As we embark on a new year and a new decade, let’s pause and ask ourselves how to make this year the most meaningful and productive year as artists.
2020 has a play on words about good vision. As artists, we are the keepers and makers of vision. We look more in-depth and hone our craft so that others might see too.
The new year brings the opportunity to set intentions and goals and release or change the things that do not serve your higher purpose. As we move towards the new, it is essential to acknowledge and hold on to the essence of who we are and what we do.
Johanna Schwaiger, program director at New Masters Academy, shared her insight as she gets to work with some of the best artists in the world. “We enjoy discourse on art and get to ask the artists personal questions about their philosophy and their working methods. Their ideas on art are diverse, but there is one thing all successful artists seem to have in common: they all share a clear vision and they consistently strive to bring that vision to their work. Steve Huston once said to me: ‘You have to enjoy the process and have a clear vision of what you want to do’.”
To develop a ‘vision,’ we first need to be able to take a good and thorough look at ourselves and ask questions. This soul search can be extremely uncomfortable. We probably find out that our vision is not apparent or is confusing. Why am I doing this? What do I want from it? Am I on the right path? Will I ever achieve that greatness that I dream of?
As hard as this introspection can be, it is gratifying as clarity and new motivation kicks in.
For those that have toyed with that thought, striving to clean up fussy intentions and habits that are not useful, now is the perfect time to get to it.
Artists need these times of contemplation and creativity doesn’t always hit us the same way. There are times of excitement and times we feel stuck, but wherever you see yourself, your vision needs to be clear.
According to the Numerologist Simone M. Matthews: “2020 is all about devotion. The work it takes to live your values through every aspect of your life mindfully. The dedication, commitment, responsibility, and enacting of a life’s plan that engages you in the manifestation of your goals. It is a year of stepping up and leaping in, rising to the occasion of courageously putting one foot in front of the other in the direction of your heart. There is no hiding this year. This call to action is for everyone.”
The theme for 2020 is to build a solid foundation and to stabilize that framework; a little more inner work may be necessary to ensure the footings your artwork needs for decades to come. The work calls you, there is much to be done. 2020 is the year of exceptional change in the structures, values, and natures of our modern world, and every one of us plays an essential role in bridging this shift into a universal reality for humanity.
The essence of what it means to be an artist is to bring beauty and truth into the world, immediate and global. Beauty is about balance, and the world, and each of us, seems to be craving beauty, balance, and truth.
“Beauty, the splendor of truth, is a gracious presence when the imagination contemplates intensely the truth of its own being or the visible world, and the spirit which proceeds out of truth and beauty is the holy spirit of joy. These are realities and
these alone giveand sustain life.”
How do you find your beauty and your truth? This is where the soul search starts and is probably the hardest step because it is about who you are and your core desires. To find useful answers, you need to be able to step out of yourself and look from a different perspective, kind of like if you met yourself for the first time.
A visualization exercise may help to make this process easier and to get clarity of what it is you want:
Get comfortable on a chair, and close your eyes. Try to think of nothing and listen to your breathing. Whenever you start feeling calm and relaxed, start your visualization.
Imagine yourself walking along a beautiful creek in nature and imagine the sound of the water. You are barefoot and you feel the grass under your feet, soft and warm.
You see a house in the distance. Imagine what it is made out of, what the door and windows look like. Maybe it has flowers and trees around it. You get closer to a big window. You look inside. You see a big art studio and someone sitting on a comfortable chair.
That person is yourself but older. Now imagine yourself maybe ten or twenty years older than you are now. You are surrounded by your drawings, paintings, sculptures or whatever your artwork may be. Feed your visualization with anything that is interesting or exciting to you, because in our imagination there is no lack of resources and endless possibilities. Just try to feel how your future self feels — satisfied, eager, happy.
You can incorporate these exercises as often into your daily routine as you like. The idea is to strengthen your vision by feeling yourself into it.
As soon as your core desire is more clear, ask yourself: how will I contribute to the world through and with my art? How can my work bring beauty, truth, and balance?
Writing is always more effective than just thinking about it. Get a journal or a calendar and start clarifying:
- Your short term and long-term goals
- What piece or pieces, or series of work do you have planned?
- Break down your goals into smaller actionable steps and schedule when you will reasonably do them into an actual calendar.
- Schedule studio time. Can you carve out 10 hours a week, 20? Put it in the calendar like you would a dentist appointment or a cousin’s wedding and show up.
- Schedule in time and places to see art, museum visits, gallery openings, etc to engage in the wider world of art.
- Any inner dialog that feeds your artwork with inspiration
This year is about becoming serious about the plan for your life, what you devote your time, energy, and resources to, what you desire! It is also about commitment, resourcefulness, applying yourself to your heartfelt devotions, choosing to be brave, and staying determined to build solid foundations that support the grandest version of yourself.