This is probably the first year that I didn’t go through a reflection of the previous year while making plans for the coming year. In some ways right now, it feels like it doesn’t really matter anyway. No matter how much I plan things out, life inevitably has a way of undoing the strands. Then She weaves it back in the order she wants it, regardless of what I had in mind.
Fighting that process is stressful. So this year my plan was… to not have much of a plan. I have some ideas of things I want to do, but except for a very few things, no outline for how and when I want to do them. I have a ‘loosely defined path’. I want to saunter, meander, and wander.
Loosely Defined Path
What does that mean? While I know what direction I want to head, or at least I think I do, I’m not going to try and follow a step-by-step approach to get there. I’m not even really concerned about where I’ll end up.
There are a couple of exceptions. First, I do have a specific painting to do during the month of January. And there’s another painting I’ll need to do during the month of February, along with an article that painting will illustrate. I have other quick paintings to do for the month of April, June, September, and October, too. But aside from that, all I really care about is that I do some paintings and make some paints and pigments.
I want to enter more shows this year, which means I do need fresh artwork, though I can use any from last year’s efforts, too. There’s a new tool soon to go online in my arsenal – a rock crusher. And that means it’ll be easier to process my rocks into pigments. And that’ll mean it’ll be less time-consuming to make more paints. So I’ll want to add pigments and paints to restock my online shop this year.
What I don’t have, except for those things mentioned in January and February, is a time-line of when I expect to get the other things done.
This is an experiment to see how the year goes without a more-defined plan. My loosely defined path is meant to meander a bit more than it might have otherwise. Maybe the end of 2021 won’t be as hectic as the end of 2020 proved to be. If that’s the case, I’ll do a look back to see what, if anything, I managed to accomplish with my less-structured time.
And maybe I’ll keep to this sort of way going forward. Or maybe I’ll revert to writing out more detailed guidelines. It’s an experiment, and I’ll decide the way forward at the end of it.
Less Marketing, More Doing
I don’t anticipate that having less of a guide will result in doing any less. But I do intend to do less marketing. I’ll continue to make things to add to my shop, and when I’m working on a painting or making paint, I’ll still post progress pics of that work to my Instagram. But I’d like my Wild Ozark Musings newsletter to be more ‘musings’, more just sharing what we’re doing out here, and what I love about being out here – art related, or not – and less marketing of my products. I’ve found that my shop is getting found more often by people searching at Bing or Google, and that’s usually a result of making blog posts and keeping up with my website. So that’s where the bulk of my effort in marketing will go.
What’s the Point?
My aim is to showcase the beautiful colors of our Ozark pigments by sharing my process – both in making art and making paint. Literally everything I do is influenced by our life here in the midst of nature. And so it’s the things about it that I love and the art which is my expression of it, that I’d like to share more of. Whether or not my art ever becomes ‘successful’ or not really isn’t the point anymore, but I hope it does. It would be nice to have collectors, but that isn’t what makes the process and the journey my passion.
It’s to experience the beauty of it all – the nature, the colors, and the magic that happens when I make a painting. That’s my loosely defined path for 2021.
What are your plans for the new year?
Aside from my art life, I am also looking forward to growing a garden and having the grandkids over to help with that. To trying out some new recipes to use the things I hope I grow. I’m looking forward to helping Rob build our solar array, and be an extra set of hands to help with whatever else is on his (much more structured) list (than mine). With any luck, we could be off-grid by the end of the year. And most of all, I plan to enjoy the time spent doing all of it, whether it went according to plan – or not.
In the summer of 2018 I began making watercolor paints from the rocks, clay, and other resources of our land here in the Ozarks. My artwork is made exclusively with these paints. I call them Wild Ozark Paleo Paints, because they’re made in a way very close to the same way paints were made when man first put a hand-print on the wall of a cave. My specialty is painting nature, specifically the nature that surrounds me here in the remote hills of northwest Arkansas.
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