Connecting The Dots Through Art

2017 Year End Review

Viewmaster, 2012 Toned Cyanotype Print

So at the beginning of the year, I set out goals that I wanted to complete by year end. How did I do?

1. Finish Part III of A Million Suns by December 31 

2. Double my Newsletter Subscribers by December 312017 

3. Exhibit in 3 Group Shows

Finish Part III of A Million Suns by December 31 

I failed goal #1. I got lost halfway into the year. I know where the work is supposed to go, but I lost the willpower around August. Setting goals and fulfilling them is hard! It’s even harder when you have a day job. Since my income doesn’t depend on art, it’s so easy to push it back and say, “I could do it later.” That’s what I did. On the positive side, I created many candidate images in the first half of the year I could use. However, it wasn’t enough to finish the work.

Double my Subscriber List

I also failed with this goal. I only increased my subscriber list by 56%. That sounds like a lot, but I’m starting from a very low number. Midway through the year, I felt that I found my groove in terms of blogging topics. I was going to talk about how art principles and the artist mindset can be applied to a day job. Thinking like an artist at work can pay dividends in terms of job satisfaction and performance. I still believe this, but writing about this topic didn’t help with audience building. I will explore other topics next year.

Exhibit in 3 Group Shows

This goal I did meet! I exhibited at the Altered Realities Show at Maryland Art Place this past fall, the In Transit Exhibition at VETS Gallery in Rhode Island, and at the 8th National Art Program Exhibition at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. To my delight, I won first prize in the third exhibition! It’s important to exhibit and continue to find an audience for my work.

Johns Hopkins ExhibitionSleep Wins 1st Prize

So 1 goal out of 3. I need to think about how I’m going to improve next year.

Reasons Why I Did Not Accomplish My Goals

I didn’t accomplish my goals this year because of three main reasons:

Doubt

Doubt began to creep into my mind. What was the point of what I’m doing? Shouldn’t I do something useful to make the world a better place?

I know the rote answer to this question — that by doing my art, I am making the world a better place in my own small way, and that at least, I’m not adding more problems that someone else has to solve. But this type of thinking wasn’t enough. Doubt began to eat through my confidence and I just stopped creating new work.

Shame

Who am I to think that what I’m doing has value? You should be ashamed of yourself. You will never be good enough. So why even try? This was the self-​talk that was going in my head towards the end. This is so hard to get rid of once it starts. I need to find a way to deal with this next year.

Burn Out

I also burned out halfway. I didn’t want to do anything, not in social media, pick up a camera, or continue blogging. So coupled with doubt and shame, I didn’t have the willpower to continue.

What Is The Solution?

It is interesting that with my day job, none of these feelings matter. I continue to show up regardless of how I feel. It’s a state that Steven Pressfield refers to as being “professional.” You show up no matter what.

I know that with art-​making this is the answer too: Just show up. Continue the work. It doesn’t matter if there is doubt and shame. Just continue.

I’ll re-​commit to finish A Million Suns next year (again!). I’m almost there. I want to finish so I can move on to another project.

What about you? Did you meet your goals? What worked or did not work for you?