Last year I was enjoying my last week as a full time art teacher.
Today I am a full time creative person.
As a teacher, I spent that last week of my work life posting my final evaluation of student progress. That week my fellow teachers were signing off on their yearly on their multi page and overly complicated evaluation document. Although I do not miss that process one little bit, I value making a habit of periodically set time aside for reflection.
As a teacher I was well trained in evaluation. Progress monitoring should be a simple process with three basic components.
- Goals: What it is you want to accomplish?
- Skills and Knowledge: What you will need to make that happen?
- Evaluation Tool: How you will measure success?
Last year as I walked out the doors of my school I did not fully understand how complex this transition from working person to retired person would be. During this year I stopped writing exclusively about art (check out posts from June and July) to chronicling my transition into retirement. I looked back through my year of writing on this blog to assess my progress.
Summary of the first year:
Finding a Goal!
After living through the sale of my home, I tried to be a lazy person declaring my word of the year as NAP! I went on a cooking binge and ended up gaining weight that I am now working on getting off. Travel is something I thought I would do a lot of, but as it turns out I am not willing to sacrifice the time and effort it takes to make travel a priority.
I have spent valuable time nesting and figuring out how to make this physical space feel like home. It took several trips to the dumpster, adding storage and getting right sized furniture to finally feel that this smaller physical space is my dream home.
Figuring out what to do with my time has also been an interesting experience. There was a period when I went to the gym everyday and took classes. I have played a little golf. Books were an obsession for a while and for a month or so I read for several hours a day. I love working in the kitchen. I took out cookbooks from the library and made some pretty great meals from new recipes.
Getting connected with our community has been important. My husband and I have made new friends, went out dinner, watched movies and enjoyed entertaining in our home. We have found favorite places to shop and to get a haircut. I have a trusted person to cut the dog’s nails and selected a dentist. Now we feel right at home.
The most rewarding part of my first year has been working in my studio, writing this blog, expanding my understanding of social media, connecting with other creative people and having the time for continued education.
Following my own plan I need to identify the skills and knowledge that support my creative activity. Some of the skills I need to create are very specific; like using my DSLR camera or understanding how to process digital images in photoshop. I have found my local arts organization has some good classes and members who are willing to share their skills.
Reaching out beyond my community to find experts is easy in the internet age. I am about to take a photoshop skills class online with the Pixeladies. One of these two ladies is current President of SAQA. Her understanding of art quilting makes her an ideal teacher. I found this class through a recommendation on a fellow art quilters blog.
To fuel my creative growth I wanted to learn in a rich environment with a top notch artist. I have taken several 1 or 2 day classes; but I want a in depth learning experience. In the fall I am going to travel to Art Quilt Tahoe for a week long artists retreat.
My week in Tahoe will be spent under the instruction of Jane Dunnewold. Ms. Dunnewold has been a visionary in the world of art and is a leader of the art cloth movement. No doubt I will be challenged and will learn new techniques to enhance my current work.
The biggest way I seem to gain skills and knowledge is to remain open to every avenue of information. I use U-tube videos, podcasts, and websites to help me experiment with media and try new techniques. I have learned more about social media by diving in and exploring. For example I found that I could edit photo’s on my phone because one day I watched my son in law post to instagram and asked him to show me a few tips.
Having an open mind, being curious and taking chances with new things has provided me with a wealth of information and has given me an ever increasing skill set.
So how will I measure my progress?
Log time spent in my studio. Calculate the number of projects I complete. Chart my sales. Set a goal for the number of venues I have work in. Make a list of new skills. Set a goal for the number of classes I will complete. Keep a detailed diary of progress.....
I will let you know when I figure that out. Safe to say I will be focused on learning and creating in the year to come.
Until Next time
MargaretUpdate on weight: lost almost 6 pounds. Next steps are to keep logging calories, try to walk 10,000 steps everyday and cut out alcohol until I lose another 4 pounds.