For many of us, January is a “blank slate” month. It’s a great time to reflect on what you would like to achieve and plan for success! In today’s post, I’m going to talk about five creative goals and how you can attain them this year. Of course, we’re all different: please feel free to tweak and tailor these goals to suit your personality and timeline!
1. Use Your Supplies
When we purchase or receive nice creative supplies, especially if they were pricey, there’s an instinct to keep them pristine and new. For a lot of people, that instinct translates to hesitation … after all, the less we use our supplies, the longer they’ll last.
I invite you to share one of my creative goals for this year and let go of that mindset! Creative supplies exist to be well-loved and well-used. Instead of trying to keep your supplies looking like new, rejoice when they show signs of use. Don’t be afraid to mix your watercolor paints, get ink on your calligraphy pens, or stain your brush bristles!
Supplies will invariably show signs of wear with regular use, that doesn’t mean they won’t last a long time with proper care! For solid watercolor paints, make sure you leave the lid off after you have finished painting so that all the water can evaporate out. Once the paint is completely dry, you can shut the lid again. Brushes and calligraphy nibs need a nice rinse in water after you finish using them, then wipe dry with a cloth. Of course, make sure you keep lids on your pens and inks!
2. Try a New Medium
My fitness class instructor always says that muscles can’t grow unless you challenge them. I think that statement applies to creativity as well! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t specialize. For example, if you love calligraphy, you should keep writing … but try using a new ink! White ink is always a great medium to start out with, then you can move on to gold, and, next, perhaps an earth-toned iron gall ink. With each different type of ink, you’ll find that you have to use slightly different techniques.
There are so many different mediums out there to try, and many require only a small investment. For example, you can try a Cotman set of watercolors if you’re interested in painting. A single brush pen will suffice if you would like to try brush pen calligraphy. Those who would like to try illustration only need a pencil — and maybe a pen — to start!
Once you have a new medium to try out, comb the internet for tutorials! The best practice is fun practice, and if you make projects like the retro thank you card above (watercolor, simple illustration), you’ll find that you can build up your skills while producing work that makes you happy.
3. Document Your Progress in Photos
The last person to notice an improvement in your work will be … well, you. When you are so close to something, it’s difficult to notice a change! Seeing improvement propels us forward and motivates us to keep experimenting, so it’s important to keep an eye on how you’re doing. Snapping photos for later comparison is one of the best ways to do that! For example, here are some photos I took of my work in 2012:
A photo of Kaitlin Style calligraphy that I wrote in 2014:
And some Janet Style calligraphy from this month (January 2017):
There has been a big change in my own work, and that keeps me motivated and excited about what’s next! Note that you don’t have to be on social media to fulfill this creative goal. All you need to do is take a photo with whatever photographic device you prefer! I would suggest moving this photo to a folder on your computer, and use the date the piece was created as the file name. Fill up the folder with plenty of photos to keep track of how your’e doing. Whenever you’re feeling discouraged, open the folder and take a look at how far you’ve come!
4. Make Something — or Many Things — for Someone Else
When you are making something for someone else, you tend to create with more clarity and attention. That’s because you’re continuously seeing the project through another person’s lens! Your instinct will always be to look at your progress and think, “Will so-and-so like this? What can I do to make them like it even more?”
In addition to encouraging you to create mindfully, making things for others is genuinely fun. Throughout the project’s creation, you’ll have a feeling of happy anticipation! People love receiving handmade projects, so you can rest assured that the reaction of your recipient will be a good one.
There are many project tutorials on the TPK blog that are perfect for a number of occasions. The Father’s Day card pictured above is one of my favorites, and you can browse through additional TPK tutorials by clicking here!
5. Start a Sketchbook or Coloring Book
In addition to creating things for other people, try creating for yourself. A personal sketchbook or coloring book gives you something to work towards: filling up the entire book! It also allows you a lot of creative freedom: there’s no pressure for a personal project to be perfect.
If you’re open to trying a lot of new lettering or illustration techniques, try starting a sketchbook journal. A sketchbook journal can be whatever you want it to be: for ideas, you can search Pinterest or Google for “sketchbook journal page”. You can experiment with several mediums and techniques! Try to write the date and location on your work: it will be interesting to look back in the future!
If sketchbook journaling doesn’t appeal to you, try filling out an adult coloring book! Secret Garden by Johanna Basford is a wonderful book to start out with, or you can download coloring pages for free online. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how relaxing and artistic adult coloring can be!
The five creative goals listed in this post were formulated to help you take on artistic endeavors, give yourself permission to experiment, and carry on creating! I know that they won’t apply to everyone, but I hope that these goal suggestions have at least helped you to consider personal aspirations for this year. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment! As always, thanks very much for reading, have a wonderful day, and a fantastic 2017!