2016 – Year in Review

Is that right? 2016 is over? Or just about…

I am typing this out the evening of New Year’s Eve and I may have this finished by the time midnight strikes. (Nope, not a New Year’s Eve party-gal here. Staying indoors, nice and warm, keeping my cat company and setting up for 2017.)

Every year, like a lot of people, I tend to set goals for myself. Actually, I like to think of them more as aspirations as that word just gives me needed wiggle-room. I find if I set actual goals and do not accomplish them, I use that as an excuse to be unkind to myself, and I really don’t need that in my life. I am certainly trying more and more to accept life and myself as is – imperfections and all.

Kudos to you type-A goal-setters and achievers out there. You will certainly have me cheering you on—but don’t worry that I’ll be chomping at your heels trying to out-do you anytime soon.

That said, at the end of the year, I find it enjoyable to look back at my aspirations that I’ve written down and see how far I’ve come, if at all. Actually, I’ll do this periodically through the year as curiosity arises. But overall, my aspiration list sometimes turns into a “set it and forget it” type of exercise. I don’t constantly monitor the list and fret over it all year long.

I had several aspirations for 2016. Several of which are personal on the spiritual level, and I’ll choose to keep that information private. This is an art blog, after all – not a philosophical spirituality blog.

In addition to those personal, spiritual aspirations, I also had several aspirations regarding my creativity, however, and I was able to check a few of those aspirations off my list by the end of this year.

I get odd satisfaction out of discovering my accomplishments after not having looked at my aspirations for the majority of the year. It kind of gives myself a sense of having achieved them without actually trying. It really does feel like the universe just works with me. Ask and ye shall receive…

Here are a few creative aspirations I accomplished this year:

Continue perfecting my handwriting.
Now, I don’t know why I wrote the word “perfecting”. I’m done with ever expecting perfection out of anything I do. “Improving” would have been a better word. And I feel I’ve really managed to do that. Most especially along the lines of brush lettering. This is a huge deal to me, as not long ago, I continually found myself envying those people who did such beautiful brush script that I would see everywhere. I definitely have not “perfected” anything, but I have certainly improved. I believe this aspiration will make it onto my 2017 list, as well.

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Practice watercolor skills.
If you’ve been following my blog, or especially my Instagram account, I’m sure you’re well aware that I tend to do quite a lot of art in watercolor. So yes – I have definitely stuck to my aspiration to practice watercolor skills. This will be another aspiration that makes my 2017 list. It will probably remain on my aspiration lists for the rest of my life. This is such a fun aspiration, too. I just love working with watercolors.

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Finish a full art journal by the end of the year.
Now, this one I’m gong to give myself a little leeway on. When I first wrote this aspiration, I was envisioning a full mixed-media art journal. As my art journey has progressed, I’ve found that I’ve stepped away from doing a lot of mixed media art journaling in favor of doing more specific art layouts. Most of which were in single-media. When I started doing daily art challenges on Instagram, I found myself favoring single-media layouts, as they were simpler to work with all around. Far less time-consuming. Mixed media requires pulling out a lot of different materials, and when I’m trying to whip out something in just an hour or two in my spare time between my full time job and other commitments, sticking with a single media was far more practical.
So, while I did not finish a full mixed media art journal this year, I did, in fact, finish three sketchbooks this year. I’d say I met that aspiration and then some.

Try video-recording my art layouts.
I did this with one art layout thus far. It was for a piece I did in my Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook that was called “My favorite color is October.” I found by doing this, that I still have a long ways to go where recording and sharing my work goes. This first trial run only made a 45-second run on my YouTube channel. That was because I could really only get 45 seconds of useful footage out of the entire session. The rest of the time, I was either creating out of frame, or my head was smack in the middle of it. I really don’t know how other artists do these recordings without their heads getting in the way. Maybe they just have better eyesight than me, but I really need to put my head over the top of my work, for the most part, to be very clear about what I’m doing. Will I try to do more? I really don’t know. I don’t think this will make my aspiration list for 2017. I just don’t think it’s that important. At least not at this point in my art journey.

Get an art journal flip up on my blog.
Done. Not once, not twice, but four times I shared my art journals and sketchbooks as a video flip through on my blog and YouTube channel. Not much more to say about that aspiration, as it’s pretty straightforward. Do know it’s my intention to continue filming and sharing flipthroughs of completed art journals or sketchbooks when they’re ready. You can go here to see my blog posts about three of them (for some reason my tag isn’t functioning for my Moleskine flip.)

What did I not complete?

