Studio Check-in #2 — Changing Some Goals

The number 2020 feels significant, doesn’t it? Like it’s a much stronger boundary marker for time than say, 2018-19 — or maybe it’s just me, reading too much into it, as I tend to do sometimes. In any case, as I’ve probably already said (and bear with me, if I have), it feels like an auspicious number to me and I’ve used the marker as moment to reevaluate my art and my goals, and to do some planning and focusing. (Check out my previous post, “The Dream Life (aka ‘The Art Bucket List,'” if you want to see my ultimate, top-5-dreams-of-all-dreams goals for this whole endeavor. They feel a little far-fetched to me now, but if I don’t work toward them, I’ll never get any closer, right?)

All of this is to say that, rather than continuing to paint whatever I feel like, when I feel like it, regardless of subject matter, I’ve resolved to focus a little more on finding a niche for myself. My current net is still pretty widely cast, but I’m closing in on more rural/abandoned landscape themes, along with my floral pieces and botanical stuff. I don’t want to stop painting the other pieces, but I do want to build up more of a portfolio and a style to be “known for,” then re-expand once I’ve established myself.

That means a couple of the pieces I shared in my last check-in are on the back burner indefinitely, and I’m (trying to be) okay with that. (It’s definitely been a habit of mine in the past to leave things unfinished, and while I know it’s different to do so deliberately, it still feels irresponsible, or something.)

My Shedd’s Aquarium piece is one that’s going on hiatus, but I did work on it during my Art Weekend earlier this month, so I figured I’d share what it looks like now so you can see the progress:

Here’s the previous post if you’re curious to see what changed between then and now.

Well then, what have I started that aligns with my fancy new goal? First of all, I’m happy to say that I started and finished two bouquet line drawings (which are packaged together as a printable set of coloring pages in my Etsy shop). That might seem a little outside the realm of watercolor painting, but I would stubbornly argue that the subject matter fits my goals, and I have some watercolor-related ideas involving them which I’ll share later on. In the meantime, it means they won’t be featured here among the unfinished pieces, which is exciting in itself (for me, anyway).

I also started two new paintings this month which solidly fit into my newly defined niche. The first is this one, an 18″ x 24″ painting that’s bigger than most of what I’ve done to date:

It’s a little faint now, but eventually there will be the branches of a giant tree in the foreground.

Without giving away too much, the scene was captured just before sunset, which means it will hopefully be full of lovely, dramatic lighting by the time I’m done.

And finally, here’s another of my abandoned trucks which I sketched out months ago but only recently transferred to watercolor paper and started painting. This one’s on a sheet of 9″ x 12″ paper, and marks my first time painting on Arches paper (which is kind of a big deal in the nuanced world of art papers). Color definitely blends more easily on cotton paper than it does on the normal cellulose-based stuff — even when that’s not what you want it to do — which makes it easier to create smooth washes. The colors seem more vibrant as well, though that may also be me learning how to layer them better…

I mainly have a lot more layering and shading of the ground and the plants to do yet, so that the back end of the truck doesn’t look like it’s floating. The truck’s grill also needs some detail and color.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to this month. I maaaaaay have some exciting news coming within the next month or two about an in-person venue to sell my art (!), and I’ve already started thinking about what types of pieces might work well there. Fellow artists and creatives, do you keep your (potential) audience in mind when you create pieces, or do you create for yourself? I find that I do a little of both; part of me is like, “I’m doing this for me!” and part of me is like, “I’ll paint anything someone wants to pay me for!” Granted, so far no one has asked me to create anything that didn’t interest me or challenge me in some way, and I have since discovered some things that I won’t try to paint again. But that’s perhaps a topic for another post. Look for the next studio check-in, coming up in March, because I have even more paintings and drawings that I’m excited to try!

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