Yearly Focus

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Every year I set myself an improvement ‘focus’- the things I’ve struggled with during the last year or so, or simply the things I want to increase my skill at, and this 12 part series is going to follow along the techniques I use while avoiding the things that set me back- and maybe it can help others along the way. 

For me, I’ve managed to narrow down three major points that usually get in the way of me continuing to learn and generally putting the breaks on the things I want to achieve. Going hard for the first few days and then stopping all together- usually with burnout and disappointment of not seeing improvement in the first week. Perfectionism vs Quantity and Quality- by nature most artists want to have the ‘perfect’ painting, but with only a limited amount of time working around adulting and life, it’s hard to not get sucked into ‘perfecting’ the painting and by extension losing out on improvement time. Finally, sometimes the hardest, Figuring out where to start.

The first one took me a while to get a handle on, and I’ve made a blog post about why I don’t make new years resolutions a while back. I have always found that if I have a strict deadline, and a very hard expectation of myself, then each stage of the way, I’m going to sabotage myself- with stress (which results in burnout), with not being generous about the fact that I’m a working adult- and sometimes life just happens– and then when I check my progress, seeing almost nothing (because my goal is too specific). My solution for this for the last several years has been having a Loose Goal and using the full YEAR

One of the hardest things to do is finding time to practice- especially when most preach daily practice. Daily practice is fantastic, but I was copying the same mistakes over and over again, not really improving, and, by extension wasting time. I have found what my ‘daily’ practice looks like: instead of one hour a day, I have 5 hours a week and I can do the hours whenever I like. In one week I can do 1 hour per day. The next week I can do 15 minute blocks over the corse of 5 days, take a day off and then hyperfocus on the last day. I have days off to let my brain rest and take the time to regain interest. The other part of this- if I’m only doing 5 hours per week (which is my bare minimum- usually I end up with more, but I have a year…no need to do my years worth of hours in one shot) is making sure that one hour is a quality one hour using conscious learning. Even with throw away sketches, I try to learn something from it, even if it’s spending the last 5 minutes of that hour going back over it and going ‘what do I LIKE from this that I can do again?’. 

The last problem is figuring out where to start, and for me, that involves failing and working backwards.

In 2018 my focus was lineart, 2019 was backgrounds. So what does 2020 look like for me?

I decided Anatomy in perspective was one thing that I desperately need to improve, and step one is to fail and later on, I’ll come back and critique myself to start working backwards: 

I’ve been getting interested in aerial hoop and the body dynamics of the stills, which is where my references came from.
Gestures are a good way to not only warm up, but to practice your fluidity. I decided to make my time limit to 15 minutes per image.

What are those little habits that keep getting in the way? What are you planning on focusing on improving this year? Do you write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer? Do you have a specific book for your Focus? Happy 2020 everyone, and see you February!

Next Posts: Breaking down the Goal and Making Inspiration boards (February)

(Coming soon topics: Self Critiquing (NOT Self-Flaming) and Lesson Breakdowns; Listening to Burnout and the Importance of Rest; Mid-year Checkins)

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