  1. I wanted to really spend a good chunk of time practicing human face and figure drawing. It is still an aspiration of mine to be able to draw people without having to reference photographs. I can draw people that way just fine, but that brings up the tricky line of making sure I’m not violating a skilled photographer’s copyright on a beautiful photograph of a model. Yes, I’d love to draw people straight from my imagination. I didn’t get around to working on that in 2016. Clearly 2016 was not the year to do that. This will make my 2017 aspirations list, however. Maybe when 2018 rolls around I’ll surprise myself with this. Or maybe it’ll end up back on the list with no progress.
  2. I wanted to have my art published again in another publication like Art Journaling. I think I could have made this happen, but this is really an issue of my not taking the time to submit my art for consideration at all this year. I think this will go back up on my aspirations list, however. It’s good to put myself out there.

So I met five out of seven of my creative aspirations. All without looking at my list constantly and fretting about it. They just happened organically. And for that, I am grateful.

What other art experiences did I have this year that I enjoyed?

Well, I gave bullet-journaling a good six-month try. I ended up dropping it around mid-August. I am going to try to take it up again, but with a few adjustments. I’m not going to keep trackers on it (like a checklist of how many times during the month I vacuumed the floor, or whatever other nonsense I put on my tracker.) Again, the trackers were just an opportunity for my perfectionist to see problems and berate myself for them instead of use those “gaps” as opportunities to do better.

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Trackers are not for me.

I also disliked how time-consuming these were to set up and work on. I think I may still find this to be an obstacle. Especially when setting up a brand new month.

Why have I decided to give bullet-journaling another chance, then?

Ultimately it was because I really enjoyed flipping back through the pages, especially my monthly memory pages, and being reminded of special little events that I would have otherwise forgotten. A favorite of mine that I came across was a little note and doodle in reference to an experience I had in the spring rescuing a baby bunny from one of my parent’s deep window-wells. I had almost forgotten all about it until I came across that memory in my bullet-journal.

What I think I’ll find challenging about bullet-journaling is my desire to doodle and then share those doodles on social media. While this particular blog entry may seem like a huge tell-all, I really am a pretty private person where my daily life is concerned. The world does not need to be privy to my doctor appointments, waking and sleep times, family events, when the oil in my car needs to be changed, etc. I know there are a lot of people out there who seem completely comfortable with sharing all of that information on social media, but not me.

What is difficult, however, is that I do like to share my art with everyone. There’s something I just find fun and cool about journal pages that share hand-written notes with pretty doodles, scribblings, colorings, etc. I feel like a jealous miser when I flip through my old bullet-journal pages, admiring how pretty they are, but not sharing them with the world. I guess that’s just something I will need to learn to be comfortable with. The world doesn’t have to see every little doodle and scribble of mine.

Another experience I really found rewarding in 2016 was participating in daily Instagram challenges. This activity lead me to create something new for around 200 days straight. It still boggles my mind that I managed to do that.

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Processed with MaxCurve

I started giving the daily challenges a break around August, as well (something apparently broke in August, haha!) But that doesn’t mean I stopped creating entirely. Again, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been continuing to create on a regular basis. Just not every single day. And that’s perfectly okay. But again, that was a wonderful experience to have.

I finished a full-size painting. This girl has graduated to actual canvases now. Well, I don’t exclusively work on canvases. But I’ve done a couple now, and doing one that was 40″x30″ was quite the experience for me. It was definitely an exercise in patience. Coming from creating something daily within an hour or two every day, being accepting of a piece taking a few weeks to complete was a big deal. I was extremely proud to have completed the painting, however. It now hangs in my bedroom above my bed. I have a lot of other big white walls in the house to cover, so there may be more large-scale paintings in the future for me.


Finally, another fun experience was selling a few coptic stitch commissions. It’s still so fun to imagine those sketchbooks getting filled with other artist’s creations and ideas. I hope for future commissions on those, for sure.

Final product ready for beautiful art to be created inside!
Final product ready for beautiful art to be created inside!
Sketchbook with Manga-themed colored pencils and pens.
Sketchbook with Manga-themed colored pencils and pens.

So that’s 2016 wrapped up all nice and neat. It was a wonderful, creative year.

What’s ahead for 2017?

Well, you’ll just have to make sure you follow my blog and my other social media accounts to find out. I don’t have a crystal clear picture of all my latest aspirations yet. Some I shared with you—I may end up with even more. You’ll find out with me when it’s time!

Happy new year everyone! Thank you so much for reading. I hope the upcoming year is full of happiness and wonderful experiences for all of you.


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