This cityscape was the most ambitious painting I worked on during our fall vacation.  It also marks an end to a goal I set myself two years ago: to do a series of 12 city paintings, 3 each from four different cities.  The cities were Boston, New York, Chicago, and (ahem) Wardsboro, Vermont (population: 909).  The finished series is here, plus a few extra paintings that made their way in.

The original goal was to finish the series by May 2010, in time for the open studio that year.  Stuff came up.  I lost momentum and figured it would never get done.  And then at one point I put down my brushes and realized that I had accomplished my goal without really noticing.  I find that a lot of my goals are like that: overly ambitious, not finished in the time frame I initially set.  And then sometime later I find that I’ve met them in spite of myself.

Sometimes these goals are explicit, like the painting series.  And sometimes I don’t really know I’ve set them.  It’s only recently, for example, that I realized I had long ago set myself the goal of dressing better.  I think I can pinpoint too when this idea first entered my head.  It was in college, when I did a study-abroad quarter in Italy.  It happened that the “color of the year” that year was…gray.  I was smitten.  I’d never paid the least attention to fashion and suddenly I got that clothing could be an art form and a means of visual expression.  It’s only taken me 13 years to figure out what to do with that insight.

Setting goals for the new year is my favorite part of the holiday season.  I’m feeling good this winter because I have many projects I’m looking forward to, and no sense yet of how limited my free time actually is.  Here’s what’s on my to-so list for 2012:

  • First up is a new series of abstract paintings.  This was inspired in part by Elizabeth’s question about what talents we wish we had.  I wish I could write music.  I love listening to music and I played piano as a kid.  But I never had much patience for practicing and I don’t have the ear to write down melodies.  So I thought: maybe I can do a series of paintings inspired by the idea of a musical composition.  More on this soon.
  • I’d also like to keep painting cityscapes.  I find cities endlessly inspiring: to walk through, live in, and paint.  This year I’d like to try playing with different palettes.  Not that I’m going to stop painting rainy days.  But sunshine is its own challenge, and I think I’m up for it.
  • Also inspired by Elizabeth, I’d like to post some online painting lessons.  I picked up some acrylic paints recently and that seems like a good excuse to do some basic exercises.  Anything you’d like to see a post about?
  • In a similar vein I’d like to write more science posts.  Not so much the content of science as the process.  For me the practice of science and the practice of art are closely related.  I have no idea if anyone cares to hear about this but it’s something I’d like to think and write more about.
  • On the sewing front, my next goal is to sew a bunch of knit dresses.  It’s dark.  It’s cold.  It’s time for some cheerful prints that can be worn with wool tights and the cardigans I conveniently made this fall.  Also for some stretchy fabric that can accommodate my love of mochas and David’s willingness to make them for me.
  • For spring I’d like to sew a shirt-dress (or two).  This has been on my todo list for ages and I hope this will be the year.  I loved Carolyn’s military-style long shirt.  I’d also like to make a plaid drawstring-waist shirtdress.  Being ahead of the game I’ve already picked out fabric for both :)
  • For next fall, I’d like to sew something in leather.  Ideally a jacket.  More likely a bag.  Maybe this hobo bag which looks pretty straightforward.  We’ll see.
  • Also on my list for fall is a basic black blazer.  I’ve been meaning to make this Kwik-sew one for ages and (again) have the fabric and lining all picked out.  The truth is that blazers have always made me feel like a little girl playing dress up, and I really couldn’t think of an excuse to wear one.  Except maybe this year, because we’re hoping to
  • Apply for jobs.  Wait a minute, don’t we have jobs?  Well, yes and no.  We have post-docs, which are jobs in the sense that they pay us and withhold taxes, and are not jobs in the sense that they are by definition temporary and that we are still considered overgrown students.  At 33, I’m ready to stop being a student.  To be honest, this mythical job has been haunting me for a long time…10 years is a long time to be in training for a job you might not want when you get there.  This year in particular I fell into the trap of seeing everything I did in light of the upcoming job search:  Am I working hard enough?  Am I putting in enough hours?  How can I afford to spend time on things other than work in the current economic climate?  Will they still take me seriously as a scientist if they find out I spend my free time sewing my own clothes?  I know it sounds crazy to stress out about a job that I haven’t even applied for yet, but there it is.  This year the goal is to stress less and just apply.  What happens, happens.  Wish us luck.
What’s on your todo list this year?