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Pastellus: Goal Setting for Artists

The buzz of summer has quieted and the craziness of the holidays hasn’t begun yet, allowing a brief opportunity to reflect and look forward. October is the perfect month to take a look at artistic goals in order to be ready for the new year and the CPPS January Daily Painting Challenge! We all have life goals, and mixed somewhere in with those life goals are artistic goals. Unfortunately, we don’t often stop and look at artistic goals in relationship to, or independent of life goals, but we should. Whether you want to sell as many paintings as Picasso or just paint because you love to paint, you have artistic aspirations. Setting goals for your artistic endeavors can be tricky, and these goals can be hard to measure. This can lead to not setting them at all, or to creating unrealistic goals that can weight you down. To begin it may help to answer these three questions:

  1. Who do I want to be as an artist?

  2. What kind of work do I want to create?

  3. What do I want to achieve with my art?

These ‘big picture’ questions will help you connect your artistic goals to your life goals and define your objective. Once you have an objective you can set goals to help you reach it. An effective tool for goal setting is the SMART goal template. SMART goals are designed to set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely goals to be reviewed and adjusted as needed.

  • Specific: Instead of just saying “I want to be a better painter”, think about what you mean when you say that. Do you want learn a new technique, improve your rendering skills, or paint more often? All of these are specific goals.

  • Measurable: This is where artistic goals get tricky. It is difficult to measure learning a new technique or improving drawing skills on a spreadsheet, but you can measure how many classes you have taken focused on your new technique or how often you draw or paint.

  • Attainable: Having your goals be within reach is extremely important in order for you to continue to work toward your goals. This is the how part of your goal; where and when to practice new technique, carrying a sketchbook, or painting 3 times a week.

  • Relevant: In order for goals to be relevant they need to begin at the place you are in your creative journey. In short, does this goal relate to where you are and what you can do today?

  • Timely: Goals need to have a time limit. As an artist you know there is no finish line, but you can put time limits on your goals. As for learning a new technique, you can assign 3 months and at the end of 3 months look at what has been accomplished. Are you where you hoped to be? You can draw the same object you started with and compare the two, or count your paintings to see if you did 3 a week.

There you go, one goal set. Goals are like promises; keep your promise to yourself. Look at your goals once a week and see if you are on track. Be honest with yourself. It is recommended to have 3-5 SMART goals. More than that is overwhelming, and less isn’t pushing you forward enough. If you need to, stagger your timeline so your goals are manageable. Be flexible with your goals, they will and should change. Small adjustments can be made or goals can be replaced with new more relevant ones. Sources: Be a Better Artist - How to set and keep creative goals. How to take charge of your creative goals. skinny Thank you for reading and I would love to hear from you. Was this column useful? Do you have any suggestions for future columns? Please write me at .

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