“‎At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.” – Goethe

It’s that time of year again – the New Year. The time for resolutions. One definition for the word ‘resolution’ refers to the sharpness and clarity of an image. I know this isn’t the definition most folks use to set their goals for the new year, but maybe it should be.  It is my belief, in order to accomplish any goal, one needs to set a clear intention. And the clearer the vision, the easier it is to bring it into ‘focus’ and accomplish. That might sound simple but I think it is very difficult to clearly envision our goals. But clarity has a magnetic quality to it. Once we get really clear, we start to attract all of the opportunities necessary to accomplish our goals. Our dreams become filled with our vision and we start to notice the things in our environment that will assist us. So it seems achieving clarity is an ongoing process; and evolves as we work toward our goals as we bring those experiences and people into our lives that help us.

This past year has taught me quite a bit about goals. It was last January that I decided to step away from clay. I received some art supplies for Christmas and wanted to try different mediums besides clay to express myself. I’ve experimented with water based mediums, acrylics, oils, pastels, pencils, inks, beeswax and book making. It’s been a very exciting year for me – but the problem with all those different mediums in my studio is I found myself spinning in circles trying to decide what to do and with what materials. I had no clear vision.  I just skimmed the surface and only learned a little bit about all the different materials. I think you have to spend a lot of time with something to really get to know it. Potters believe it takes seven years to become a potter. Painters think you need to paint at least 1000 paintings – so I have a lot of work and growing to do. I have met some wonderful generous people who have helped me tremendously this year and now I have narrowed my focus and materials and I’m excited about this upcoming year.

I don’t want to just learn how to use my (art) materials better – I want to be able to create ‘my vision,’ and in order to do that I need to remember my story. Years ago I took an ‘Artist Way’ class based on the book by Julia Cameron. The book is a great facilitator in finding your spiritual center by digging deep into what motivates and interests you – at the core level.  After the Artist Way class, I bought the next book in that series ‘Vein of Gold’ but never worked through it or finished reading it. Over the holidays, I started working in it. The exercises in the book require that you build a narrative time line of your life. This would be lots easier if I were still only twenty – but at sixty I’ve had so many experiences and forgotten quite a bit as well. But what’s remarkable is the process of writing these memories down is helping me remember. It might be simpler if my parents and older sister were still living – but the book encourages you to find your view of yourself – not your friends or families rendition of who you are.

I want to write more. I just finished reading  ‘PoemCrazy’ by Susan Wooldridge and I’m now reading ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott. The concept of the title of Lamott’s book is something I need to remember. Her younger brother had a huge writing project due for school and he was completely stressed after typically waiting until the night before to begin. The project was about birds and Lamott’s father who was also a writer told his son to just tackle the project ‘bird by bird.’

It’s easy to look at all we need to accomplish in a day or year and forget it’s all really about the steps we take in any journey, so the only ‘resolution’ I’m making this year is to set clear intentions, narrow my focus and GROW – ‘bird by bird.’

Happy New Year to each of you. Thank you for reading my blog and thank you especially for your comments. I love the dialogue and think it’s amazing that no matter where we are, we can share our experiences with each other. I’d like to do more of that this year.

About Judy Shreve

Blogging for me is like keeping a journal which I have done in various forms since I can remember. But what's great about this format is it offers an opportunity to explore all the things that interest me as an artist with others. Blogging seems to strengthen that sense of being part of both something personal and something universal. It takes the journaling idea and expands it through visitor's comments creating a valuable dialog that connects us to each other no matter where we live. I enjoy responding to each comment and warmly welcome your visits. email: judyshreve at mac dot com
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22 Responses to Intentions

  1. Happy New Year Judy! What a great reminder for me to dig out my copy of “Vein of Gold” and get to it!

  2. Judy…I’m so grateful that our on-line paths crossed. In so many ways we are on the same journey, rediscovering/redirecting artistic voice. Thank you for reminding me about the power of intention. And clarity.

    Something to consider as we head into the new year. xo

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Susan – very happy we have found each other’s blogs and work. And I agree we are on similar paths. You help me all the time – what you are writing on your blog makes me realize things I’m working through. Happy New Year my friend!
      PS – Hope you get your computer back soon!

  3. Annie says:

    Lovely post. I agree with you. I usually have to focus on my painting, or my clay or my writing, I can’t do one, one day and another the next, it makes me crazy, so I take 3-6 months to paint and then when I can stand it no longer I work with my porcelain for 3-6 months, back and forth I go. I also have career goals that I am way behind in making a reality,so my focus these days is what is next to make those dreams come true.
    Happy New Year!!! xoxo

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Annie – I like your approach of concentrating on one medium at a time. Good luck with your career goals – so many dreams! Hope your new year is full of prosperity, good health and happiness!

  4. spot on Judy!!…one of my aims for this year…focus

  5. Donna H. says: says:

    Judy do you have an idea yet of what you would like to begin to focus on? About this time last year, I was sure my aim was on encaustics, now I am not so sure footed.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Donna! I love your encaustic work — what do you want to work on?

