Friday, November 30, 2018

It has been a great month sharing Art Quilters with you.  I am sure that you found our techniques and processes interesting.  

If you would like to know more about the featured quilters from this month here is how:

Linda Bratten:

Gwyned Trefethen:

Susanne M. Jones:

Sue Bleiweiss:

 If you are interested in SAQA, Studio Art Quilts Associates you can check out their websites for more information at:

 It has been an honor to share with you my love of art quilts and some of my work and techniques

Please keep up with my quilting and sewing adventures by signing up for my Free Newletter, Linda B Creative

May you always find joy in your art,

Linda Bratten

Sunday, November 25, 2018

5 qualities of successful artists

Sue Bleiweiss

I’ve seen a lot of blogs posts about artists and inspiration – where they find it and how they used it to create their art but I haven’t seen a lot written about what’s under the surface of the creative process.  I think that there are also 5 qualities that an artist needs in order to transform inspiration into art…

1: Passion

If you don’t have a high level of passion for what you’re doing then you’ll never be able to generate
the commitment necessary to make your ideas take form. Being successful at something (whatever your definition of success is) takes practice and in order to make good art you have to make a lot of it. Why? Because experience is the best teacher. Experience allows you to fully understand and master the techniques, tools and materials that you use. If you’re not excited about the materials, ideas or techniques that you’re using or the direction that you’re headed in then it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.

2: Commitment

In order to take your ideas and inspiration from conception to form you must commit to trusting yourself and the process.

Over the years I have made a lot of quilts and a fair amount of them have wound up in the trash bin but I have remained committed to the techniques, materials and processes that I’ve chosen to use and I’ve pushed myself to master them. That’s not to say that I haven’t changed things along the way and adapted to new ways of doing things but if I had given up after the first few failures my artistic journey to this point would have probably looked a lot different. If you want to get good at something you have to take it seriously and stick with it. If this is something that you struggle with you might find it helpful to reach out to a mentor, coach or a fellow artist and form a group that will help hold you accountable to your studio practice.

3: Focus

If you want to build a successful studio practice as well as develop artistically then you have to stay focused. That means you have to learn how to learn how to say no. If your calendar is filled with appointments and commitments that keep you from being in the studio then it won’t matter how
committed you are to an idea because you won’t have time to work on it. My studio is in my house and I know how easy it is to get distracted by dirty dishes, laundry and vacuuming. But here’s the thing: I know that my most productive creative time is morning and early afternoon and you know what? The world does not stop turning because the breakfast dishes stay in the sink until after lunch and there’s nothing wrong ignoring the laundry until after dinner so I don’t let either distract me from getting into the studio.

You have to make studio time a priority! For some that may mean only getting 15 – 30 minutes in the studio at a time. If that’s the case then you have to commit to making those short bursts of time as productive as you can. If you have only 30 minutes in the studio then before you step in declare your intention for that time – I will spend 30 minutes working on sketching some new ideas, quilting the piece I have on the worktable, auditioning fabrics for my new quilt etc. Decide how you will spend those 30 minutes and then don’t let anything distract you from doing it.

4: Patience

Making art is a process and it takes time. You can’t rush it! I know what it’s like when you are feeling so inspired and excited about something you are working on that you find yourself not paying much attention to what you’re working on because you are already thinking about the next piece. The process of turning inspiration into art is not about working fast, it’s about working at it day after day. It’s an ongoing dialogue, a give and take dance where you don’t always get to lead. You have to be willing to nurture it and give it the time it needs to reveal itself and take form. Rushing to finish will show in the final piece in the form of an incomplete design, sloppy technique and an overall unsatisfying result.

5: Trust

This is probably the most difficult for a lot of artists to master because that nasty inner critic is always nipping at the heels of trust. When the inner critic is combined with self doubt it can create a
paralyzing cocktail for an artist and you might hear it say things like:

  • This is terrible and I have no business calling it art
  • I didn't go to art school so how can I call myself an artist
  • I'll never make anything as good as ...
  • All I managed to create here is a mess
One of the most useless black holes in the art making process is to compare yourself or spend time evaluating your work and what you do in relation to someone else. It’s a lesson in futility and will yield nothing useful for you. Time spent on worrying and fretting about what someone else is doing is time you’re taking away from your own studio practice and artistic development.

