, and sign up for the ones that excite you. Don’t just think about it – make the booking. Once it is booked and in your calendar, it will happen. Many tutors publish their workshop programme at the beginning of the year, but additional events come up from time to time, so this is one activity that should be done regularly. 

3) Carry a Sketchbook Every day

Use it to capture images and ideas. Don’t be precious about it; your sketchbook doesn’t have to be a work of perfection. This is a visual record of the things that spark creative ideas, and a way to capture and build momentum around inspiration.

4) Make Your Creative Time a Priority

So you’ve made some time by removing unnecessary tasks from your schedule – that’s a great start! Now go even further, and actively schedule regular, dedicated time for your creative work.

5) Decide What Part Your art Plays in Your Life

This sounds very goals-oriented, but it does make sense to have at least thought about it. Do you want to earn an income from your art, or is it a hobby? The answer to this question may mean that some workshops are better for you than others, or that you need to spend more time on your art.

6) Plan Your Exhibition Visits for the Year

Knowing what you do and don’t like is an enormously important part of developing your artistic voice. Exhibition visits are not only enjoyable, but they are an opportunity to seek inspiration and refine your artistic taste. Look at what’s coming up in the major galleries in your area, and schedule some visits.

7) Develop a Group of Artist Friends

Painting is typically a solitary activity, and it’s easy to feel quite isolated. Having artist friends is a great way to stay motivated when times are tough, or when it feels like the creative spark is flickering. Other artists can provide advice, feedback, support, or just good company for exhibition visits.

Growth Comes From Action

It is important to have a plan for your artistic development, but growth comes from action. What’s your number one tip for taking your art to the next level? Let me know in a comment below, and I’ll share your advice on my Facebook page.

Do you know someone who’s planning their artistic journey for the new year? Why not share this post to inspire them? I’d be grateful, and they may find it useful (even just as a prompt!) And as this is my last blog post for the year, I wish you joyful painting and thank you for your friendship and support.