Monday, December 28, 2015

An Incremental Approach to Good Art Habits

'River's Edge'          9x12       pastel      ©Karen Margulis
available $150
 It is time to brainstorm. Yesterday I wrote about my non-plan for the New Year. I am calling it the Year of Art and it is all about cultivating good habits so that I can create and share without pressure or stress. What makes it different from the usual way I try to start a new year is that this year I will add my habits one month at a time. Richard McKinley tells us to approach a painting incrementally so why not gradually introduce new habits rather than getting burnt out by trying to do too much at one time.

So today I took out a notebook and started brainstorming. What did I want to accomplish in 2016? What art habits did I want to have? Do I have any bad habits that I would like to change? I wrote down all of my thoughts and ideas and wishes. I ended up with a lot of things I wanted to do but the list quickly became overwhelming.....defeating the purpose!

I decided to whittle the list down to just 6 habits to work on in 2016....one each month with hopes that they become a part of my daily routine. Here is my list of 6 habits:





  1. Work on becoming fluent with oils. I will be expanding on this but I am devoting the month of January to doing a daily oil painting as part of Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge. I have been wanting to play more with oils. It is important not only to challenge myself but to make me a better pastellist. I am excited to get started.
  2. Make sketching a habit. I don't know how many times I've started keeping a sketchbook only to  stop within days! I know that being able to draw is important to becoming the best artist possible so I want to make sketching a habit!
  3. Make time to MOVE, be more active and eat better. All of these things are important and I could do a better job with all of them.
  4. Be more organized with paperwork. I hate paperwork. Every year I plan to do a better job with my record keeping and organizing of paperwork. Will I succeed this year? 
  5. Make time for more plein air painting. This is something I love to do but only seem to make time for it when I travel. I would love to have a better plein air habit at home.
  6. Become more familiar with watercolor so that I can do more interesting underpaintings.


step 3 of today's painting
Your turn!  Take out paper and pen and start brainstorming. What good art habits do you wish to cultivate in 2016? Feel free to share in the comment section!
4x4  study

8 comments:

Sande said...

Can you comment more some time on how you see oil painting making you a better pastelist? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
As for me, I most need to be more disciplined in spending time doing artwork and marketing.

Karen said...

Thanks for commenting Sande. I will expand on the idea of being fluent in more than one medium. Stay tuned!

Sue Corcoran said...

A good article Karen. As for me, I need to do all those things too . . . but mainly to stop procrastinating and get on with it!!!

Marsha Savage said...

Karen, very good habits you have chosen to work on... and they pretty much coincide with mine. I love it! So.... let's try to do more plein air. I have had several people in the past few months ask about who they can go painting with. Let's do it!

Cate Kauffman said...

I too am entering into a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Because my goal is to paint more often and develop consistency in my work. Goal 2 is to work in series... For example do a series of fruit, or a series of portraits, or landscapes and not leap from one genre to the next. Goal 3 is to work consistently on my commissions even when I run into challenges. Goal 4 is to get outside daily and walk rain or shine and get my body back in shape. Goal 5 I think will come out of goals 1 & 2 and that is to do more plein aire work this year. My retirement comes up in April so I'm hoping to have some discipline in my painting before then.

Nancy Fusco said...

I need to paint more, life, errands, cleaning, anything seems to get more attention than sitting down and painting. I signed up for the thirty in 30 challenge too, I'm excited about giving it a go! Thanks Karen for being so encouraging, it's what I love most about your blog!

C. Woodard said...

This article hit home. I have many books, dvd's, and lots of pastels. Sometimes its overwhelming and difficult to know where to start the learning process. Karen, your blog is so encouraging and helps me 'get on with it'. I'm a novice pastel artist and your demos on Etsy are great. In 2016, I'll try to focus on one new skill per month. Also, I work from home. Leaving art to end of day hasn't worked as I'm too tired. So starting in Jan, I'm going to paint in morning and work in afternoon. Thank you for sharing!

tres said...

Luv this painting. Is it me, or do oil paintings seem to have more depth? I feel myself being drawn more to oils lately. But, I haven't mastered pastels yet, could just be out of frustration?? Lol. Dazed and confused as usual! :)