You have to learn to rise above the noise of the inner critic and your own self doubt. I know that is easier said than done but you have push through it and learn to tame or at least quiet that noise. Force yourself to dig deep into your well of passion, commitment, focus and patience and let those qualities carry you over the noise of the inner critic. The next time your self critic starts whispering in your ear respond by saying to it:

“I hear you but I am not listening. I am busy working and I am going to see this through, we’ll talk when this piece is finished”

Sure I know it sounds a bit simplistic but it might help to acknowledge the voice and give yourself permission to dismiss it so that you can redirect your focus on doing the work instead of how you are feeling about it. Unfortunately there is no quick and easy fix but the more art you make the more you allow yourself to develop self confidence and that is the antidote to the self critic and self doubt noise.

Being an artist is a journey, not a destination

I've enjoyed being your host on the 52Quilters blog for the past week!  Going forward you can keep up with me by subscribing to my blog or newsletter.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dealing with the inner critic

Sue Bleiweiss

The inner critic is something that plagues everyone whether they are an artist or not. For proof of that
take a look at the self help section at the bookstore – it’s filled with books on the subject. All artists experience it and if you allow it to, it can wreak havoc with your studio practice, artistic self esteem and keep you from achieving your goals.

As someone who has struggled all their life with self esteem and body image issues I know how paralyzing the voice of the self critic can be. And when I switched careers and became an artist I added more fuel for my self critic to feed on:
  • How can I call myself an artist when my degree is in culinary and I trained to be a chef?
  • I have no formal art training so how do I even know what I am making is any good?
  • I have never even taken a quilting class why would anyone pay me to write about quilting?!
  • I don’t know what the heck I am doing, I never went to art school and way more than half the time I am just winging it.
  • I will never be able to make art that looks like or that is good as (fill in the blank here)
  • How can I justify being in the studio all day, I should be back out climbing the corporate ladder.
and on and on and on…

Now if I had given in and let those voices keep me from staying on my artistic path it’s probably safe to say that you wouldn’t be reading this right now because I would be sitting in an office in some corporate building somewhere right now. But I managed to rise above those voices and well, here we are. Now I am no psychologist.  I am definitely not an expert in this field but I do have the benefit of experience and one of the things that I have learned over the years is that there is no cure (at least I haven’t found it) for the self critic to silence it for good. But the good news is that I have found a few antidotes for it that have worked pretty well to allow me to rise above the noise of my self critic it and maybe they’ll help you too.

1: I counter the argument
SC: I have no formal art training so how do I even know what I am making is any good?

You: Well big deal, there are a lot of successful artists out there who were self taught. Frida Kahlo, van Gogh, Gauguin, Homer just to name a few and if you do a google search on successful self taught artists you’ll find a whole lot more. I know what I make is good because I like it, I think it’s good and I feel good about it.

SC: I don’t know what the heck I am doing and more than half the time I am just winging it.

You: There is nothing wrong with winging it – it’s a great way to learn! Experimenting and trying new things are a critical part of the artistic development process and all artists do it. Nobody becomes an expert at something without experimenting first.

SC: You will never be able to make art that looks like or that is good as (fill in the blank)

You: Making art that looks like someone else isn’t my definition of success and I won’t waste my time on it. It’s a black hole, a lesson in futility and all it does is take time away from my own studio practice and artistic development. I am going to focus instead on developing my own artistic style with lots of practice and experimentation and see where it leads me.

SC: How can I justify being in the studio all day, I should be back out climbing the corporate ladder.

You: The reason that I am in the studio all day is because this is what I do. It’s who I am – I am an artist, I am good at it and this is what I need to be doing.

Another way to counter the argument is to approach it as if you were talking to a friend who was asking for help with their self critic. What would you say to them? What advice would you give them?

2: I don’t let it stop me

There have been plenty of times over the years when I could have let the SC voice stop me from doing something. Two examples come to mind:

The day I got my first rejection letter from Quilting Arts. Oh let me tell you, my self critic did a big happy dance on my self esteem that day and by the time I got to the end of the letter it had me convinced that I would never have any success as an artist. I could have given into it but I shook it off because I knew it was illogical to think that mine was the only submission that they got and rejected. So I decided to try again, and again and I think it was either the 3rd or 4th try that I got accepted. And since then I have written a lot for that magazine and others so take that SC voice!

The other example is the inner war I had with my self critic when I decided to submit my work for the first time to the International Quilt Festival. I had been a couple of times and thought there is absolutely no way that my work is good enough to hang there among all of those famous quilters. It’s a pipe dream I told myself, so I let the deadlines pass without entering. The next year I told the SC voice that I had nothing to lose by entering other than the entry fee and I submitted for the first time. Two pieces were accepted and I won an honorable mention ribbon in the art whimsical category.

