Happy New Year to everyone! Or maybe I should say “Gelukkig Nieuwjaar voor iedereen” Yes, I am learning Dutch now and having quite a fun time with it.


My “holiday hiatus” is now over, I’ll be getting back to my easel today, and I’m looking forward to 2020. I’ve already taken a little time to reflect on the old year and to think a bit about the upcoming one.

I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I’m finding it more encouraging to choose a word to live by in this new year, a word that sums up my dreams, my goals, and my objectives.

My word for 2020 is IMAGINATION. What a beautiful word this is! Imagination is a key to unlocking creativity. Imagination allows us to dream, to reach beyond the realities of who we are and move toward becoming more of who we want to be.

Bob RossI chose the word from a Christmas gift I received. One daughter gave me a little “Bob Ross desk calendar”.  She has always loved his landscape paintings. Years ago, we used to watch his PBS show together. So many times I said, “I sure wish I could paint,” but, of course, it seemed a silly thought back then.

Now, lo and behold, I am painting. Maybe not quite like Bob Ross, but I’m painting trees and skies, rivers, and mountains. But, I digress.

On January 1, I opened the calendar to find these words awaiting me:

Let your imagination be your guide.

There are absolutely no limits here.

It made me stop to think about the limits I’ve imposed upon myself in the past. I’ve limited myself to only trying things I think I can do. I’ve limited myself to working on a fairly small scale. I’ve limited myself essentially to landscape painting. Most of all, I’ve limited myself to a belief that while I am an artist, I’m not, and never will be, a very good one.

Well, phooey on all that now!

I’m feeling a newfound sense of freedom in my artwork. For me, it’s a lot about permission.

  • With my new rule of never wiping away the work I’ve done, I’ve given myself permission to make a lot of bad paintings. Oh, well. Mistakes happen, and I can learn from them.
  • I’m also now giving myself permission to try new things. I’m going to step away from landscapes and try still life painting. I’m going to do more portraits, as awful as they might be. It’s fun to try new things, and nobody has to see them unless I choose to share.
  • I’m giving myself permission to do art on a larger scale. Yes, I want to buy and try big new canvases. Who cares if all I do is make a huge mess of it?

One reason why I’m letting this new have fun and good art be damned attitude come out is because I realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve accomplished. Although I don’t consider myself a good artist, I’ve got a nice little collection of awards hanging on my wall. Those awards include a first place and a third place ribbon. What more can I want?

I have no illusions of ever capturing any “best of show” awards, so essentially I’ve so greatly exceeded my own expectations that I don’t have to concern myself with trying to be the best. Not that I ever really made that an objective, but when I first began taking part in art shows, I soon found myself wishing I could someday get a “judge merit” award. And after that happened, I dreamed of maybe someday placing in an art show. I was stunned when that dream came true.

I do still have dreams. I dream about someday having work accepted in a juried show. I dream about getting a “best of show” award. But those are dreams, not goals, not objectives I’m struggling to achieve.

Simply put, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible, and I’m happy with that. For a long time, I think I’ve felt a need to somehow prove myself to the art community, to prove to myself and to my family that the time and money I’ve invested in art has not been a foolish waste, to prove that my decision to learn to draw was not as crazy as it first seemed.

I think I’ve proved those points now, so now, this girl just wants to have fun. Of course I hope to see continued improvement in my art, but mostly I want to enjoy my drawing and painting this year. I want to explore new things without worrying about results. I just want to go to my easel, pick up my brushes, and see what I can do.

It’s going to be a good year, one fueled by imagination, so who knows where I’ll go?


      1. Het is extra moeilijk met the ‘spell checker’, precies is het juiste woord voor ‘exactly’. Graag gedaan (this is where I show I am foreign after 25 years in the UK, here they say ‘you’re welcome’ while I always say ‘my pleasure’)

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      2. Danke je wel! Ik ben nu over Nederlandse kunstenares aan het leren. (Thanks for giving me a chance to practice my Dutch LOL). I have a book ordered about Rembrandt. It’s “Schilderslief” about his relationship with a mistress. It’s a novel, and I’m sure I will learn a lot from it. 🙂 I’m going to study his art more, too.


      3. I am fascinated though, why Dutch? Not the most common or most useful language to be honest. Family reason? I’m Flemish btw, kind of dialect of Dutch, although I really struggle with it by now.

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      4. Yes, I recently learned that my great-great-grandmother was from the Netherlands, so I started exploring a bit of Dutch culture. I love languages, and I’d previously learned a little Dutch, but I’d forgotten most of what I’d learned. I’m gathering Dutch recipes now, reading about Dutch artists, and trying to find Dutch classical composers. Each year in May, a town in Iowa (about 250 miles away) has a tulip festival. The town is said to “turn into the Netherlands” for 3 days with people celebrating their Dutch heritage. I’m already making plans to go with my husband and my sister. Hopefully I’ll be able to speak a bit of “Nederlands”. 🙂

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