New year journaling & museum sketchbook studies
Hi friends! I’m happy to be back after a restful holiday break during which I caught up on sleep and dog sat a delightfully energetic pup. January has grown to be my favorite month of winter—a peaceful, reflective time when I can listen to my internal desires and morph them into plans of action.
Today I want to share with you some journaling and planning exercises I did earlier this month to set the direction for the year. I’m always cognizant that my intentions and goals can change as time goes on, but having an inflection point where I regularly take stock and plan is so helpful for seeing how far I’ve come.
Word of the year
First: setting a word for the year. It’s easy to remember a single word to guide my actions and decisions, so I find this exercise really powerful. My word this year is express, which captures my desire to share more of myself and my art in various formats. I’m also getting married this year! My partner and I tend to be private, so I’m excited for our wedding to be a chance for us to express ourselves and our love for each other to our friends and family.
I also couldn’t resist adding a secondary motto of inner strength. There were several moments last year when I felt so broken and discouraged while making art. I don’t expect these feelings to fully go away, but I want to be able to weather those internal storms with compassion and keep forging ahead.
Next is the more/less list, popularized by Julia Rothman! I don’t find this exercise to be as impactful, but it sure is fun making it. Highly recommend to those who don’t like to the usual kinds of new year intention setting or goal planning exercises.
I started taking habits seriously around 2018 when I would painstakingly track daily habits in my bullet journal. A lot of productivity content focuses on daily habits, encouraging you to meditate, journal, or draw every day. It feels great to keep streaks going, but forcing habits daily is hard to maintain long term while still enjoying life. I’d also argue that sometimes it prevents you from doing more meaningful things!
Nowadays I have priority habits to do every weekday (yoga, working a few hours on personal projects, journaling) and habits I do every other day or so (drawing in my sketchbook, working out, reading, tidying). Weekends are left mostly open besides a few tasks like grocery shopping and planning to prepare for the coming week. Then there are biweekly, monthly, and quarterly actions to take that I keep track of via calendar reminders.
Last but not least is goal setting. This year I’m mainly focusing on personal projects— publishing at least two zines, making a series of three paintings, and filming videos to share more of myself and my process. I’m also designing and illustrating a bunch of things for the wedding, which I’m excited to share in a future newsletter!
When setting goals I have to remind myself over and over to keep things manageable, light, and most importantly make sure that no one goal cannibalizes the rest. For example I was tempted to set a goal of starting a Youtube channel, but I could easily imagine that effort overwhelming me as I learn not only how to make and edit videos, but also promote it on a new platform. I also held off on setting any goals around client work. I want to use this year to make lots of personal work and feel confident in delivering in my style before ramping up outreach.
Most of what I have listed I hope to accomplish in the first half of the year—I find it difficult to plan much further than that. I’ll likely be adding more as time goes on, but for now I’m focusing on the most crucial and exciting bits that tie into my overall intention to express.
Now it’s your turn—tell me what you’ve got planned for the year, and if you’ve done any of these exercises! And if you’d like to see more of a deep dive into my Notion or calendar set up, let me know and I’ll be happy to share in a future post ✌️
The day after Christmas I went to Philadelphia Museum of Art for the first time to see Matisse in the 1930s. The lines were long (Matisse’s popularity knows no bounds) but it was very worth the wait to see so many of his paintings and drawings! I was most fascinated by his process of photographing his work in progress at every stage so that he could test his reactions, gauge his progress, and rework to find the piece’s most essential expression.
Above are some sketches and studies I did on site and at home afterwards. The museum had a wonderful collection of impressionist art as well, and I left feeling so inspired to play with color and light. I enjoy alternating observational drawing with studies like these; it helps me get a better understanding of color and composition.
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