Don't give your self critic the power to stop you from trying, and trying again!

3: I ask for help

I am incredibly fortunate to have a circle of good friends that I can reach out to at anytime for support and guidance for those moments when my self critic voice is so loud it overwhelms me. Yes, believe
it or not I still do have those moments! I think being a part of an artist group that is made up of friends that you can have absolute trust in is so important. Even the most self assured of us have moments and setbacks where we need to lean on someone or we need a boost up. If you don’t already have a group start one – reach out to a couple of friends and set up a private facebook group, meet regularly in person if you’re all local or if not, take advantage of technology and meet electronically via FaceTime, Skype or some other video conferencing platform.

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!

Friday, November 23, 2018

7 stages of art

Sue Bleiweiss

 Priscilla Long wrote a great book that should be on your reading list calls “Minding the Muse” It’s a small book, just 112 pages but it’s a really good read and it’s one that I go back to every so often.  In one of the chapters she says “the artists work might be divided into three stages: the making stage, the critiquing and refining stage, and the purveying stage”.  I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve come to my own conclusion.  It seems to me that there are actually 7 stages of art that the artist has to work through…

Stage 1 – Inspiration & Brainstorming

This is the stage where the artist imagines the possibilities, refines the idea, sketches and lays all the ground work for the artwork they will make.

Stage 2 – Making

This is where the construction of the artwork begins.  This is an exciting stage!  The idea is fresh and the artist feels invigorated and motivation to keep working is very high.

Stage 3 – Doubt

Somewhere along the making of the artwork the artist may start to feel some doubt creeping into the art making process..  It may be hard for the artist to reconcile what the piece looks like at this stage to what the intention of the finished piece will be.  So doubt creeps in and the artist may start to question whether or not to continue on the piece.  One of two things usually happens at this point: either the artist trusts the integrity of the original vision and their skills and pushes through to the next stage or they abandon the artwork to the unfinished or WIP (work in progress pile) where it promptly gets forgotten about.

Stage 4 – Evaluate

Once past stage three the artist may step back from the work to assess what’s working and what’s not.  What changes or refinements need to be made, which techniques and materials need to be introduced in order to continue to move the work forward.  This can be a tough stage to get through and some artists may need to walk away from the work for a period of time in order to be able to look at it objectively with fresh eyes.  They may feel the need to reach out to a peer group for feedback.

Stage 5 – Refinement

At this stage the artist makes changes based on the results of stage four.   They may experiment with different approaches, techniques and materials to determine which will give them the results that they need to bring the artwork to completion.

Stage 6 – Completion

Finally the the piece is just about complete.  All the major work has been done, the finishing touches are applied and the work is declared finished.  Now at this point the artist either as a piece of work that they are happy with, that looks the way they envisioned way back in step one or may have even grown beyond that initial vision but they are still pleased with or they have a piece of work that falls short of that vision.  Regardless of which situation the artist has, the next stage is a critical one.

Stage 7 – Critique

I think this last stage is probably one of the most important and it’s one that no artist should skip over.  If you want to grow, develop and evolve then you have to do two things: you have to push past stage 3 and you can’t skip stage 7.  If you never get past stage three then you can’t get to stage 7!  You must finish pieces in order to learn from them.  Without completion there can be no final critique or evaluation and you are setting yourself up for the same results with your next piece.  This final critique stage is where you step back and evaluate what worked, what didn’t and what you would do differently on the next piece.  The answers to these questions can be used to inform the approach, materials and techniques that you use in your next piece before you begin it.   It’s a critical stage – don’t skip it!  My friend Lyric Kinard has written a terrific pocket guide to help the artist critique their own work and I highly recommend it.

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Working in a series

Sue Bleiweiss

I’ve been working on building the body of work  that’s become my recognizable style for 7 years.  I’ve lost count of how many pieces I’ve made but they’re all tied together by the use of the same subject and color palette.  My body of work represents an education. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and I’ve gained a mastery over the materials and techniques that I’ve used to create them.  I’ve discovered that there is no downside to working in a series but the rewards are plenty.

Focus & create momentum

A series is a great way to find and keep your focus.  It also helps you avoid those painful “what do I
do next” slumps that we all fall into at some point.  It’s like having a built in answer to the what’s next question.  I have a sketchbook filled with pages of ideas for quilts so whenever I am not sure what to do next I just flip through the pages and I’m inspired  and ready to start my next piece.

