For whatever reason, whenever the end of the year comes around, no matter how bad the year may have been, we wax nostalgic about it. Lists of 10 appear like magic...lists about the best, the worst and just about everything in between. I am suckered into reading them because I learned long ago they are never the same and are in fact as different as each person is different from the other. That is what makes the world interesting. Kinda like artists I guess.
While I have no 10 best of anything, I find that as I look back over the year there were many milestones along the way. In both my art and craft painting there were huge improvements in design and execution. A friend told me after giving her my Christmas present that they were looking at other gifts I had given them over the past few years and they were surprised at how much my work had improved, not that it was bad before, but better, more confident.
After going to the Las Vegas Painting Convention and taking a variety of wonderful and excellent classes I decided that maybe I too could teach. While that remains to be seen, those classes are next year, it was an attempt to stretch as an artist. I remember so well that even though I only taught elementary education classes in the Peace Corps, that in the process of teaching you quickly discover that you need a variety of methods to teach the same thing. I learned the basics of math and English, science and history like I never had before. I suspect teaching people to paint will be much the same. There are many ways to achieve the same end.
Then there was my crazy idea of painting crazy quilts on birdhouses, trays, note holders and a wine carrier. They were wild and crazy. Entering the first of three crazy quilt birdhouses and winning a DecoArt national contest was yet another surprise! A guy winning in a world of devoted women crafters? And at Christmas I was again surprised when that same birdhouse was sold on my Etsy.com store.
I have discovered a marked change in painting style as well. I was heading more and more into a kind of realism mode, one that may be fine for some but was the opposite of what I wanted. For realism I had my camera and in fact am toying with putting prints taken over the years for sale on my Etsy.com store to sell. What I wanted was a kind of Impressionism, but one of my own, a variation of what had come before. In an earlier blog, about how a painting can go so wrong, I saw first hand the struggle I have faced all year. The struggle between perfectionism and catching the spirit of the scene or objects. I admire those that can in a few quick strokes define their subject allowing the viewer to fill in the rest of the scene. Amazingly, we do. If you look at a Monet you realize while there are many colors, they create the depth and detail our minds fill in.
Then there was the store on Etsy. Months went by with no sales. I renewed and pinned and Tweeted it seemed to no effect. Then suddenly a sale would trickle in, then more until I had a decent Christmas! I certainly couldn't live on what I sold but in a way, it is a kind of affirmation that what you so lovingly, and there is no other word for it, created strikes a resonant chord with others. A friend came over to purchase some of the items she had seen online and was so surprised at what I had done. She couldn't believe these were mine yet we had known each other nearly 40 years.
Yes, it was an interesting year. I'm not done by any means and have plans for more paintings and craft items. Heavens, I better because unpainted items are all over the work area, shelves and workbench in the garage. That's why I look at this painting a day group and wonder, now WHAT would I do with 300 more paintings?
Wishing you all A Happy New Year!