Art Diary 2018

I’m making New Year’s plans for 2018. I hesitate to say resolutions. I’m reserving that for two things I’ve decided on: taking a better lunch to Poetry Marathon sessions – usually I’ve done a bagel and banana, that’s got to change – and remembering my reusable shopping bags when I go to the grocery.

No, this is a plan I’m talking about, a plan to rebuild my art work habits. In the last year I’ve been distracted by all kinds of events and changes and I’ve let my art time slip. By “art time” I include not only the hours spent actually painting, making tiles, collage, whatever, but also that mental space where ideas rattle around until I can catch hold of them. To put it bluntly, I need to focus.

I have my paintings and clay work show schedule to prepare for and I am also having a solo painting exhibit in the summer. I’m working on a joint art project and I’ve got some ideas for those routine things I like to make – postcards and artist trading cards. I also want to go out and take photos more often and I want to do more pen and ink sketching. Plenty to do.

Since I work at home it’s so easy to get distracted by laundry or cooking and so on and so on. Doing art is not like Poetry Marathon, where I schedule a day of writing and leave the house to go to a location with no other choice than to write. No, I need to be with all my supplies and paints and so on, and home is where they are.

I decided I needed to do two things: make scheduled art times and make myself accountable for getting there and working. I know from the Poetry Marathon, and from my past years of artwork when I was on a more coherent schedule, that once I set my plan in motion, very quickly I will have a habit – art will assume a clear place in the scheme of things, rather than floating around waiting for an opportunity.

Remember, I said to myself, I LOVE to do art. It’s not a chore. It’s a pleasure. It’s so easy to let other things get in front of me and lose sight of that fact.

OK. Here is my plan.

Number one: Each week I will set in artwork times on my calendar (just as I have already done with Poetry Marathon – I write the day in each week’s listing). In this way I can be flexible given other things I have to do, and yet be clear in my own mind that, say, at 1 PM on Tuesday, I need to be standing in front of my table in my studio (rather than dazedly wondering if I should do the ironing, or maybe just dust the living room, or…).

Number two: the accountable part – I will take pictures of what I’m doing as the week goes on and then do a blog post as a wrap-up. I think I will choose Friday as my diary day. In this manner, I’ll have an expectation of needing to explain myself, so I’ll be sure to have something to explain – and, I think it will remind me, through evidence of the photos, that projects finished or not, I am taking steps and rebuilding my focus.

I am a bit leery of making this commitment, because over the past few years, with my hand and eye health issues and my husband’s injury and other family matters, I’ve seen “resolutions” get derailed. I’ve started off a new year several times with great visions and then – sppplt – something happened. I’m keeping this pronouncement low-expectation as a result – I want to focus on art again, and I want to make progress in making art.

Because it is so easy to lose sight of what you are doing, isn’t it? That’s my theme in 2018 – see things as they are, pay attention, take in the meaning of them. It’s not the results that matter so much as the effort.

OK, let’s get this idea started. I’ve been practicing. I took pictures of things I did in the last few days. My plan is not to show finished artworks – that’s for other posts down the road, and I’ve got a backlog, just to warn you – but just to chronicle what I’ve been up to, and maybe give some explanations here and there.

Thanks for your help! And thanks for reading.

Oh! I forgot to say: if you have any questions about the projects or techniques here, I will be happy to answer. Please ask!


On December 23, I prepared bisqued “artifact” tiles for the kiln. You see them as they are in the plain state, with the underglaze covering them, and in the washed-off state.

I also continued to work on a couple of large paintings.

And these small 10″ x 12″ people paintings. I have been working on a series.

On December 27, I was working on some tiles. I am concentrating on tiles handmade by me, which is why they are irregular in size.

On the 29th I worked on the current people portraits and set them in front of my TV table in the living room so that I can let them rest a bit and decide what, if anything, they need to have done to them to finish.

We had snow on the 30th. I took advantage of the enforced day at home to load the kiln and fire it.

On December 31, I opened the kiln. Compare the top level before and after firing.

I unloaded the kiln. I am happy with the pictorial tiles but I am dissatisfied with the white “artifact” tiles. I had thought of leaving all of them, white clay and terracotta, in this washed-off stage, which is different from the previous artifact tile experiment that incorporated a breaking glaze.

I decided to keep the terracotta ones but am repeating the colored underglaze/breaking glaze method I used before for the white clay. Consequently I did underglaze work and recorded the colors and numbers in a photo for later reference. I will put the glaze on them tomorrow and later they can be refired.

9 thoughts on “Art Diary 2018

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I like your plan of scheduling the time for art. At present, that’s kind of how the weekly art journal prompt works for me. It reminds me to eke out the time in the week to sit at my table and create. Otherwise weeks would pass by with time consumed by all and sundry and me steadily losing my mental balance. And I find, once I start on a journal prompt, I’ll try to find time for other art activities too. So I think having that sort of commitment is a way of ensuring that valuable and worthwhile art time happens too. Happy New Year!

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Happy New Year to all of you Picts! And thank you for your comment, I wondered if I should even do this , as it is mostly interesting to me, but – I need to see in one place the results of my efforts, especially this year, when I think things might be busier than the past few, or I hope to be, anyway. I do think having the smallest accountability pays off much bigger than you’d think, so I’m hoping I’ll get into the habit because I said I would!

  3. memadtwo

    I already think of you as so focused and prolific!
    and I love those people paintings. I’m looking forward to your wrap up posts…it’s always so interesting to see your process.
    My resolutions inevitably fail, so I stopped making them long ago, but I spent so much time being angry last year, that I made a resolution to try to direct that energy in a more positive fashion. We’ll see…(K)

  4. Jeanette Clawson

    First, I am jealous of your studio. Second, huzzah! I think this is a great idea. I find this practice to be helpful. This past year I took some blogging breaks to focus more on the art making, but blogging about my art practice certainly helped me develop and stick to it! I’m looking forward to seeing what the year holds for both of us. I hope it is happy and healthy.

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. And yes, happy and healthy, first of all. As for the studio, I am lucky, I think. It is the bottom level of our split level house. Sort of extra room that really made things work for me.

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