Starting the new year by considering new ideas or putting together a good plan of work is a simple way to prepare for the success that you want. But put aside the plans for exhibitions and open studios and test out our seven New Year’s resolutions designed to kickstart your art for 2024
1. Tidy your studio
Consider this a task of clearing your mind as much as your space. Take your time looking through everything — inspiration might spark from the forgotten photographs or half-started sketches from 12 months ago.
Whether you have a tiny corner of a room or a purpose-built studio the aim is the same: create a clean space to allow your thoughts to develop.
2. Join the drawing craze
Call it sketching, drawing or mark making, nothing beats the challenge of a fresh sheet of blank paper. Whether you are someone who begins their work with sketches, or rarely touch a pencil, go back to basics. Test out charcoal, soft pencils and even add in some color if the mood takes you.
Set yourself some limitations. Get out a stop watch and try and capture something within that time frame. Test out some of our drawing exercises to get you going.
3. Come out of your comfort zone
This is a game of swapsies. If you are a portrait painter, go abstract and put the brush and the color where the mood takes you. If you are abstract, tie yourself down to a nice landscape. The aim here isn’t to take you in a totally different discipline (although you might never look back), but when you return to your preferred painting style, you will bring some of the elements of your alternative style with you.
It can work well for two-dimensional artists testing out 3D art. Borrow a potter’s wheel, get some modeling clay, playdough or even scrunched-up balls of paper.
4. Collage your life
What images do you have on your studio wall and how long have they been there? Clear your walls and find new things to inspire you. It might be postcards from the Van Gogh Museum or scraps of canvas from paintings that didn’t originally work. Embrace the art of decoupage. I like to add paint charts to my wall, color wheels and images of paintings I’ve sold as inspiration.
5. Cut up your canvases
We all have canvases stacked against a wall that we half-like and think we will rework them one day. Get a craft knife and start cutting. Take out the bits you like. It may be many fragments or a section large enough to frame as a work in its own right. It’s satisfying and frees up canvas frames to create new work without having to invest in new stretchers. Win-win!
6. Get back to your childhood
My favorite exercise is to buy kid’s art sets and have a go at them. This might be finger painting, puppet-making, printing sets, simple felt-making kits to create a plush animal or trying to fashion a metal rendering of a house. And something as simple as coloring can be a great way to renew your color choices. There are dozens of options for children’s craft kits.
You can buy kits from toy and stationery shops and involve the whole family!
7. Change your perspective
Most artists have the studio set up the same year in, year out, probably with a window looking out onto the same scene. Or designed to cast a particular light on your easel or work top.
Getting out of your comfort zone means changing your perspective. Move your furniture around and create different aspects, as well as change the shadow and light you are used to working in. You might want to change it back immediately, but at least give it a go for a couple of weeks. You might find inspiration from something as simple as having your easel facing the light instead of away.
Change your medium
We get into a comfortable place with the way we work, and this will usually mean using the same implements, mediums surfaces and even colors. Being an artist is hard enough, so it has to be worth it, and churning out the same work in the same way can be far from satisfying to the artistic spirit.
Try swapping oil paints for acrylics and marvel at the lighter colors and the way you can work differently because of its drying speed.
If you work on seascapes, try putting away the blues and greys and create something truly striking using reds and oranges. Or if you use a lot of greens in your landscapes try working in greyscales.
Working on large canvases can be hugely satisfying, but trying to bring that same style into a smaller work will test your discipline and decision-making. And you may find a whole new marketplace for smaller works.
You don’t have to follow all the resolutions at once, you can spread them throughout the year or print out the list and dip in when you feel inspiration waning.