Master your techniques & build a body of work

If you rely on serendipity for your results and find yourself more often disappointed in them, it’s because you haven’t spent enough time fully exploring the techniques and materials that you’re using.  Serendipity is great and when it works it can produce some exciting results but it’s unreliable.  The result of jumping from one technique to another or dabbling with lots of different ones without any real focus is that you end up with a pile of unrelated artwork that looks like it was created by a lot of different people.  It also means that you don’t have a visual representation of your work that you can use to promote yourself with if you’re interested in teaching or lecturing.  It may also make it difficult to write an artist statement that makes it easy for the viewer to connect with your work.

The only way to master the techniques and materials your use in order to achieve consistent reliable results is to explore them fully and there’s no better way to do this than by working in a series. With each piece that you create in series you gain more experience about how to manipulate the materials and techniques you’re using to get the results that you want and you’ll find that you’re relying on serendipity less and less.

Get serious

One of the comments I hear most often about my work is that I have such a recognizable style. When you look at the work that you see on my website you’ll find that my style is pretty distinctive but interestingly enough I’ve only been working in this style since 2011!  I made a lot of work between 2002 and 2010 but I was dabbling and playing with lots of different techniques. Although none of the work that I did over those years is memorable or even relevant to the work I’m doing now it was time well spent because I learned which techniques, styles and materials that I like working with as well as the ones that I don’t.  But once I made the commitment to focus and get serious about my work and I started my tutti frutti series the pieces fell into place and my visual voice became loud and clear.

How to begin

The first step is to pick a theme to work with. But how do you decide on one?  I talked about choosing a theme in my last post.  There’s no right or wrong way to pick a theme but the most important thing when picking one is to choose one that speaks to you. If it’s not a theme that you feel passionate or excited by then it will be a struggle to work with and you won’t enjoy the process.

Ideas for a theme can come from anywhere and once you pick one spend some time exploring it on paper first with a mind map or a list to narrow it down.  Write your theme on a piece of paper and then make a list of all the different ways to explore that theme under it or use  Mindmeister.
Use whatever method works best for you but don’t skip this step! You might be so excited about your theme that you’re tempted to just jump in and start creating but I speak from experience when I say exploring it on paper first will save you a lot of wasted time, effort and materials.  It will give you a chance to make sure that you’re connected with the theme you’ve chosen.

Give yourself some parameters to work within.  You might find it helpful to give yourself a few parameters to work within so that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by too many possibilities.

Here are a few parameter ideas:
Size limits:  can be helpful if you want to be able to produce several pieces work in a shorter period of time. It will take you less time to create 12” x 12” pieces of work than it will if you are working with really large pieces.

Color palettes:  brights, darks, monochromatic, warm, cool, complimentary, prints, batiks, many colors or few,  etc…  There are a lot of options for setting color parameters to work within.

Techniques: will you use several techniques or just one or two? Will you dye your own fabric and use fusing as your construction method? will you paint your fabric, screen print and stamp it, will you create a whole cloth quilt or will you piece it?

Create, evaluate, create, repeat – in other words: Do the Work!

When you finish a piece take time to evaluate it before starting the next. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t and use the answers to inform your next piece and keep repeating this process with each piece you make. Before you know it you’ll be well on your way to building a body of work and developing your own personal style.

Before you start the next piece in your series ask yourself: What if…

I changed the size
the technique

combined the technique with another one

change the focal point

added another shape
changed the balance

moved this element over here
added some texture
took out some texture

changed the material used

changed the value

added contrast

changed the scale

Use the answers to these questions to inform your next piece and keep repeating the process.

If you want to develop a cohesive body of work, develop your visual voice and style then you have to make quilts – and you have to make a lot of them and working in a series is a way to start that process.  Not all will be works of art and that’s good because you’ll learn more from the ones that you don’t like and the ones that just don’t work than you will from the ones that do.  Just don’t skip the evaluation step because it gives you an opportunity to consider what you’ve done and what changes you’d like to make in your next piece before you start it.   Consider keeping a notebook to record your evaluations about each piece you make so you can refer back to it.  Use the answers to inform your next piece and just keep repeating this create/evaluate/create process and before you know it, you’ll be well on you way to developing a body of work and your visual voice!

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Artist Block

Sue Bleiweiss

Has this ever happened to you:  you walk into your studio, turn on the light, look around and are struck with an overwhelming feeling of never going to have another creative idea again.  Well you’re not the only one!  It happens to every artist at some point for one reason or another.  There are a lot of reasons this happens from lack of inspiration, fear, burnout and yes even having too many ideas which can be just as stifling as not having any.   The trick in this situation is to identify what is holding you back so you can deal with it and move past it.