      I was so excited about encaustic until I really delved into it. The class made me realize I don’t like painting with wax, although I do like using just the beeswax in my mixed media pieces. I’d rather use acrylics and pastels to make marks. This past year also made me realize I don’t like using the water mediums either (gouache and water color).

      This new year – at least right now (lol) I hope to focus on book making. After working with clay for so long, I was missing working in 3D – book making will allow me to work 2 dimensionally using mixed media techniques that I love as well as 3 dimensionally. I enjoy figuring out how to make something come together which just painting doesn’t give me. Book making will also encourage to think in words again — I do need to learn some more binding techniques, so I hope to find a class . . .

  6. Robyn says:

    I really needed this post Judy. Thank you. Beginning a new year is not easy for me so reading a post filled with enthusiasm certainly helps. BTW, I am in the middle of Poem Crazy which i received for Christmas and I read Bird by Bird a year or so ago. Looking forward to seeing the art you create in the new year.
    Wishing you and yours (Watson too) all the best for 2012 !

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Thank you Robyn – I agree it’s hard to organize your dreams starting off a new year. It can be overwhelming – or hopeful. I usually think of my new year falling on my birthday – but I also try to start fresh January 1.
      PoemCrazy is so well written. Since reading it, I find myself thinking in more descriptive terms – adding colorful words and emotions. I don’t know how I missed Lamott’s book – but I find her somewhat cynical after reading Wooldridge.
      Hope your new year is full of smiles and prosperity.
      Watson is doing very well & growing like a weed — he almost has us trained!

  7. I think you have to spend a lot of time with something to really get to know it.

    This sentence really captured me. I like the idea of doing a narrative timeline of a life, I love. Esp if we are setting goals. I saw A Lamott do a reading once, she is so amazingly funny and smart. I enjoyed her much more than the bird by bird book itself–in presence she taught me more about courage and being one’s self in a few hours of watching it in action, than i can explain. A gift i forget i got sometimes.

    Anyway, a wonderful post. Happy New Year and Vision questing.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      I really believe it takes a lot of time to get to know your materials and until you do – you really can’t manipulate them to create your true vision. So even though I had so much fun skimming through this past year I am now ready to try and focus . . . we’ll see.
      How wonderful to be able to see A Lamott – I’ll bet she is smart and funny. That reminds of a quote I love — ‘It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are’ by e e cummings.
      Hope your new year is filled with joy and courage and laughter!

  8. Lori Buff says:

    Bird by Bird is a wonderful book, so much fun for anyone to read, not just people who want to write. It has influenced my life in that I have learned to remember to take things “bird by bird” and that I have learned to make note of things that I find interesting or exciting so that I can use them later. Enjoy.

  9. charlene says:

    I always mulled over your posts for days. It takes me a while to sort out my words. I liked that you used the words intention and focus. And then clarity. I have wondered all year about these three words. Each year I choose a word instead of a resolution. It is easier to remember and it doesn’t involve giving up chocolate. Focus was my word for 2011. Somehow intent came into play and then came balance and when I just let it all go along came clarity. Now I don’t think clarity hangs around very long with me. And my focus got a little shaky at times. The long and short, it is wonderful that I have your blog as a good set of reading glasses. Here’s to the New Year and a great journeying……..

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Charlene those words intention, then focus and finally clarity seem to work together and I agree clarity can be fleeting and seems to change as we become more focussed. I’m hoping it’s learned behavior – getting clear that is, because I want/need to get better at it.
      For the last couple of years I have also chosen a word instead of making a resolution – you made me laugh out loud – never could I give up ‘chocolate!’
      Happy New Year to you – hope it’s filled with lots of inspiration, many visions and balanced clarity! — and also filled with simple joys and lots of laughter — and chocolate!

  10. Linda Starr says:

    I’ll have to check out the books you refer to; I especially like the thought of progressing bird by bird and need to keep that in mind for myself. It’s easy for me to flit from one species to another when I might well stick with one for a while. I seem to get impatient I can’t move fast enough it seems and perhaps I need to slow down. I thought of taking a mixed media acrylic class and an acting class this Spring but fear I may spread myself too thin. According to your potter’s timeline I guess I shouldn’t feel bad I’m not further ahead, it does take a long time to learn and become proficient and comfortable in art, much longer than other professions or life’s work I think. Happy New Year, looking forward to your art books.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Linda! It is hard for me to choose just one thing to do as well, but I know if I don’t, I won’t really learn and I so want to get better. I’m hoping I can combine the three things I love the most (right now lol) — acrylics, book arts and writing – into different projects that allow me to use all three. I like your tiles and shrines and there seems to be much to explore with those. I hope this new year finds you healthy, happy and prosperous – and may each day be filled with lots of creative moments!

  11. Judy, I have both those books, and PoemCrazy is one of my favorites. Just working in the arts and craft is heaven enough~

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Julie – I loved PoemCrazy and I’m now reading her latest book ‘Foolsgold’ – and I’m enjoying it too.
      I’ve not gotten to do as much as I’ve wanted in Vein of Gold over the holidays and I’m now taking 2 online classes – so I’m not sure I can work as much in it as I hoped – I agree with you though- being able to do my art is ‘heaven enough.’
      Happy New Year!

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