Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Refreshing Creative Practice, Week 4


Planning. Focus. Commitment. Action. All excellent words for the working artist, but not everyone knows HOW.

For the fourth session of Leslie Avon Miller’s Refreshing Your Creative Practice telecourse, she presented a goal setting rubric to help artists commit to action. The acronym for it is SMART.







Here are the components for a plan:

Build on strengths

Cultivate excitement

Starve problems

Feed solutions

This week’s assignment? Write a series of action steps and time lines to accomplish a specific, measurable goal. Each person in the group interpreted and responded to the idea of planning in a slightly different way, one of the best things about sharing a process like this in a group.

Since I  have a very specific exhibition scheduled at the Adirondack Center for the Arts in June and July of this year, my plan revolves around my commitment to create new “Pages” constructions for the exhibit.

Pages 3 full

To refresh your memory about this series, here is Pages 3.

Just choosing the name “Entwining Alphabets” for the exhibition has started a flow of ideas and imagery that are helping to clarify my work with letterforms.

So here is a condensed, edited version of  the short term goals in my S.M.A.R.T. plan:


 Create 10-12 new constructed silk Pages pieces for Adirondack Arts Center gallery exhibit titled "Entwining Alphabets" by June 1, 2010

1. Set up and follow monthly production goals: Complete two pieces by March 1; 2-3 pieces by April 1; 3-4 pieces by May 1; 3-4 pieces by June 1st. I can do this because I have worked out many of the issues for this series in the six pieces that I've already completed in this vein and know that it takes approximately 5-6 days to construct each piece.

2. Practice positive self-talk DAILY about my work and myself. Believe in my talent and artistic ability and use affirmation, law of attraction, positive thinking to keep myself balanced and centered as I work. Affirm that I am a gifted artist, that I continuously attract the right and perfect opportunities and meaningful associations with others as I grow and expand and mature in my work and vision. I am a conduit for powerful work.

3. Continue to sample each idea/variation before beginning a full length work and commit to staying with the idea as I start creating (I have this tendency to "what if" myself over the edges of high cliffs as I'm working -- at the moment they feel like brilliant inspirations, but often create new problems. I need to get these "brainstorm" ideas down for future experimentation but also complete the current vision before leaping into the next one.)

4. Get all these pieces professionally photographed in small groups as I go.

5. Select one work or detail for postcard. Order these by April 15; have them shipped to arts center by April 30.

6 Prepare mailing list and labels for up to 200 contacts for arts center and mail to them by April 30.

7.  Send out pr notices to local and regional publications about the exhibition along with a hi-res image by May 15.

8.  Review and revise artist statement and portfolio and prepare to ship these with my work.

9. Pack and ship all work to arts center by June 4, 2010 with hanging instructions.


Because this is a very disciplined and product oriented list, I need to add rewards to indulge my playful, inventive side over the next few months. Here's how I will do this:

1. Give myself one day a week to "play" in my studio with painting, calligraphic marks and experimentation that will fuel new ideas for this series and others.

2. Make sure I continue to do my jazzercise classes to keep my body energized and to satisfy my "inner dancer." Take walks and get outside whenever possible.

3. Write and share my progress each week and applaud myself for every step forward.

4. Set up a weekly "artist date" for stimulation and a break. Saturday morning I went to a demo by a print maker at a local college and enjoyed seeing her work and process, so different from mine but definitely stimulating.  This week I’m attending a Syracuse University fiber art alumni opening and exhibition.

5. Socialize! Seek out and enjoy quality time with fellow artists.

Making work for me is the most exciting and challenging activity of my life. Combining my art practice with healthy lifestyle choices and happy interactions with family and friends is a prospect that both excites me and fulfills me.

I envision this year as one in which I SOAR -- not alone and predatory like a circling hawk, but in a supportive, bonded community like geese!



  1. Jeanne, your post shows how thoroughly you have thought about your life as an artist. I know this post summarizes much of your lifetime to date. Your goals show depth, maturity and ability. I'm impressed, and supportive of you as you move forward. Congratulations on the solo show! One of these days, I'll see your work in person.

  2. This is so well thought out...your plan, your expectations....you will do well! I always think of myself finding my ducks in the pond, the ones that hear me, play and support me artistically...I think your geese will be a perfect metaphor...SOAR!

  3. Hi, thanks for your comments. Since we're on a migration path and near a lake where geese also stay year round, they frequently fly overhead. When I've read about them, I've admired the cooperative behaviors they've adopted for survival -- and wish we humans could learn from them.

    So I have this wonderful plan and I've done samples and guess what?? - just as always there are still unanticipated bumps in the road as I work on them. The process is the process IS the process, no matter how lovely our metaphors, how experienced we are in our mediums or how well thought out our plans!!

  4. But wouldn't it be kind of dull if that wasn't the case? (She says, as someone whose process includes pushing materials to their limits ).
    I have a show coming up in November, and have also sat down and created a 'calendar' to help me stay on track.It's a bit different to yours because I don't know what I'm going to make. There's work in progress, and I'm excited about it, but it might be just a step along the way rather than developing into a body of work worth showing. Can't tell yet.
    In any case, I am flying along behind you, honking encouragingly for all I'm worth!

  5. Nikki, glad to have you in the V-formation!!

  6. Honk, honk Jeanne! I'm following you for the moment, then we can switch places.