Greetings, my friends, and welcome to a new year and a new decade.  A new year always brings thoughts of change, but a new decade!  That’s almost overwhelming.  

To begin this new year/new decade blog, I’d like to share some ideas about art, and I’d also like to present you with some questions, which I hope you will answer because I need all the help I can get.

Let me start with this photo:

 My granddaughter Megan was fortunate to have been able to study in Paris for the fall semester of her junior year, and the Aquarelles paints were a Christmas gift from her.  They were purchased in Provence, where she and her family visited before returning home at the end of the year.  The paints are in individual tins, and I painted the samples to send her so she could see what these lovely colors look like on paper.  Here’s what the enclosure with the paints says about them: “These watercolours are handmade by Cooperative des Couleurs in the workshops of former ochre factory of Roussillon, in Provence.  Mineral and plant pigments are selected for their natural and mainly local origins.  They draw from the Luberon Nature Park landscapes….”  So–one of my decisions (I’m not crazy about the word resolutions) is to paint with these lovely paints and see what I can do with them.  Something earthy, I think. 🙂

Here’s my question for all of you:  What kind of “decisions” do you as an artist make at the beginning of a new year/new decade?  Do you decide to paint at a certain time each day?  Several days a week?  Every day?  Do you have a schedule to which you adhere? 

How do you decide what to paint?  I sometimes have so many ideas floating around in my brain that I have a difficult time deciding what to paint.  And then when I do decide, I paint whatever I’m going to do in my brain before it ever makes its way to paper, and then sometimes when it makes its way to paper, it’s not quite as lovely as it looked inside my brain.  I’m guessing I’m not the only one for whom this experience is true.

I am a writer and a teacher of literature and writing, so painting is newer to me than either writing or teaching.  I received a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant in 1998 (or thereabouts), and the grant was to study connections between painting and writing (and there are many, by the way).  The Lilly grant money allowed me to take my first ever art lessons, and I’ve continued to be a student of painting ever since.  One of my first teachers advised her students to keep the first thing they ever painted, and to compare it to current work.  I took that advice, and, even when I’m disappointed in my progress, I can get out that first painting and see that, yes, I have learned a lot and am continuing to learn.

So, if you don’t mind, would you please share your New Year’s art decisions with this novice painter with degrees in literature but not in art?  So many of you are so wonderfully accomplished (and I even have some of your paintings hanging in my home), that I would love to hear what your new year art decisions are.

I’m thinking this year will be a great art year.

But that’s just my opinion.  Happy New Year.  Paint beautiful things.