When I was younger, like most American children, I was taught to make my goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (S.M.A.R.T). Respectfully, that’s not gonna work this year. With something so close to my heart as art, the second I start to micromanage my relationship with it, I lose the magic that makes me do it in the first place. This quote seems related, though I can’t articulate how:
“Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” -E.B. White
If I quantify, enumerate, and schedule my passion to the letter, it becomes a chore. Art in general starts to feel like an uninteresting client project. The box gets ticked, but that’s literally it (as I cross this blog post off my to-do list).
That said, I have specific things I want to make and am using lists to keep myself aimed at what brings me joy. Enjoy my defiant, unquantified, mysterious, bold (D.U.M.B) goals for 2024.
2024 Art Goals:
1. Experiment with different mediums and make naive art.
2. Do a few realistic gouache paintings and incorporate my discoveries into my art.
3. Make some graphite pieces with lost and found forms.
4. Write a few children’s stories.
5. Make a couple decorative pieces just for fun, maybe depicting seasonal activities.
6. Design Corbin’s and my first family Christmas card.
Cautiously using materials.
Depicting things 100% based in reality.
Whimsy and magic.
Bright color palettes.
Old elements. Medieval times. Fairytales.
Sell work at art & farmer’s markets.
Open up my shop again.
Acquire an Epson Expression 12000XL Graphic Arts Scanner.
“Experiment with different mediums and make naive art.”
This is less of a goal than a necessity to keep myself sane and my art practice fresh.
“Do a few realistic gouache paintings and incorporate my discoveries into my art.”
The opposite of the previous goal. To “find my style,” I spend time at stylistic extremes. I fall somewhere between naive and realistic art, so if I turn the dial towards realism– or towards naivety– I can make visual discoveries and bring them back to my regular work (did any of that make sense?).
“Make some graphite pieces with lost and found forms.”
An excuse to make really indulgent art. I love erasing into fields of value, like an archeologist uncovering an artifact. I also want to get comfortable with subtractive methods and use them more regularly.
“Write a few children’s stories.”
Writing stories paralyzes me. No children’s book is perfect enough, and no plot is deep or truthful enough to even entertain (you can see the perfectionistic pickle in which I find myself). To counter this, I’m taking my own advice and writing a children’s book manuscript every week. It’s been magic. A load is lifted off my shoulders. Writing feels like playing. And the more I write, the more ideas I get (which go straight into my “Notes app” for later use). I don’t want to trivialize children’s book writing. To write a good children’s book is incredibly hard. However, as I write weekly, I’ve made manuscripts I’m proud of and want to pursue. From where I stand, it seems that trivializing doing hard things is the only way to do hard things.
“Make a couple decorative pieces just for fun, maybe depicting seasonal activities.”
Another indulgent project.
"Design Corbin’s and my first family Christmas card.”
Don’t work this up in your mind to be something monumental and as a result paralyze yourself creatively. Oops. Too late.
I don’t have much to say about my business goals. It’s incredibly hard to earn a stable living as a full-time artist, and I’m so grateful to have a husband who takes my passion seriously. He tells me everyday: “Audrey, don’t worry about it. You’re gonna be successful.”
As I formalize my desires in writing, I feel overwhelmingly privileged and thankful that I can be an illustrator for a living. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve thought about and worked for this since I can remember. Even though I’m early in my career, I’m incredibly satisfied with my work.
I made a lot of books growing up. I’d give them away on birthdays, Christmas, and just because. This is one of my more legible “author bios:”
If I had to update this bio, not much would change. I still love to ride horses and read. I love to make art. And I still want to grow my hair to my waist, visit Mexico, and eat Pop Tarts.
Thanks for reading!