2020 Southern States Flower + Insects CalendarFor the past two years, I have set daily drawing challenges for myself. In 2016 it was 100 days of small square line drawings. In 2017 it was to draw every day in a Moleskine accordion fold sketchbook – one continuous drawing all year. In 2018 I did the 100 day challenge and created patterns every day, and then in October I did Inktober and drew the flowers that turned into the most popular product I’ve ever made – my 2019 Birth Month Flower Calendar.

In 2019 I decided I would do what I thought was a less intense pace and draw a flower a week all year and draw all the state flowers. I thought it would take less of my time doing a flower a week, but I complicated the process by drawing much more detailed and realistic flowers and adding in the state insect. So it ended up taking several weeks of drawing for each state and I ended the year only completing 27 states. I did get a beautiful product out of it – the Southern States Flowers + Insects Calendar, but it was very ambitious and took time away from other things I planned on working on. So this year, I’m going to continue the state flower and insect drawings, but not on any kind of timeline. I’m going to try to draw a little bit every day, but not give myself a deadline for completing them.

When I’m afraid of doing something, I retreat to what’s easy for me – drawing. I do it well, it’s calming and meditative, and I can feel productive, even when what I’m really doing is avoiding something that is either difficult or scary to me. So I drew a lot in 2019! What I really wanted to be doing was submitting my portfolio to companies and possibly agents for licensing jobs. I wanted to build and launch my artist website service. I wanted to record and post videos. I did a lot of thinking about all those things and some planning, but what I mostly did – aside from my usual client branding and web design work – was draw. I drew a lot.

State flowers and insects

But this year, although I’m still planning on drawing a lot, I’m going to set a new challenge for myself. I’m going to do something every day that scares me. The list (that I’m just beginning to put together) includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Share more personal behind the scenes thoughts (like this post!) and what I’m working on.
  • Post videos. I have done some time-lapse videos of me drawing, but I have never shown my face or spoken to the camera. People think I’m bold and fearless – and I definitely can be bold – and I’m not afraid to say what I want to say in writing and in person, but I have always hated myself on video and have been afraid to post videos of myself for fear of being embarrassed. Time to stop that!
  • Submit my work to people/companies/galleries/etc. Just making a gazillion drawings does no good if you don’t do anything with them. I’ve been making products with them to sell, but it is never going to make any profit if I don’t get it out there for more people to see.

I heard this quote that spoke to me and is my motto for 2020:

We think that we have to magically have confidence before we do something, but this is backwards. Confidence is a product of action, not the other way around.

If I had to wait to have the confidence, I’d never get out of bed to do anything.

I had to do the hard stuff and then the confidence came as a reward.

~ Whitney Way Thore

You can hear it in this TEDx Talk.

Here’s another partial list of things I want to do in 2020:

  • Get back into my studio and make art. I made a lot of pretty drawings in the past three years, but I did not make a lot of art. My drawings are beautiful and colorful and cheerful and look great on any number of products, but they are more design than art. They are the easy way out for me. They are pretty and decorative and popular and fun to draw and I’m proud of them. They are not fine art. I need to be in the studio where it’s messy and chaotic and hard and the end result is closer to what’s inside me – expresses something deeper, even if I cannot put it into words. The flowers are more surface-level things that I can hide behind and avoid doing the hard work in the studio of pulling out something deeper and more meaningful.
  • Finally acknowledge that I will never be the perfectly organized and methodical person I have always felt like I should be. I’ve been trying for years to organize my time the way I see other people do it – into time blocks so I always know what I should be working on and when in perfectly structured days. I’m great at planning my time that way, but not at following through. The only thing that has worked for me long term is my Monday admin days. It’s been 4 or 5 years since I decided that every Monday I would do my expenses, mileage and client website maintenance on Mondays. I’ve stuck to that one! So I’m going categorize all the things I need to do into 5 or 6 groups and assign each a day to work on them. I’ll keep it that loose – client work on these days, studio on this day, marketing on this day, etc. Hopefully once that becomes a habit I can stick to like admin Mondays, I’ll be able to add in a bit more structure.
  • I am, however, trying to give myself a bit more structure in the mornings. I’ve been saying for years that I want to write more, and have been doing very little to make that happen. So here I am writing in the morning with my first cup of coffee. I’m not checking email or going on social media until after I’ve written in the morning. Sometimes it will just be a list of things to do that day, sometimes a blog post or even just Instagram captions, and sometimes more like a journal entry – but I will write every morning before doing anything else that distracts me!
  • Launch Make Art Not Websites – my productized service offering websites to artists in a semi-custom way (click here if you want to hear more about this).
  • Make a body of encaustic work and have a gallery show.
  • Make a surface design portfolio and secure at least one licensing job or agent.
  • Make exercise a regular part of my life
  • Purge my books, closet and studio of things that I don’t need/use/wear/love and organize what’s left
  • Complete all the online courses I purchased and not buy any new ones
  • Plan another winter in Mexico for 2021 or 2022
  • Reduce my expenses – figure out what services I can cut or reduce, stop buying new things I don’t really need
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