Lack of inspiration

I have found that when I am just flat out stuck for an idea of what my next quilt should be it can be very helpful to find a theme to work with.  Once I focus in on a theme then rest of the creative process begins to flow and I am off and running.  But how do you find a theme to work with especially when you are not feeling particularly inspired?

Ideas for a theme can come from anywhere.  Look out the window: do you see trees, birds, bugs, flowers, a vegetable garden, leaves, animals or a snowy landscape?  What colors and textures do you see?  Do you see surfaces changed by their exposure to the elements leaving rust, decay and layers of exposed paint?  Do you collect of teapots, figurines, stamps, vintage textiles or something else?  Is there a shape that you’re drawn too - a circle, square, triangle?  Use the exploration of a shape as a theme.  Maybe you are attracted to a more abstract theme - childhood memories, motherhood, sisterhood or a social injustice or triumph.  Is there something happening in current events that you feel you want to make a statement about with your art? 

What about a technique?  My series of house and building quilts began with my desire to be able to dye fabric with consistent results and to be able to reproduce them without relying on serendipity.  You could explore texture, real or implied, created with fabric or stitch, found objects, mixed media etc…

If none of those spark an idea cut out some phrases from old magazines or newspapers.  Toss them in a bag and pull one out randomly.  Paste it in your sketchbook and make a list of ideas from that phrase.
There’s no right or wrong way to pick a theme but the most important thing when picking one is to choose one that speaks to you.  If it’s not a theme that you feel passionate or excited by then it will be a struggle to work with and life is too short to work with a theme that doesn’t resonate with you.

If your theme is too broad it can be overwhelming so explore it on paper first with a mind map or a list.  Write your theme on a piece of paper and then make a list of all the different ways to explore that theme under it.  You might find it helpful to give yourself a few parameters to work within so that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by too many possibilities.   Size limits can be helpful if you want to be able to produce several pieces work in a shorter period of time.  It will take you less time to create 12” x 12” pieces of work than it will if you are working with really large pieces.

You could also set some parameters for your color palette - will you work with brights, pastels, muted tones, gray tones, batiks, prints.  Will you work with many colors or will you restrict yourself to just a few?

Will you use several techniques or just one or two?  Will you dye your own fabric and use fusing as your construction method?  will you paint your fabric, screen print and stamp it, will you create a whole cloth quilt or will you piece it?

If you decide not to set any parameters that’s just fine - remember there are no rules other than the ones you set for yourself BUT I absolutely recommend you explore the theme in your sketchbook first.  You might make a series of sketches or you may simply make pages of notes.  Work however is comfortable for you but don’t avoid this step.  It will save you a lot of wasted time and effort later and it gives you the opportunity to make sure that you’re connected with the theme you’ve chosen before committing to it.

Too much inspiration

How can too many ideas be a problem?  Doesn’t that just make it easier to know what to work on next?  In theory too many ideas sounds like a gift but the flip side of that is that having too many ideas can becoming overwhelming and suddenly you find yourself frozen and unsure of what you
should work on next.  This is one of those moments that your sketchbook can help you  manage.   Make a list of the ideas you have, group them into categories, and if they need further exploration then mind map them.  Spend some time prioritizing them in the order that you find them most exciting to work with and then begin to work your way through them. 

Failure & rejection

Failure is part of the process and you can’t avoid it.  You submit a piece of your work to an exhibit and it doesn’t get in.  You spend weeks working on a piece of art and you don’t like it. You submit an idea for an article to a magazine and they reject it, your book proposal gets returned and so on and so on…

Fear of rejection and failure is one of the toughest challenges for an artist to overcome and the bad news is that rejection and failure are part of the artistic process that every artist will have to deal with at some point.  The good news is that you can learn a lot from both of them and turn them into positives that will help you grow as an artist but only if you don’t allow them to stop you from moving forward. Rejection and failure is not an endpoint – it’s a midpoint along the journey.  Think of them as a bridge you have to cross to get to where you want to go and each bridge you cross makes you smarter and gives you an opportunity to learn and grow.  Don’t let fear of rejection or failure define you and keep you from being in the studio.  Accept the fact that both are an inevitable part of the process and use them as a stepping stone instead of a roadblock on your journey.

