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Pastellus: The Upside of Accountability

Definition of accountability: the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. Accountability in the professional arena can be difficult; it is part of a culture that comes from allowing employees to take ownership, and fostering trust among all levels and departments. In our personal lives we become overwhelmed with so many responsibilities that we find ourselves letting things slide. However, accountability in art can help us focus and improve our skills. Some CPPS members have accepted and completed recent daily painting challenges; a one month daily painting challenge and a 7-day completed painting a day daily challenge. Feedback from these challenges unanimously exalted the merit of accountability. “Accountability has a clear link to higher performance, and experts indicate that it also results in improved competency and commitment to work, increased morale and satisfaction.” Challenge participants communicated through email. Email boxes filled up throughout the day with pastel images and information on the paintings. Information that you would expect; such as paper type, underpainting details and self-critiques. There was also information you wouldn’t expect; “not feeling well today”, “this is all I could handle”,” gloomy weather makes thinking about painting harder - but once I got going it was a great day at the easel”,” tried a new paper - don’t like it”, “this underpainting was done with” get the idea. The emails were very informal and very supportive. The group noticed if someone didn’t post, and checked to make sure everything was ok. That gentle accountability really helped participants work through busy days, head colds and blank pastel paper. Being accountable to provide feedback and observation was as important as posting a pastel painting. Challenge participants also commented that they looked forward to their time at the easel and the emails. Due to the closed group nature of email, participants could post unsuccessful attempts with no fears. They were able to openly discuss what was working and what wasn’t. It is not often that there are parallels between the professional 9-5 grind and our easels, but accountability is one we can all embrace. Besides the accountability and improved pastel skills, participants also enjoyed being part of a working painting community and are eager for the next challenge and opportunity to work together. If you have any questions or would like more information about this article, please let me know. I would love to discuss the benefits of a group painting challenge!

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