Not enough no’s
You have to be careful not to overcommit yourself.  You can’t get into a creative flow if you’re only allowing yourself quick short bursts of time in the studio.  I know that not everyone has the luxury of being able to be in the studio all day every day but if all your getting for studio time is 15 minutes here and there then it may be time to take a look at and prioritize what other projects your involved with.  Be picky about the projects you say yes to.  Don’t get caught into the trap of thinking that if you don’t say yes to whatever the current opportunity is that there will never be another one if you decline.

Too many no’s
Isolating yourself in the studio without a break can be just as much of a problem as not getting enough studio time.  Suddenly you find yourself at a loss for what to work on or what direction to go in because you’re feeling isolated and uninspired.  When this happens you need to get outside of the studio and refill the creative well.  Meet up with friends, go to a museum or art exhibit, browse the library or bookstore, grab your camera and go on a walk around the neighborhood or for a hike.  Take a class in another medium - this is one of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling like I need a break from the studio.  I’ve taken workshops in glass blowing, pottery, jewelry making and bead making.  I wasn’t very good at any of them but the point of taking the classes was not to find a new artistic direction, it was just to stimulate my creative muse and have some fun.

At some point you may find yourself in a situation when you are just feeling a lack of motivation to work on anything.  You’ve had your nose to the grindstone for so long, been churning out one piece of art after another and suddenly you just don’t feel like making anything.  You go into the studio but all you can muster the energy to do is sit and stare at the pile of materials.  The desire to actually do anything with them just isn’t there. Or maybe you’ve just finished a piece of work that is so fantastic that you think you’ll never make another piece of work that’s anywhere near as good.  It happens and you need to give yourself a break.  Take some time off, catch up on your reading, visit the library and take out some books on an artist that you want to learn more about, clean up the studio, spend some time outside gardening or pursuing some other hobby.  Break out the crayons, watercolors or markers and play in your sketchbook. 

The important thing is not to panic! Trust me when I say that it will pass and your motivation will return. Don’t try to force it, let it run it’s course. It may take a few days or it may take a few weeks but it will pass.

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Art of Setting Goals

Sue Bleiweiss

I am a firm believer that goal setting plays a critical role in an artists studio practice. A clearly defined set of goals can help you stay focused, provide direction, keep you motivated and make the decision of whether or not to take on new projects easier.  While writing down your goals is an important first step you’ll increase your odds of actually achieving that goal if you take it two steps further by prioritizing it and creating a roadmap for it.  I approach goal setting as a four step system:

1: Write them down

Start with writing down a list of all the goals you’d like to accomplish. Don’t worry about how reasonable they are, how you’re going to achieve them or how they fit with the other goals on your list. Just get a list down on paper. Take your time with this, you don’t have to get it all done in one sitting. Keep the list handy and add to it over the course of a few days.  Once you have a list break it down into categories if appropriate. For instance your categories might include: art, publishing, marketing, social media etc.

2: Prioritize

Break your goals down into short and long term goals within each category. Short term goals are the ones that you want to work on over the next year and anything beyond that is a long term goal.  Starting with the short term goals put them in order of priority. Which ones are the most important to you and are the ones that you want to achieve first?

Now create a new short term goal list from your prioritized list and list them order of priority. This is your new working goal list.  Do this for your long term goal list too.

3: Create a roadmap

This is probably the most important step and the one that is the most critical for success. In order to achieve a goal you have to know what steps you need to take and in what order to do them. For each of the goals on your prioritized list write out the set of steps you will need to take in the order you need to do them to achieve the goal.  For instance, let’s say that one of your goals is “get published in a magazine” or “build a website”?  These are great goals but what steps do you need to take to make them happen?   Write those steps down in the order they need to be done.

4: Evaluate, assess and adjust

The best laid plans and systems can fail you if you aren’t continually monitoring them to make sure they are helping you to stick with your plans and work towards your goals.  If you find that you are not being as productive as you think you should be or you find that you are continually pushing your goals further and further out then it’s time to step back and assess what is going on.  You may have to adjust the way you’re working, change the systems you have in place, let go of a project or re-evaluate and reprioritize your lists.   Don’t be afraid to try out new approaches when it comes to managing your time.  What works for one artist doesn’t necessarily work for another and you have to find what works for you. You may find that depending on what your home life schedule is (kids, school vacations, family events etc.) may make it necessary for you use one system for part of the year and another for the rest.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like nothing is working and you just can’t get on top of it all then reach out for help from a fellow artist or mentor.  Sometimes a fresh perspective or just talking it through someone can help you come up with solutions that you couldn’t find on your own.

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!